The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Fire Service Intervention – Part 25

March 8, 2021 11:38 am

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 24 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF began to look at what happens when the Fire Service arrive at a healthcare building to put out a fire. In part 25, we will continue to discuss what happens when the Fire Service are summoned to a healthcare building, before beginning to look at the human factors relevant when considering evacuation.

Where firefighting lifts are available in a healthcare building, they should have independent power supplies (primary and backup) and separate controls for firefighters to operate the lift and doors. Firefighter lift controls are installed with the ability to override normal lift call points on each floor.

The firefighting lift should not be used as a method of general evacuation of occupants, but it may be used for the evacuation of disabled people. One of the reasons for this is that the firefighting lifts should be at ground level in a fire situation, for the firefighters to use on arrival at the premises.

Firefighting lifts are extremely useful where the healthcare building is high rise. Firefighters are responsible for transporting heavy equipment to the seat of the fire in order to setup their hoses and fight the fire. The firefighting lift can cut the amount of time taken to transport and set up the equipment, as well as ensuring the firefighters arrive near the floor of fire origin without becoming too physically tired to be effective.

Annual testing of the firefighting lift may be required by the fire authority.

The required safe egress time (RSET) is the amount of time it will take for occupants to safely evacuate a given area to a place of safety. The available safe egress time (ASET) is the time between fire detection and the conditions becoming untenable for building occupants. When considering these factors and comparing them, it is important to be clear which parts of the building are under consideration.

Evacuation time is made up of two elements – Pre-movement time and travel time. Pre-movement time must be fully taken into account and this is the time taken from fire detection to when occupants begin moving toward the exit. Pre-movement time depends on varying factors, such as the type of fire warning given, what the people are doing at the time and the level of familiarity with the healthcare building and its systems. Also, the person’s role and responsibilities will have an effect on the rapidity of their response.

In some circumstances, building occupants may not follow the directions given to evacuate at all. It has been shown that in buildings with crèches, for instance, parents are more likely to detour to their child than to evacuate and trust that the children will be safely evacuated.

In Part 26 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue looking at building occupants and evacuation. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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