The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Fire Strategies – Part 61

November 15, 2021 12:49 pm

LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals aims to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 60 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF looked at the Fire Strategy for complex buildings. In part 61, we consider the objectives of fire strategies.

Consideration of fire safety for healthcare buildings should revolve around four areas:

  • Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Systems
  • Components

HTM 05-03 provides a fire safety paradigm to assist in conceptual understanding.


The two main objectives of fire safety are life safety and financial protection (protection of operations, which, in a healthcare setting, is of very high importance).

There are other fire safety objectives which may or may not apply to a given circumstance. They are environmental protection, heritage protection and public image.


Strategies are used to achieve the objectives. They can be broken down into statements indicating the importance and/or role of certain elements with regards to meeting the objectives.

They are prevention, evacuation, containment and suppression.


Systems required to implement the strategies might include management policies, warning systems, compartmentation, sprinkler systems and smoke control systems.


Each system has components necessary for effective functioning. These should be detailed, as per the following examples:

Fire procedures and drills (as part of the management policies)

Self-closing fire doors to prevent the spread of fire and smoke (compartmentation)

Sufficiency of water supplies (sprinkler systems)

Implementation of fire strategies in healthcare buildings

When the practices given above are applied in healthcare buildings, they are likely to have the following characteristics:


The risk of death or injury by fire to patients and other building occupants is as low as reasonably possible.

The protection of high-value and essential medical equipment must be considered in order to prevent these becoming inoperable due to the effects of fire, smoke and hot gases.


Two commonly used main strategies in healthcare buildings are progressive horizontal evacuation (PHE) and defend in place (DIP).

PHE obviously must contain significant fire prevention measures so as to avoid fire breakouts wherever possible. However, should a fire start, prompt fire detection is imperative so it can be suppressed. Containment of the fire is necessary to allow the progressive evacuation of patients to the next safe space further from the fire on the same level.

DIP relies not only on the same preventative action as PHE, but also on automatic fire suppression measures, which will minimise the need to evacuate patients. These measures will also help to prevent damage to equipment, particularly when combined with smoke control systems or smoke containment.


In Part 62 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue to look at the practical implications of fire strategies in a healthcare environment, with systems and components. 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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