The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Risk Assessment – Part 29

April 6, 2021 12:16 pm

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 28 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed exit choices and egress modelling. In part 29, we begin to look at Risk Assessment.

Fire Risk Assessments in healthcare premises can be particularly challenging, given the nature of the activities and building occupants. Patient care and protection is paramount and the inability to simply evacuate everybody from a building when a fire alarm sounds means that provisions must be made for those receiving care, particularly those patients with high dependency.

Sensitivity analyses look at how variables and uncertainties in a mathematical model can contribute to the model’s overall uncertainty. Such analysis is essential in order to test the robustness of the fire engineering analysis conclusions. It is usual and necessary, therefore, for the FE analysis conclusions to err on the side of caution and encompass worst case scenarios.

Elementary methods might include a managed approach, such as the day to day ongoing risk management, for example, ensuring that good practice referred to within the risk assessment is maintained. This ongoing risk management will form part of an overall safety culture and will assist in demonstrating compliance.

Points schemes – whilst these are not necessarily calibrated, over time ‘they appear to work’ and can be considered successful. These methods may not be easily transferrable to other risk assessment approaches.

Subjectivity is an element of the process too. The user of the scheme must assign numerical values to various parameters, as with other types of risk assessment. Some risk assessment schemes simplify the process by restricting input to yes or no responses to the list of questions, however this can be difficult to quantify in the case of some questions, such as ‘quality of staff’.

Fire statistics can give biased samples, because they are taken from all fires and because of the way they are collected. They are based on those fires which the Fire Service has attended and while this can be useful, it cannot be relied upon as the full picture as it is estimated the Fire Service attend perhaps 15% of all fires occurring.

In Part 30 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will look at safety factors in Risk Assessment. 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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