The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Scope of Part J – Part 3

October 5, 2020 1:01 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 2 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF considered the scope of Part J in terms of how the application of fire engineering principles can be used as an alternative to prescriptive fire safety guidance to achieve safety standards. In part 3, we will continue looking at fire engineering from the perspective of fire safety in healthcare environments.

When designing a healthcare building, or reassessing the fire safety provision of an existing building, it is not acceptable to rely on external assistance from the Fire Service as a part of the evacuation plan. Equally, no reliance can be placed on any type of escape equipment that requires manipulation, for example, chutes or portable ladders. In a fire emergency, it is essential that any building occupants are able to evacuate to a place of relative safety, or be moved with assistance from staff only.

Fire safety is not the sum total of physical fire protection measures installed in a building. Instead it comprises those elements, along with plans to assist patients in various stages of dependency, the risk assessment of any fire hazards in the premises, management policies and availability of an adequate number of appropriately trained staff.

When considering the dependencies of patients and other persons in the context of fire safety and evacuation, they are classified as one of three types: Independent (may include visitors, for example), dependent or very high dependency.

The classifications are based on a person’s anticipated mobility and/or dependence either during an evacuation procedure or as a consequence of treatment they are receiving.

Independent patients are so classified if they have unimpaired mobility and are able to physically leave the premises without staff assistance, or, if they may require minimal assistance. It should be noted that independence in this way should also indicate that they are able to understand wayfaring signs.

All other patients, apart from those classed as ‘very high dependency’, are classed as dependent.

Very high dependency patients are those whose clinical treatment and/or condition means they have a very high dependency on staff. They are most often located in critical care areas and operating theatres. Evacuation of such patients could prove life-threatening.

In LWF’s next blog – Part 4 of this series we consider what fire engineering is, from the perspective of fire safety in healthcare environments. 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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