The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Structural Fire Protection – Part 23

February 22, 2021 12:31 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 22 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed fire detection and suppression by looking at heat detection, radiation detectors and detector placement. In part 23, we will look at sprinkler systems and gaseous suppression systems for healthcare premises.

Sprinkler systems are a commonly seen form of fire suppression in healthcare and other types of building. A sprinkler system is an active fire protection system comprising a network of sprinkler heads and pipework containing the water to supply the sprinkler heads. The idea is that a sprinkler system will activate upon detection of a fire and that the application of water in the area at the earliest opportunity will either extinguish or suppress the spread of the fire until it can be attended by the Fire Service.

The installation of a sprinkler system is subject to extensive prescriptive rules regarding the design of the sprinkler pipework and necessary water supplies for the sprinkler system.

In addition to the fire safety benefits offered by a sprinkler system, and indeed because of them, another advantage to the installation of a sprinkler system in a healthcare building is that other prescriptive requirements can be relaxed. This can allow, for example, an extension to travel times or distances during evacuation, or a reduction of building separation distances. More information can be gained from Health Technical Memorandum 05-02 and Approved Document B of the Building Regulations.

The use of fire suppression systems is not limited to sprinkler systems. An extinguishing system can be installed to control specific fire risks and types of fuel. Where a situation might call for a gaseous flooding suppression system, it is important that a room integrity test is successfully completed to demonstrate the system will work as designed, without the leaking of gas to other rooms or to the outside.

The gaseous flooding suppression system actually works on a similar basis to the sprinkler system in that it contains detectors, delivery points and pipework, except of course, it is designed to deliver inert gases and chemical agents to extinguish a fire where it is not possible to use a sprinkler system, as water could cause damage to essential equipment.

A gaseous flooding suppression system would be damaging to any persons in the area and so appropriate warnings and safety measures must be taken to ensure it is only delivered in specific areas confirmed empty of occupants.

In Part 24 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will begin to look at what happens when the Fire Service are summoned to a healthcare building. 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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