The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Structural Fire Protection – Part 41

June 28, 2021 11:29 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 40 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed the use of SHEVS to remove smoke and air replacement. In part 41, we will begin to look at structural fire protection and its use in providing fire resistance to healthcare buildings.

Structural fire protection is applied to a structure, commonly at the time of construction, to afford the building a determined level of fire resistance. Structural fire protection, sometimes referred to as passive fire protection, is an essential part of any fire safety design and is particularly important in hospitals as it helps to prevent the spread of fire and to prevent structural collapse.

In the case of a healthcare building, structural fire protection works to protect not only the building structure but the contents which can be essential, expensive and life-saving equipment.

Fire resistance is not only necessary for structural and contents protection, it is also important for life safety purposes as slowing the fire’s growth and limiting its spread can allow tenable conditions to continue for a sufficient period to ensure a safe evacuation of occupants. This is particularly relevant in large or tall buildings and in healthcare premises where some of the occupants will be unable to self-evacuate and will require assistance.

Structural fire protection can allow patients to remain in place and under care until the fire is brought under control by the Fire Service and fire suppression systems, in certain circumstances.

The tenability of conditions afforded by effective passive fire protection measures can also make the task of the Fire Service easier and the environment safer for firefighters, who are likely to enter or remain in the building after other building occupants have left.

The structural fire protection measures incorporated into the building, be it healthcare focussed or other, are based on subdividing the interior into fire-resistant compartments. The compartment boundaries – floor, ceiling, walls – are designed to contain fire, smoke and hot gases from passing to the next area. The construction will be designed to withstand fire for a designated period, allowing an opportunity for evacuation to a safe place of occupants and for the fire to be suppressed or extinguished by the Fire Service.

In Part 42 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue to discuss the use of structural fire protection in healthcare buildings. 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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