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Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises – Structural Fire Protection – Part 42

July 5, 2021 11:42 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 41 of Fire Engineering for Healthcare Premises, LWF began to look at structural fire protection and its use in providing fire resistance to healthcare buildings. In part 42, we will continue to discuss the use of structural fire protection in healthcare buildings.

With a healthcare building, as is the case with any other building, there is the potential for fire to spread from one building to another nearby as a result of flame contact or radiation heat transfer, which can occur through windows or other openings, or through openings made by partial structural collapse in the building of fire origin.

In order to avoid such instances, the boundary walls must remain intact for a suitable period and any windows should be limited in size or be fire-resisting including insulation, with the aim of reducing radiant heat to adjacent buildings. When a large hospital building is using PHE, the structure’s fire resistance must exceed the fire severity, for example.

Load-bearing elements of the structure must retain stability for the duration of the fire, in order to prevent collapse.

Fire resistance is usually expressed in minutes. For instance, a door might be described as an FD 60, which is a 60-minute fire resistant fire door. In furnace tests, the fire-resistance time is the length of time for which the structural element retains its stability or integrity in the test according to the pass/fail criteria.

While furnace testing gives a guideline amount of time, it should also be recognised that a furnace test may be quite different from a real fire situation in terms of the heating regime. Equally, furnace test can only test elements of a structure, rather than the whole.

In practice, various calculations may be made to predict fire-resistance, depending on the failure mode of the type of element of structure. It can therefore be assumed that the time rating from a fire-resistance test is a comparative measure, but not the literal survival time for building occupants in a real fire.

In Part 43 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue to discuss fire resistance and fire severity, the calculations and variables. 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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