The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – Basement Escape & Protection – Part 140

May 30, 2023 10:51 am

LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals aims to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 139 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed the use of electronic locking devices on exit doors and the balance between fire safety and building security. In part 140, we talk about basement escape and protection from fire.

Any healthcare building with a basement level (other than a very small basement) should take particular care in the design of stairways leading to the basement. It is important that stairways serving the upper floors of the building do not extend down into the basement wherever possible, and should never do so if there is only one stairway serving the building.

A stairway that does extend from the basement to upper floors should be subject to fire separation at basement level. This means the provision of a fire-resisting lobby or corridor between the basement and the stairway.

If a healthcare building has a basement which will be occupied by more than 60 people, or if the basement has no fire exits which lead directly to a place of safety, it should be provided with at least two stairways to accommodate evacuation in a fire situation.

Any patients who are not fully ambulatory and who may access the basement level must be provided with safe egress not involving the use of a stairway to a final exit.

Where possible, access to a basement level should be made at ground level or access level from the open air. The positioning of the entrance/exit should be such that if there were a fire in the basement, the smoke and particulate matter would not obstruct any exit serving other floors of the building.

Where the building design necessitates the linking of the basement level with the ground floor through a stairway or other opening, the basement level should be separated from the ground floor lobby with two 30-minute fire-resisting doors, placing one at the basement level and another at the ground floor level.

Any floor over a basement should provide 60 minutes’ fire resistance to avoid the spread of fire from one level to the next. Where this is not practical, measures should be taken to ensure no smoke can pass through the floor and automatic smoke detectors as part of a fire alarm system should be provided in the basement area. The fire alarm system should make sufficient sound to be audible throughout the premises.

In Part 141 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will discuss provision of access and facilities for the Fire Service 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 since 1986 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.


Share this post