The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – Electrical locking devices– Part 138

May 15, 2023 11:30 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 137 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF looked at time-delay electromagnetic locks on fire doors, before considering the design, installation and management of electronic exit-door control devices. In part 138, we discuss how the risk assessment can show what devices are required and the conditions associated.

As noted in the previous blog, access and exit control are quite different systems. An access control system can still allow immediate egress in a fire situation. An exit control device prevents or delays exiting through the door and can be a significant issue in an evacuation situation.

The use of any devices (other than those complying with BS EN 1125 ‘Horizontal push bar’ or BS EN 179 ‘Lever handle or push pad’) may be considered acceptable for use by the enforcing authorities if it can be demonstrated through a risk assessment of each door that the need and management controls necessary are present and that people can escape safely from the premises.

  • All other viable alternatives should have been considered and evaluated prior to deciding upon an exit control device.
  • A need for additional exit control systems should be assessed carefully and not used in place of good management systems for employees and occupants.
  • All exit control devices, if fitted, must be in accordance with BS 7273-4 and meet the requirements for category A actuation, as follows:
    • There should be provided a means of manually over-riding the locking device at each exit, such as a break-glass point. Any variation must be justified with an individual risk assessment – e.g. the fitting of a remote override at a continually-staffed nurse station.
    • The device should be connected to the fire warning and/or fire detection system to allow it to release automatically when a fire is detected.
    • In a building containing a large number of people, the device should only be considered when it would be linked to a comprehensive automatic fire-detection and warning system, e.g. L1 or L2.
  • Emergency exit doors should be clearly labelled with instructions on how to operate.
  • In public areas, push bars should release the electromagnetic locks immediately.
  • Each emergency exit door should be fitted with a single securing device when the premises are occupied.

In Part 139 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue to discuss the use of electronic door locking devices. 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.

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