The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – Fire Protection Measures Solutions – Part 131

March 27, 2023 12:01 pm

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 130 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed the fourth example given in HTM 05-03 Part K – Floors on or above the third floor level accommodating patient-care areas. In part 131, we consider the fifth example – Dependent patients with highly infectious diseases.

In a healthcare building that exhibits certain characteristics or particular challenges to effective fire safety management, particular arrangements may need to be put into place to mitigate risks.

Facilities for patients suffering from highly infectious diseases are not provided at all hospitals, but rather a limited number of specialised locations. The wards are set up so that the patients may be isolated from all other patients and wards.

An increased standard of fire protection is necessary for these areas to minimise the need for evacuation in a fire situation. The necessity to do so is to protect the patients themselves, in addition to any other persons they may come into contact with should an evacuation become necessary.

For this reason, the following precautions should be considered for implementation:

  • Additional fire-resisting construction/compartmentation to help keep the fire and its products within the compartment of fire origin and protect the occupants of other compartments
  • Double-door protection: Although double doors are provided for infection control, when they are suitable fire doors, this will provide additional fire protection
  • A high level of observation: To ensure that any fire is spotted in its early stages and may be controlled with first aid fire equipment as appropriate
  • An increased level of fire safety training for staff: To facilitate staff awareness and ability to act if a fire starts
  • Pre-planned communications: For informing ward staff of the location and development of the fire and to allow for risk assessment in terms of when to evacuate the isolation area
  • Pre-planned evacuation route to minimise the potential for transmission of any infectious diseases to any non-infected persons

It should be borne in mind that the level of occupancy of such areas will have an effect on the potential for evacuation. If the area has relatively low occupancy, patients in or near the compartment of fire origin may be moved to another compartment within the infectious diseases area and remain safe for a given amount of time. However, if the area is fully occupied, such moves are unlikely to be possible and arrangements in terms of safety training and construction should be made on this assumption.

In Part 132 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will discuss the sixth example of alternative solutions given in HTM 05-03 – ‘Delayed evacuation of very high dependency patients’. 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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