The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – FSO and Enforcement – Part 82

April 25, 2022 12:08 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 81 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed ‘as low as reasonably possible’ (ALARP) and how it is used in assessing the adequacy of fire precautions. In part 82, we look at the requirements for fire detection in healthcare premises.

The earliest and possibly the best method of fire detection is when a fire is seen by a person in the building. The earliest stages of a fire are not always detectable by smoke or fire detection systems but are very obvious to someone with a direct line of sight. Many healthcare buildings are ideally designed for staff members to have a wide view of areas such as wards containing patient beds and as such, offer a benefit in terms of fire safety. Fire statistics have estimated that 70% of fires in hospitals are detected by staff, patients or visitors, as quoted in Firecode.

Most ward layouts offer approximately a 90% chance of a fire being detected by staff. Hospitals offering single rooms on wards see a reduction in this percentage, for obvious reasons. In these cases, the provision of an automatic fire detection system should be a high priority and alternative arrangements for patient care must be made while the system is installed.

Where a more open layout exists with a high degree of observation, an automatic fire detection system should still be installed, but this may be a lower priority and the time-frame agreed with the Fire Authority.

Whether the automatic fire alarm system is installed or not, there remains an advantage to staff noticing potential fire situations and that is the filtering out of false alarms. Smoking, for instance, is not allowed on hospital premises, but can still be a cause of a fire alarm. Additionally, staff are ideally placed to notice if certain activities or processes might cause unwanted fire alarm signals.

The availability of staff on site to notice the early stages of a fire and potential false fire alarm signals is only useful when there are adequate fire safety management procedures in place. First aid fire equipment such as fire blankets, fire extinguishers etc. should be provided as appropriate, but also, the effective reporting of any issues seen and any false alarm causes can help to ensure fire occurrences and false alarms are kept to a minimum and the system works effectively.

In Part 83 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will look at staircases and enforcement action. 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.

Share this post