The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises –FSO and Enforcement– Part 85

May 9, 2022 12:35 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 84 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF looked at the process of enforcement and appeals. In part 85, we continue to discuss the process of fire authority audits before introducing the subject of assessment areas.

Hospital premises are commonly made up of more than one building and, as each building will vary in its use, it is important that the fire authority inspecting officer responsible for the audit will first establish the use of each building, so he can prioritise those buildings of highest risk.

Some buildings may contain support services to the main hospital functions and, as such, they are likely to be lower risk and therefore will not need the same level of attention during the audit that patient care areas will.

Fire safety inspectors may need to undertake an audit or inspection if there have been complaints raised, excessive unwanted fire signals or for specific inspection reasons. It may also be the case that firefighters may visit hospitals in order to familiarise themselves with the buildings and situations that may occur, to prepare and plan for incidents, as per the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.

Some fire authorities use operational crews to undertake fire safety visits of lower-risk premises (such as offices) on hospital sites.

It should be noted that authorised fire safety inspectors will not undertake fire risk assessments on behalf of the responsible person.

Assessment Areas

Assessment areas are defined by the management of the healthcare premises with the purpose of assessing the fire hazards and people at risk as well as evaluating the fire risk. The boundaries are often determined by the functional layout of the healthcare premises, with each nursing and/or other management unit being an assessment area.

An assessment area may contain more than one fire compartment, but the boundaries of the assessment area must be marked by compartment walls and floors or sub-compartments, it would be no use attempting to separate assessment areas within a compartment as there is no physical or fire-resistant boundary.

Any assessment area which contains very high dependency patients must be enclosed by compartment walls.

In Part 86 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue to look at the use and definition of assessment areas. 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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