The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – FSO & Enforcement – Part 86

May 16, 2022 11:16 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 85 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed the process of fire authority audits before introducing the subject of assessment areas. In part 86, we look at the use and definition of assessment areas.

An assessment area within a healthcare building is a defined area for the purposes of undertaking risk assessment and evaluating fire hazards. It may contain more than one compartment area and is likely to reflect the functional layout, e.g. nursing areas, management units etc.

An assessment area would not normally incorporate more than one floor, but it is possible that this should be the case where a single nursing or management unit has a presence on different floors. It may be that there are sleeping areas and day spaces on different floors, for example.

When undertaking the assessment, it is important that escape routes from the area are included. Escape routes can include circulation areas, stairways, escape bed lifts, progressive horizonal evacuation (to take refuge in adjacent areas on the same level), escape to ground level and final escape to a place of safety. Where evacuation to an adjacent area is planned, this must be a suitable separate fire-resisting compartment.

An accurate assessment cannot normally be carried out on premises that are not occupied. The healthcare building must be operational before any assessment can be completed.

A fire risk assessment includes many factors – fire hazards, people potentially at risk, building layout, physical fire precautions, staffing and management. Changes to any element will necessitate a review and revision of the fire risk assessment.

Non-patient-access areas of healthcare premises, especially hospitals, may present a hazard should a fire start outside an assessment area and should not be in the same compartment as an assessment area.

When the healthcare building has been divided into appropriate assessment areas, it is then possible to undertake the fire risk assessment.

Patient-access areas include wards, outpatient departments, accident & emergency departments, theatres. Non-patient-access areas might include laundry, kitchens, offices, stores, etc.

In Part 87 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will begin to look at how to begin a fire risk assessment in a patient-access area. 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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