The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – Managing Fire Safety – Part 107

October 3, 2022 10:57 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 106 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed means of escape by considering the sub-division of corridors for fire safety purposes. In part 107, we will look at protected stairways for means of escape.

The design of stairways within healthcare premises should be with the aim of positioning the stairway so all patients from the assessment areas can be evacuated by the most appropriate method. The suitability of a stairway can be assessed by provision of an emergency evacuation plan for the assessment area which lays out the preferred methods of evacuation.

A protected stairway should be enclosed in a protected shaft to prevent the ingress of smoke and fire for the duration of an evacuation (and until and while the Fire Service undertake their work if the stairway is also a firefighting stair) and should have either direct or protected lobby access to the outside at ground level or access level. The access should be suitable for the evacuation of patients and lead away from the building to a place of total safety.

A stairway may be suitable to serve more than one assessment area, but it is important that the overall width of the stairways provided is sufficient for the number of people to be evacuated, while considering the evacuation policy of the healthcare premises. The policy may include progressive horizontal evacuation rather than a full-scale immediate evacuation which may alter the required width of the stairways.

Any external stairways used to facilitate an evacuation must be protected from smoke and fire which may issue from openings in the building envelope, for instance, doors, windows etc. An external stairway may not be an appropriate escape stairway for very high dependency patients and consideration of the potential evacuation of such must be undertaken at an early stage of the building and fire safety design process.

Dependent and very high dependency patients should be accommodated on a floor no more than 12 metres above ground-floor level – a distance that is typically three floors. This means also that the assessment area should be situated in the same way, although there are mitigating actions which can be taken should this prove impractical.

In Part 108 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will consider the ways that an assessment area can be situated higher than the third storey where necessary, as well as looking at staff-assisted evacuation. 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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