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Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – Managing Fire Safety – Part 112

November 7, 2022 12:41 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 111 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed surface finishes in healthcare buildings and the potential fire hazards they present. In part 112, we look at what materials for surface finishes achieve a Class 1 rating and are therefore suitable for areas of healthcare buildings.

It was established in part 111 that Class 1 surface finishings may be used on the ceiling of rooms other than circulation spaces and on the walls and ceilings of small rooms (up to 4 m2). Other areas should use Class 0 finishes.

There are some generic (non-branded) materials which achieve a Class 1 rating, including timber, hardboard, blockboard, particle board, heavy flock wallpaper and thermosetting plastics (when flame retardant treated to Class 1 standard).

Phenolic or melamine laminates on a calcium-silicate substrate and flame-retardant decorative laminates on a combustible core may also achieve Class 1 standards, depending upon the test evidence to substantiate the rating of the product.

The initial surface finish may be a Class 0 or Class 1 accepted standard, but the way the surface is treated over time can have an impact upon the fire hazard they present. It is possible that the addition of a noticeboard and the added posters, notices etc. such boards contain may increase the fire hazard of a wall beyond the accepted level.

Equally, the use of decorations or wall hangings can impact the potential fire hazard presented by the wall.

Certainly, the significance of such easily-made alterations need to be considered each time a change is made.

Small areas may be acceptable provided they do not amount to more than 5% of the total wall area. A noticeboard or poster would be a good example of this.

Repeated painting of a wall or surface with gloss paints can lead to a thickness of paint film which can become a high fire hazard. Fire could transfer rapidly over the surface and when the situation is found in a healthcare building, specialist technical advice should be sought.

In addition, it is increasingly common to see anti-graffiti surface paints and intumescent paints used and this should always be subject to a full consideration of the technical guidance provided by the manufacturer and consultation with a specialist where the paint is to be added to an already painted surface.

In Part 113 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will discuss floor coverings. 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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