The LWF Blog

Fire Risk Assessment for Healthcare Premises – Managing Fire Safety – Part 115

November 28, 2022 12:37 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 114 of Fire Risk Assessments for Healthcare Premises, LWF discussed fire-resisting structures. In part 115, we talk more about compartmentation and the requirements for healthcare buildings.

In healthcare premises facilitating dependent or very high dependency patients, compartment sizes are limited. The maximum compartment size for the assessment area should be 900-2000 m2 or up to 3000 m2 for single-storey buildings. As noted in the previous blog, each compartment should have a fire-resisting floor and have a minimum period of fire resistance of 60 minutes.

The fire resistance standard of a compartment is only as good as the fire resistance of any opening into the compartment. The most obvious openings are doors, which should have a fire resistance equivalent to the structure of the compartment.

Equally, smaller apertures must be fire-stopped. Certain pipes must be used, as follows:

  • Cast iron or steel pipes of not more than 160 mm diameter
  • Pipes of other materials of not more than 40 mm diameter
  • Pipes such as those which support vacuum operated tissue-sample pod transport systems with a proprietary seal, shown by test to maintain the fire resistance of the compartment structure (to an equivalent level) of any diameter

Any ventilation ducts installed should comply with the requirements of BS 9999 Fire Safety in the design, management and use of buildings, code of practice.

Waste and laundry chutes should be of non-combustible construction, accessed through fire-resisting doors and all shafts must be protected.

Every opening into the compartment, be it of a significant size, as some of the items named above, or a drill hole for a wire to pass through should be adequately fire-stopped so as to prevent the passage of smoke and fire from one compartment to the next. One aperture that is unprotected can jeopardise the fire safety of the entire compartment.

Particular attention should be paid to any alterations undertaken post-build to ensure the standard of fire protection of the original construction is maintained.

Compartment floors may also be subject to openings. Stairways, lifts, escalators and any pipes or ducts not complying with the requirements should be enclosed in a protected shaft having the same period of fire resistance (integrity, insulation and where applicable, load-bearing capacity) as the compartment floor.

In Part 116 of LWF’s blog series, LWF will continue discussing compartmentation in healthcare buildings. 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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