The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Compartmentation – Part 35

August 13, 2018 12:35 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 34 of this series, we looked at the role of compartmentation in limiting the spread of fire from one area to another for at least the minimum period of fire resistance required. It was ascertained that this would allow evacuation from the area of fire origin to a nearby safe place and potentially, make available enough time for the Fire Service to attend and put out the fire. In part 35, we discuss how the openings in compartments must be protected to avoid the spread of fire.


It is essential that all openings in compartment walls and floors should be fire-resistant and provide the same period of resistance as the compartment structure.


Compartment integrity should be maintained by the limiting of openings to those which are absolutely necessary, as follows:


 Doors which are fire resistant to the same duration as the compartment structure.


 Openings for pipes of not more than 160 mm diameter which, in temperatures of 800°C will not soften or fracture sufficiently to allow flames or hot gases to pass through the wall of the pipe.


 Pipes of materials other than that mentioned above of not more than 40mm diameter.


 Pipes of any diameter that are provided with a proprietary seal, shown by testing to maintain fire resistance of the compartment structure.


 Ventilation ducts complying with BS 9999:2017 – Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings. Code of practice. Previously stated as BS 5588-9 in HTM 05-02, but updated.


 Refuse and laundry chutes of non-combustible construction, accessed through fire-resisting doors.


 Protected shafts.


In essence, only the above elements should be allowed to permeate the construction of a fire-resistant compartment and only then, when they meet the standards required in order to maintain the minimum period of fire-resistance required in that area.


It should be noted that in most cases, fire doors (doors which are fire-resistant) are self-closing and should not be propped open under any circumstances. In some situations, it may be assessed that the door should be an automatic fire door which can be left in the open position but will be automatically closed if smoke or fire actuates the fire alarm system.


In part 36 of this series, LWF will continue looking at compartmentation, beginning with the junctions of compartment walls with roofs. 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 Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.


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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