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Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Evacuation – Part 2

December 21, 2017 4:26 pm

Fire Safety for Healthcare premises is a blog series by LWF, aiming to give guidance on healthcare-based standards and best practice in fire safety. In Part 1, an overview of some of the challenges of fire safety in healthcare premises was outlined and in Part 2, we begin to discuss fire evacuation strategy and how this can be implemented in a healthcare environment.


As a part of the fire evacuation strategy, it is understood that high dependency and dependent patients should be moved on their bed or in a wheelchair, as needs dictate, to a place of refuge and safety on the same floor. If necessary, then the patients can be moved from that floor of the building or from that building to a place of safety as a second step.


The three main stages of evacuation are as follows:


1 – Evacuation on a horizontal basis – the movement of patients from the area of fire origin to an adjacent sub-compartment or compartment (compartment in this fire safety blog series refers to fire compartmentation – the dividing of an area into smaller compartments which are protected by fire-resistant materials during construction).


2 – Additional horizontal evacuation – the continued movement of people from the compartment of fire origin to compartments on the same floor. Subsequently, additional horizontal evacuation to adjacent compartments may be undertaken to provide additional fire resistant barriers between the patients and the fire. This should be undertaken prior to consideration of vertical evacuation.


3 – Vertical evacuation to a lower floor which is safe from the fire, or outside as required.


Evacuation should be considered or found necessary when one of the conditions below is identified:


Extreme Emergency – Where there is an immediate threat from fire or smoke.

Emergency – Where there is no immediate threat but fire and smoke may spread from an adjoining area.


Precautionary – There is no immediate threat but a fire has been identified on an adjoining floor or in an adjacent building.


In an extreme emergency, the evacuation should be carried out in order of urgency. Those in immediate danger must be moved first, followed by ambulant patients and then non-ambulant patients.


In Part 3 of this series, LWF will outline Progressive Horizontal Evacuation and the principles involved. In the meantime, if you have any queries about fire safety in healthcare premises or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


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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