The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Fire Alarm System Design – Part 126

May 4, 2020 12:27 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 125, LWF considered how dependent patients are affected by the fire alarm. In part 126, we will continue looking at the use of fire alarms in very high dependency patient areas, before considering system control and information display.

While it is essential for staff to be alerted to the fire alarm signal in all relevant areas of a healthcare building, including patient areas, it is not appropriate to cause panic or distress for patients, particularly in very high dependency areas.

One significant way in which the volume of alarm sounders can be controlled and the potential for disturbance minimised in patient areas is to install a greater number of quiet sounders rather than fewer very loud sounders.

In very high dependency patient areas, it may be more appropriate for visual alarm devices to be used rather than alarm sounders. A loud audible alarm would not be appropriate in areas such as operating theatres, ITU and special care baby units.

Where auditory units are required, but it is desirable to reduce the impact of an alarm siren sound, it may be advisable to use a voice alarm system. A voice alarm system will emit a pre-recorded message giving information on the situation. All voice alarm systems should comply with BS 5839-8 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of voice alarm systems.

System Control and Information Display

In non-healthcare environments, it may be appropriate to have a fire alarm system which sounds for the entire building and a full evacuation is performed. In a healthcare building, it is necessary to have a system which is capable and set up to give information on the existence and source of an alarm.

There are three main reasons why this information is necessary:

1) To enable the Fire Service to be summoned
2) To ensure staff can respond in accordance with local evacuation procedures
3) To allow the Fire Service to respond to the source of the alarm

The fire service or hospital staff will need to be able to control the system in order to undertake and control phased evacuation of the building.

In Part 127, LWF will continue looking at the fire alarm system and information display and how it can be used in a fire situation. 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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