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Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Fire Alarm System Design – Part 130

June 1, 2020 1:30 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 129, LWF discussed ancillary services. In part 130, we will look at the cause and effect logic for Access Control Systems, before touching on HVAC systems.

Access control systems are designed to control the doors within premises and specifically, in the zones designated for fire safety purposes. When the ‘evacuate’ signal is sounded, the doors in the relevant zone(s) should automatically release to allow evacuation from that area without restriction or delay.

The fire alarm and detection system must be connected to any security doors which would, on a normal basis, prohibit access to defined areas or the exterior of the area. The system should be configured to release those locked doors which provide access to those areas required for use during progressive evacuation and not to any other area, as this could divert valuable resources towards finding and redirecting people when attention should be on fire safety and safe evacuation.

Security locks should be configured as part of the fire alarm and fire detection system so as to facilitate patient containment where necessary, while remaining responsive to fire safety requirements.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)

Mechanical ventilation and air-conditioning systems should not normally be simply stopped when a fire alarm operates. Where there is a full or partial recirculation system, however, it should be diverted in the alarm zone where the ‘evacuate’ signal is given and the extract diverted to discharge into open air. This is to avoid the recirculation of smoke and fumes. It must be remembered that ductwork passing through compartmentation and sub-compartmentation would be subject to protection of some form, i.e. enclosure or provision of dampers.

It may be required as a part of the contract for the fire alarm system that manual controls are available to allow the Fire Service to control ventilation plant. Where necessary, the manual controls should be sited adjacent to the fire alarm control panel or by the department entrance.

In Part 131, LWF will discuss lifts, smoke control systems and communications with the Fire Service. 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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