The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Fire Alarm System Design – Part 131

June 8, 2020 1:23 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 130, LWF discussed the cause and effect logic for Access Control Systems, before touching on HVAC systems. In part 131, we look at lifts, smoke control systems and communication with the Fire Service.

Lifts in healthcare buildings

In healthcare buildings where lifts are in use and they may discharge into alarm zones where the alert or evacuate signal is given, they should be returned to ground level (or the level of final exit from the building, where different) and then disabled once the passengers have disembarked.

Where the alert or evacuate signal is applied to the ground or final exit level, the lift should be held at an alternative level and then disabled from future use.

Escape lifts should not be controlled by the fire alarm system once they are brought back into service again, after operation of the “evacuation control” switch.

Smoke control systems in healthcare buildings

Any smoke control systems or extract systems used in areas of healthcare premises, for example, atriums, on-site shops and basements should only be actuated automatically if fire is detected in the areas they serve.

Communication with the Fire Service

The Fire Service must be summoned immediately if a fire alarm occurs in patient-access areas of a healthcare building. A minimum acceptable response is to call the 999 emergency service to ask for the Fire Service. It may also be necessary for fire alarm signals to be transmitted automatically to the Fire and Rescue Service or to a remote monitoring centre whose role it is to action sending the Fire Service to the site.

A remote centre may be an NHS facility, such as an ambulance control centre or permanently manned telephone switchboard of another healthcare facility, or it may be a central station.

Where other NHS premises are utilised, the standards and service offered should be equivalent to that given in central stations. Preference should always be given to remote centres having third-party certification.

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is not designed for the transmission of fire alarm signals and therefore the use of digital communicators or auto-diallers is not recommended.

In Part 132, LWF will continue looking at how healthcare premises should communicate the presence of a fire to 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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