The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Fire Alarm System Design – Part 132

June 15, 2020 1:08 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 131, LWF looked at lifts, smoke control systems and communication with the Fire Service. In part 132, we looking at how healthcare premises should communicate the presence of a fire to the Fire Service.

In healthcare premises, it is important that the fire alarm system should be connected directly to the fire and rescue service or to a remote centre, unless the system control is manned 24-hours a day by at least two persons. The duties incumbent on those employees include summoning the fire service, and so they must have immediate access to a dedicated outgoing telephone line or direct speech circuit to the local fire service control room.

It is not necessary for this to be the only duty of the two persons required, and so it would be acceptable to have the system in place as part of a switchboard, reception desk, or security office. Each member of staff must be fully trained in the processes necessary to understand and respond appropriately to the fire alarm system control panel.

Where a remote centre is used, the method of alarm transmission to the centre should be by a reliable continuously monitored connection, such as a direct line or through to an alarm monitoring station. It may be possible to also use radio networks, such as ambulance radio or Paknet, provided that there is sufficient regular monitoring of the communication path and that the system’s reliability has been proven.

BS EN 50518:2019 – Monitoring and Alarm Receiving Centres provides design and operation standards for remote centres.

While it is imperative that fires are reported promptly and the Fire Service attends, there is the potential for disruption and unnecessary call-outs due to false alarms, for instance. With this in mind, Health Technical Memorandum 05-03 Part H (PDF) makes provision for prompt investigation of an alarm incident prior to summoning the Fire Service.

If this system is to be implemented, the procedures must be discussed in advance with the Fire Service and patient safety must not be compromised. This blog series will look at HTM 05-03 in greater detail later in this series.

In Part 133, LWF will begin to look at technical recommendations for fire alarm systems in healthcare premises. 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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