The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Fire Alarm Technical Recommendations – Part 133

June 23, 2020 9:50 am

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 132, LWF looked at t how healthcare premises should communicate the presence of a fire to the Fire Service. In part 133, we begin to consider the technical requirements of fire alarms in healthcare premises, starting with manual call points.

Manual call points are commonly seen in buildings of all kinds as a part of the fire alarm system. They are usually a small red plastic-encased box on a wall with a frangible element inside, allowing personnel to raise an alarm in case of a fire incident.

BS 5839-1 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises allows up to 45 metres of travel distance between any point in a building and the nearest manual call point. However, in healthcare patient access areas, a smaller distance is more appropriate.

When a fire occurs, it is important to minimise the time taken between fire discovery and raising the alarm. As soon as the fire alarm is raised, trained staff and the Fire Service can be mobilised to attend and deal with the fire. In addition, the person who discovered the fire may need to return quickly to the area of fire origin in order to assist in evacuation of patients or first-aid firefighting.

The manual call points in patient access areas should be located on the accommodation side of exits to protected stairways, rather than on stairway landings and there will often be a fire point of fire extinguishers positioned nearby.

If the manual call point was to be sited on the stairway side of the landing, a call point could be triggered by a person descending the stairs having seen a fire on the floor above. This would lead to the evacuation signal being given for the incorrect area and no evacuation signal potentially being given for the area of fire origin, where two-stage fire alarm signals are in use.

Manual call points should be sited on both sides of main doorways between detection zones and this is especially important in the case of main doorways between compartments and sub-compartments. This positioning will allow the alarm signal to indicate a more accurate location at the fire alarm indicating equipment point.

In Part 134, LWF will continue looking at the siting of manual call points 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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