The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Fire Alarm Technical Recommendations – Part 135

July 6, 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 134, LWF looked at the siting of manual call points in healthcare premises. In part 135, we will discuss automatic fire detectors.

The use of point-type smoke detectors is most commonplace in healthcare premises. Exceptions can usually be found in kitchens, where unwanted fire signals would result and where point-type heat detectors are used instead.

It is important that the circumstances into which fire detectors are installed are considered and the most appropriate detector is used. Some detectors are designed only for use in specific ways; beam-type smoke detectors might be suitable for use in a large, open-plan entrance hall as they could prove both economical and efficient. Where low-flashpoint flammable liquids are stored or in use, it might be appropriate to use flame detectors. Critical equipment, such as in computer rooms, may be protected by an aspirating smoke detection system.

In a healthcare building, circulation spaces such as corridors and stairways commonly have optical-type smoke detectors installed, unless the use of an ionisation chamber detector is necessary in order to avoid unwanted fire signals.

The choice of detector for an area should be made by considering the nature of the fire load (and therefore the type of fire) and the importance of avoiding unwanted fire signals while providing adequate protection. It is important that adequate protection is provided, even if this might result in an occasional unwanted fire signal. BS 5839-1 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises provides guidance on detector selection.

In healthcare buildings where the fire detection system controls automatic door releases, smoke detectors must be provided relatively close to the doors and on both sides of the opening. Provided that detectors have not been omitted from an L1 system as part of a fire risk assessment, no additional detectors will be required in those spaces. Where this is not the case, detectors must be provided on both sides of the door opening, between 0.5 and 1.5 metres away, to ensure the correct operation of the automatic door release.

In Part 136, LWF will discuss unwanted fire signals in healthcare environments. 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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