The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – High Risk Fire Hazards & Precautions – Part 101

November 11, 2019 2:04 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 100, LWF looked at another potential high-risk fire area – the use of magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment. In part 101, we will continue to look at the nature of fire risks found in the magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment areas.

An authorised person who is able to take responsibility for the controlled area within the magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment area should be available 24 hours a day, so that they may assist the Fire Service in case of a fire. The role could be organised on an on-call basis.

There are three different types of magnet systems used by such equipment:

Resistive Magnet Systems – If a fire were to occur in a magnetic resonance diagnostic unit which contained a resistive magnet, the electric power must be isolated immediately and the area surrounding the unit should be evacuated of all persons until the power is successfully isolated, when they may re-enter if necessary.

Permanent Magnet Systems – It is not possible to switch off the field associated with a permanent magnet. The fringe field is lower than that of other magnets, only up to 1 m from the magnet. Closer than a metre, the strength of the field increases steeply which causes intense forces on ferromagnetic materials. A prominent warning notice must be placed at the entrance to the controlled area and on the magnet which states that the field is permanently energised.

Superconducting Magnet Systems – these magnet systems involve the use of liquid helium and the magnet should be quenched prior to the emergency services entering the inner controlled area with ferromagnetic materials. Prominent warning notices must be displayed. Quenching involves the boiling-off of large quantities of helium and should be carried out only by suitably qualified and authorised personnel.

Because magnetic resonance diagnostic equipment is very expensive, the protection of it by a permanent automatic fire extinguishing system may be justified. When consideration of type of system is taking place, the manufacturer of the equipment should be consulted as to which agents are best suited.

Further information on this subject can be gained from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) DB 2007 (03) ‘Safety guidelines for magnetic resonance imaging equipment in clinical use’.

In part 102 of this series, LWF will look at potential fire hazards during building operations in healthcare buildings. 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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