The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – High Risk Fire Hazards & Precautions – Part 106

December 16, 2019 2:26 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 105, LWF looked at the potential high risk of fire where medical gases are present. In part 106, we continue from that point by considering the precautions that should be taken when using oxygen in a healthcare venue, to reduce the risk of fire accidents.

When oxygen therapy is in use, it is important that appropriate fire safety warning signs and labels are displayed to alert staff, patients and visitors to the need for additional precautions to be taken. The minimum wording for a precautionary sign is:




In addition to the wording, the sign should display the approved HSE graphic symbols for ‘hazard’ and ‘no smoking’.

When oxygen canopies and tents are used, the outside of the fabric should be labelled as well as the inside so that the patient is informed of the precautions necessary. Consideration may need to be given to displaying signs in other languages.

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers can be pressurised with oxygen up to three atmospheres (30 psi gauge – 2 Bar). Pressurised oxygen is a greater fire risk than standard oxygen and it should be noted that removing the patient from a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can take a certain amount of time. For this reason, the most stringent fire precautions must be taken to avoid ignition both in and around the oxygen chamber. Such precautions must include the design of electrical services within the area.

Oxygen that is released or removed from hyperbaric oxygen chambers should be dispersed safety to avoid the potential for a high concentration of oxygen concentration in the event of an emergency release of oxygen from the chamber. Piping outlets direct to the outside atmosphere can provide a solution, but if this is not feasible, mechanical extract ventilation can be provided in areas communicating with chambers.

It should be borne in mind that any fire extinguishers for use in the area of a hyperbaric chamber should have sufficient operating pressure to be effective in the higher ambient pressures.

In part 107 of this series, LWF will begin to look at how to prepare for a fire emergency in a healthcare venue. 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

Share this post