The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – High Risk Fire Hazards & Precautions – Part 95

September 30, 2019 1:49 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 94, LWF began to discuss another high-risk fire hazard area – Laundries. In part 95, we will continue looking at the nature of the risks in laundries and what actions should be taken to avoid fires.

Laundries are commonly at risk from fires caused by smouldering linen. The cause of this type of spontaneous combustion is due to slow oxidation of the textiles within the load, leading to a build-up of heat at the centre of bulk loads. Such issues can go unnoticed for quite some time, perhaps even several hours, as little heat or smoke is produced externally. If left unchecked, however, the material will ultimately burst into flame.

The spontaneous combustion of linens is more likely when hot laundry is taken from a dryer or calender and packed tightly into a trolley or truck. Residual traces of oil, grease, wax, soap, rubber or similar materials on the fabric will exacerbate the potential outcome.

With this in mind, particular care should be taken when tumble drying laundry. Operating procedures should be designed with fire safety in mind and the following precautions taken:

– Laundry must not be over-dried in the tumble dryer
– Loads in the tumble dryer must be removed immediately upon completion and not left
– Tumble dryers should be unloaded and left empty overnight
– All tumble-dried items should be separated and folded immediately after unloading. Where this is not possible, the items in the load should be removed from the dryer and spread out so as to encourage heat loss.
– The tumble dryers used should have a manual or preferably automatic means of cooling the dried load at the end of the cycle.

NHS laundries should make clear the proper instructions for fire safe laundry processes and these should be displayed in appropriate positions both within the laundry and in residential accommodation areas for staff where tumble dryers are provided.

Regular cleaning of the laundry equipment and area is essential to remove residual fluff which can easily and quickly ignite in a fire situation. This should include the removal of fluff from electric motors, heating coils, tumbler ducts and roof trusses. Particular attention should also be paid to the underside of calender beds and the operating mechanisms of cabinet-style garment finishing machines.

In part 96 of this series, LWF will look at radioactive substances and registration procedures. 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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