The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – High Risk Fire Hazards & Precautions – Part 98

October 21, 2019 2:17 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 97, LWF looked at what fire safety measures should be taken in a healthcare environment which uses and stores radioactive substances. In part 98, we will discuss at how X-ray film should be stored depending upon its age and where it was produced.

The appropriate and adequate storage of X-ray film for fire safety purposes is an area of potential hazard in healthcare premises. X-ray film which is produced in the UK has a cellulose acetate base and although it will burn slowly, it is classified as ‘non-flam’. However, before 1941, X-ray film was made of cellulose nitrate and thus is highly flammable and even explosive at slightly raised temperatures. While the need to retain such film is decreasing, a small amount of storage must be set aside for this purpose.

Non-flam X-ray film has a similar degree of fire risk to that of stored paper and so steel cabinets are the most suitable containers for storage. In order to reduce possible risk, it is important that naked lights and other potential igniting agents are not permitted in the storage area.

As X-ray film can deteriorate when stored at low temperatures, the storeroom will be kept at approximately 10 degrees Celsius. The type of heater used to achieve this should be of the low-temperature type. Any electric heaters used should be the enclosed convector type, installed at a high level in the room, and controlled by a room thermostat.

The older cellulose nitrate film, where it must be kept, must be stored in completely enclosed metal containers which have tight-fitting lids. The containers must be clearly marked ‘highly flammable’ to adhere to the terms of the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

Should stocks of the cellulose nitrate film exceed 35 kg in weight, they must be stored in a room of fire-resisting construction of minimum one hour and the room must be used exclusively for the purpose of storing this type of x-ray film. The store should preferably be located away from other healthcare buildings and in this case, the construction’s fire-resistance can be reduced to 30 minutes. The store must be kept cool as this type of film can decompose after lengthy storage in a warm temperature. The door to the store must be permanently indicated as ‘highly flammable contents’.

In part 99 of this series, LWF will begin to look at the risks in physiotherapy departments. 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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