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Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – In-Patient Mental Health & Learning Disability Facilities continued – Part 12

March 8, 2018 11:26 am

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals to give advice and information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 11, we discussed the necessity of adhering to specific design requirements for fire safety in in-patient mental health and learning disability facilities and the necessity of access and egress for patients with restricted mobility, as well as the potential for moving patients on their beds as a part of evacuation. In part 12, the separation of areas which are accessed by patients from other parts of the healthcare premises is considered.


As a part of the general requirement in healthcare premises to facilitate progressive horizontal evacuation, there is a necessity to minimise the likelihood of fire starting in non-patient areas which could affect or spread to patient-access areas.


As per the guidance given in HTM 05-02, non-patient access areas are divided into the following categorisations:


Hazard departments – departments or management units which contain high fire loads and/or noted ignition sources. Hazardous departments should be separated physically and by distance from patient-access areas and must not be adjacent, either horizontally or vertically unless precautions have been taken which provide additional and adequate fire protection. Such protection may take the form of construction which is fire-resistant to an enhanced level and duration.


Non-hazard departments – consists of departments or management units which do not contain the hazards indicated in the first category. Such areas may be planned adjacently to patient access areas, provided they are separated by fire-resistant compartment walls and floors.


Patient access areas must always be in a separate compartment to non-patient access areas. HTM 05-02 includes a table which gives guidance on the protection which should be given to specific areas and departments/management units. As a rough guide, in a normal dependency situation, there should be 60+ minute fire-resisting construction between patient and non-patient access areas, plus in many areas, there will be a necessity for active fire auto-suppression. In very high dependency areas, the vast majority of non-patient access areas are not allowed to be adjacent to patient accessed areas at all. Each situation must be assessed fully and the relevant guidances adhered to.


Part 13 of this series will continue to look at inpatient mental health & learning disability facilities, starting with how staffing levels should be organised and giving guidance on the FSO’s definition of a ‘responsible person’. In the meantime, if you have any queries about fire safety in healthcare premises or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


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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