The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Intensive Care Protection – Part 26

June 14, 2018 10:20 am

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, we look to give information on best practice in fire safety for hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 25, the use of external escape routes was raised and an outline given of how to give a safe and viable outside route to an external assembly point.  In part 26, LWF looks at the protection of those patients in Intensive Care wards in case of fire.


The avoidance of an evacuation in an intensive care department is the primary aim of any fire protection measures in place in that area of the building. Any attempt to move or evacuate patients could be potentially life-threatening and so should be avoided if at all possible.


It is necessary for precautions to be taken to address the possibility of fire and smoke in an adjacent compartment which is outside the intensive care area and within the section itself.


A suitable fire safe design is one which works to prevent a fire occurring in any adjacent area to the intensive care section, either in those sections surrounding it on the same floor, or the floors above or below, which would require intensive care to be evacuated.


All necessary heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems should be designed to negate the passage of smoke or fire between areas and the compartmentation of the unit must be sufficient so that an adequate period of time is available after the fire is discovered, allowing it to be extinguished before it threatens the occupants in neighbouring compartments.


Every door in the compartment wall, with the exception of those doors which open into the area from hospital street, should be provided with a protected lobby, each door of which will provide a minimum fire resistance of 30 minutes, reducing the potential for smoke ingress from a fire outside the intensive care department.


All intensive care departments should be sub-divided into at least two sub-compartments to allow for a separation between the nursing area (which contains the patients) and the utility area. For example, the nursing sub-compartment might contain bed areas, clean utility, dirty utility, linen store and status laboratory and the second utility sub-compartment might contain staff changing and rest rooms, seminar rooms, cleaners’ area, equipment storage, bulk storage and on-call areas.


In part 27 of this series, we continue looking at the fire protection of intensive care areas, starting with heating and ventilation system design. 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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