The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Internal Fire Spread through Structure – Part 32

July 26, 2018 12:51 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 31, we discussed the potential for internal fire spread via linings and in part 32, we look at internal fire spread through the structure.


In England and Wales, the requirements relating to the internal fire spread and structure are laid out in the Building Regulations 2010, Part B of Schedule 1, as follows:




Internal fire spread (structure)




(1) The building shall be designed and constructed so that, in the event of fire, its stability will be maintained for a reasonable period.


(2) A wall common to two or more buildings shall be designed and constructed so that it adequately resists the spread of fire between those buildings. For the purposes of this subparagraph a house in a terrace and a semi-detached house are each to be treated as a separate building.


(3) Where reasonably necessary to inhibit the spread of fire within a building, measures shall be taken, to an extent appropriate to the size and intended use of the building, comprising either or both of the following:


a. sub-division of the building with fire-resisting construction;


b. installation of suitable automatic fire suppression systems.


(4) The building shall be designed and constructed so that unseen spread of fire and smoke within concealed spaces in its structure and fabric is inhibited.


While it is common to hear elements of a structure referred to as ‘fire-resistant’, the term actually describes the ability of a substance to withstand the effects of fire in one or more ways.


The first is its resistance to collapse – the ability of the element to maintain load-bearing capacity when exposed to fire.


The second is its resistance to fire penetration – the ability of the substance to retain integrity when exposed to fire.


The third is its resistance to the transfer to excessive heat – what kind of insulation it provides against high temperatures.


Load-bearing elements of the building must have a minimum period of fire resistance which assures protection from collapse or failure of load-bearing capacity. This is required so that the building occupants are protected while in a temporary place of safety within the building or are evacuating, to provide a reduced risk to Fire Service personnel attending and to reduce danger to people in the immediate area of the building.


The different elements of the structure can be classified as either a column, beam or other member forming part of the structural frame of the building; a load bearing wall or a floor.


In part 33 of this series, LWF will continue looking at Internal Fire Spread Through Structure. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities 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.



Share this post