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Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Occupant Profiling – Part 114

February 10, 2020 3:24 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 113, LWF began to discuss the HTM 05-03 documents, Part B, which relates to fire detection and alarm systems. In part 114, we will take a look at occupant profiling – the ways in which the behaviour of people who will use the healthcare building should affect the measures provided to protect them from fire.

The dependency and likely behaviour of building occupants can have a significant impact on the efficiency of provided fire safety precautions and fire safe design. Each and every occupant should be provided for appropriately and the measures installed must recognise and address the fire safety needs of those at greatest risk. It would be inappropriate to set up a fire safety system for a hospital that would be suitable in a hotel, as they are very different environments and are likely to have vastly different occupancies.

HTM 05-02 ‘Guidance to support functional provisions for healthcare premises’ (PDF) provides categories into which occupants of healthcare premises fit after considering their likely dependency or behaviour.

Independent – The first category is for those patients whose mobility is not impaired in any way and who are able to physically evacuate the premises without assistance, or if they have some mobility impairment but are able to leave with another person providing minimal assistance. Persons considered ‘Independent’ would be able to climb or descend stairs either unaided or with minimal assistance and be able to read and understand the emergency wayfinding signage around the premises.

While some patients may be considered ‘Independent’ while they are not actually undergoing treatment, they may not be able to be considered a part of this categorisation if treatment would mean they were unable to immediately evacuate the premises if needed without aid. This would mean they are unable to be considered a part of the ‘Assembly Group’ classification of Approved Document B and therefore the higher requirements of Firecode guidance should be applied.

Dependent – Dependent patients are all the ones not classified as ‘Independent’ or ‘Very High Dependency’

Very High Dependency – Patients whose clinical treatment or condition mean that they have a high dependency on staff, including those who are in intensive care/intensive therapy units, operating theatres and those patients for whom evacuation could prove life-threatening.

In Part 115 of the series, LWF will look at how healthcare premises standards relate to BS 5839-1. 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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