The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Preparing for a Fire Emergency – Part 109

January 6, 2020 2:52 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 108, LWF began talking about Escape Routes. In part 109, LWF will discuss evacuation from a healthcare building, starting with the primary aims.

While for the majority of premises, the term evacuation tends to imply that people will leave the building when the fire alarm sounds, that is not always the case within healthcare premises. Evacuation can mean moving outside of the building to a place of safety, but it can also refer to the movement of patients, staff and other persons to a nearby place of safety within the building.

The main aims of evacuation in healthcare premises are to ensure that patients, staff and others are removed from a dangerous situation, while keeping the distance travelled as short as possible. Routes which may be used by the Fire Service and others involved in firefighting are to be avoided. The overall aim is to move patients from proximity to the fire to a suitable space away from the fire, where their treatment can be continued until the situation is declared safe.

A roll-call must also be performed. To this end, it is helpful to have a dedicated clipboard and pen for the purpose immediately available.

While preparations for a fire emergency should be made and procedures put into place, fire is unpredictable and so while training on emergency procedures is essential, so is a calm approach to the emergency situation along with the use of common sense and initiative.

Management of specific areas must develop their evacuation plan based on criteria such as the physical constraints of that area of the building, the abilities of the staff and the nature of the patients likely to be present. For example, it would be much simpler to evacuate a walk-in treatment centre than a high-dependency ward. In the case of patients who are mobile and conscious, it may be possible to evacuate to an outside area for roll-call and to wait for the Fire Service to declare the building safe to re-enter (where possible). A high-dependency ward, however, would require onwards evacuation to a suitable and fire-safe area where treatment can be continued uninterrupted.

In part 110 of this series, LWF will look at the considerations that managers of specific areas must undertake when developing an emergency evacuation plan. 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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