The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Sprinklers – Part 44

October 18, 2018 9:58 am

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 43 of this series, we discussed cavity barriers and those areas where they are not practical for use, for fire safety reasons. In part 44, we move on to discuss the use of sprinklers in healthcare buildings.


Sprinklers are not a requirement for patient areas of healthcare buildings which do not exceed 30 m in height, as per HTM 05-02. This means that sprinklers are not a requirement for life safety purposes and may be used to protect areas of the property or in high-hazard spaces.


The design team for a healthcare building should be encouraged to consider the advantages that the installation of sprinklers for life safety purposes might bring and they might consider it appropriate for sprinklers to be installed throughout the building or in specific areas only. Where there are specific hazards within the building, an alternative to sprinklers might be an alternative fire suppression system, such as a high pressure water mist system.


Consideration of installation of sprinklers for life safety purposes can bring the following benefits:


 Limiting the size of the fire by limiting growth

 Controlling fire spread

 Providing extra time for persons to evacuate the building safely

 Limiting the amount of damage caused by the fire and smoke

 Through allowing a greater chance of business continuity


Controlling a fire at an early stage, as a sprinkler system does, allows more time for evacuation from the building or from an adjoining area to a place of temporary safety. An extended evacuation time can be helpful where staff numbers are limited or where additional staff assistance is required from another area.


The controlling and subduing of a fire by a sprinkler system means that the fire is less likely to spread from one area of compartmentation to the next, which can reduce the necessity of onward phases of evacuation. High dependency patients adjacent to the compartment of fire origin may therefore only need to be moved once and continuity of care is much easier to maintain.


In healthcare premises who provide services only to independent patients, sprinkler system installations can support the use of smoke-retarding construction as an alternative to 30 minutes’ fire-resistant construction. This fire safety solution should only be put into practice if it is fully supported by fire engineering evidence which can demonstrate an equivalent level of safety to that of a standard HTM-compliant design solution.


Part 45 of this series will continue from this point with AFD zoning arrangements. 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 Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.


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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