The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Structural Fire Protection Provision – Part 14

March 20, 2018 11:56 am

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give advice and information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 13 of this series, the emergency plan was looked at from the viewpoint of ensuring that there were sufficient numbers of trained staff to execute an evacuation if necessary. In part 14, LWF takes a look at the design and construction of the building and the requirements in terms of fire safety.


Part B of Schedule 1 of The Building Regulations 2010 provides guidance which states ‘The building shall be designed and constructed so that there are appropriate provisions for early warning of fire, and appropriate means of escape in case of fire from the building to a place of safety outside the building capable of being safely and effectively used at material times’.


The necessity to detect and give warning of a fire at the earliest opportunity is of paramount importance when considering the design of a building and its construction. Early warning of fire ensures that procedures to safely evacuate any affected personnel and patients can be put into action promptly and in addition, the emergency services can be notified.


Fire detection is most commonly achieved at an early stage by the use of automatic detection and fire alarm systems, however, staff vigilance is also most valuable and should be encouraged.


The necessity for and terms of an adequately designed fire alarm system is laid out in the following documents, along with technical guidance on specification, installation, commissioning, testing, operation and maintenance.


Health Technical Memorandum 05-03

BS 5839-1

BS EN 54


As quoted from The Building Regulations 2010, above, the main principle of means of escape is that the building should be designed in such a way that it is possible for all affected persons to be safely evacuated from the building to an outside place of safety or in an area of safety which leads to the outside.


A range of factors enter into making safe egress from a building with a fire possible, the first being the instigation of a system of progressive horizontal evacuation.


In a fire situation, each compartment should be capable of housing its normal occupancy plus the occupancy of the most highly occupied adjoining compartment. In a hospital environment, this provision must include the necessity for beds and medical equipment to ensure continued care.


In part 15 of this series, LWF will continue looking into those elements which make safe evacuation possible, starting with floors up to 12m above ground level with an area of less than 1000m2. 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.


Share this post