The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Structural Fire Protection Provision – Part 15

March 29, 2018 2:45 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals to give advice and information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 14, we looked at the design and construction of the building and the requirements in terms of fire safety. In part 15, we look specifically at those floors which are up to 12 metres above ground level.


In each floor of a healthcare building which is up to 12 metres above ground level, but has a floor area of less than 1000 m2 and which contains patient-access areas, there should be no more than 30 patients. It should also be divided into a minimum of two compartments per floor. The inclusion of at least two fire-resistant compartments per floor allows for immediate horizontal evacuation should a fire begin in one of the compartments.


Where a compartment contains beds for patients to sleep in, there should be no more than 20 beds per compartment.


On all floors above ground floor level where sprinklers are installed, the fire resistance level of the compartment walls may be reduced to 30 minutes. A correctly operational sprinkler system will certainly slow the growth of a fire and may extinguish it, depending upon the type of fire and its situation within the compartment.


On a floor which is up to 12 metres above ground level but has a floor area which exceeds 1000 m2, and which contains patient-access areas, it should be divided into a minimum of three compartments. One of these compartments may be a hospital street. As with floor areas less than 1000 m2, the inclusion of a fully operational sprinkler system allows for the fire-resistant construction duration to be reduced to 30 minutes.


Where floors are more than 12 metres above ground floor level and contain patient-access areas, a minimum of four compartments per floor should be designed and in instances where no hospital street is provided, each compartment should have a minimum floor area of 500 m2. Where there is a hospital street, that compartment may be less than 500 m2. Floors meeting these criteria which have an operational sprinkler system may have reduced compartment sizes of no less than 350 m2.


The purpose of such designs is to allow the movement of all occupants and associated life support systems from the compartment of fire origin into the next compartment, while still accommodating the original occupants of that area.


In part 16, LWF will look at exits from compartments. 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.


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