The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Structural Fire Protection Provision – Part 17

April 11, 2018 1:15 pm

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 16, the issue of the number and placement of compartment exits was discussed. In part 17, we will talk about escape routes which include flat roofs and compartment/departmental relationships.


It is a viable option to have an escape route which includes a flat roof, as long as it is not the only escape route from that part of the building and it will be used by staff only.  In addition, the roof must be a part of the same building from which escape is sought and the roof route must lead to an exit from the storey or to an external escape route. It would not, for instance, be sufficient for it to lead back into the other side of the same storey of the same building.


With regards to the route over the flat roof itself and any opening within 3 m of the escape route, it should be constructed of materials which are fire-resistant to a minimum of 30 minutes. In cases where the roof is not used solely as an escape route but is also used as a floor, that period should be extended, as per regulations.


The route should be clearly defined and the path must be guarded by walls or railings which meet the provisions in Approved Document K, the Building regulation in England covering the buildings users protection from falling, collision and impact in and around the building.


While compartmentation is built into a structure in order to provide structural fire protection for the occupancy, it is advisable to consider how the compartments will function when the building is in use.


Practicalities such as fire drills, day-to-day fire safety management, evacuation procedures etc., can all be managed more easily if the design of compartments takes into account operational arrangements and allows the boundaries of compartments to signify departmental boundaries too.


In part 18 of this series, LWF will look at the size of compartments within a building, specifically, how a compartment can be a certain size in terms of legality and fire safety but would be too large if it were to contain patient-access areas. 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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