The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Structural Fire Protection Provision – Part 18

April 16, 2018 10:28 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 17, the potential for an escape route for staff only which incorporates a flat roof was discussed. In part 18, we talk about sub-compartmentation and the reasons it can be found in healthcare venues.


As mentioned earlier in this blog series, compartmentation is the division of area by fire-protected walls, floors etc. in order to limit the spread of smoke and fire from one compartment to the next.


Sub-compartmentation is necessary because although some compartment sizes allowed under HTM 05-02 are permitted in terms of fire containment on a general basis, such large compartments are unsuitable where patient-access areas are involved. The reason for this is that many patients could be accommodated in a compartment and if a fire were to develop, all could be severely affected by smoke and toxic gas inhalation and the spread of fire itself.


For the well-being of the patients, it is therefore important that the areas are divided into sub-compartments to limit those who may be affected.


In addition, if a fire develops in a compartment or sub-compartment, staff assisted evacuation will be required into the next compartment or sub-compartment, which would be an immense task if the compartment occupant capacity was too great.


The criteria for sub-compartmentation of a compartment is comprised of three parts – where the floor area is greater than 750 m2, or where a compartment contains a department where 30 or more patients will have access simultaneously, or where sleeping accommodation is provided for more than 30 patients.


In the case of hospital outpatient departments, the overall compartment floor area may be increased to 1000 m2 before sub-compartmentation is necessary. It is likely that those patients attending an out-patient department will have more mobility and sleeping accommodation will not be provided.


Sub-compartment walls should be fire resistant to a minimum of 30 minutes and should terminate at the underside of a compartment floor or roof to ensure there are no gaps through which fire can spread or smoke can pass.


Each sub-compartment should have a minimum of two exits to adjoining but separate compartments or sub-compartments to ensure escape is possible if a fire were to start blocking one exit and that the occupants can be moved to a compartment with a full 30 minutes of fire resistance from the compartment of fire origin.


In part 19, travel distances will be discussed. 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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