The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Travel Distances – Part 19

April 26, 2018 11:19 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 18, we talked about sub-compartmentation and the reasons it can be found in healthcare venues. In part 19, we discuss travel distances and how they affect escape from fire.


Travel distance is the distance which must be travelled to get from the area of fire origin to a place of safety. This could be the distance to an adjacent compartment, sub-compartment, hospital street, stairways or final exit. Limiting the distance that must be travelled means that occupants can escape the dangerous area more quickly.


The maximum single direction travel distances are stipulated in HTM 05-02, as follows:


 15 metres for in-patient accommodation before there is a choice of escape routes


 18 metres for all other parts of healthcare buildings, except for those below.


 Plant rooms have specific conditions, as per points 3.85 – 3.87, which reads, as follows:


3.85 Where only one exit is provided, the maximum travel distance should not exceed 12 m.


3.86 Where only one exit is provided, or where there is a danger of people being trapped,


alternative means of escape such as ceiling hatches and fixed ladders should be provided.


3.87 Where the plant room can be shown to be of very low risk (for example only containing air-handling plant), the distances above may be extended to 25 m and 35m respectively


While there may be some exceptions to the above rules, in cases where the distances must be exceeded, they must be suitably justified in the fire strategy.


In cases where an enclosed escape route in a single direction of escape exceeds 4.5 m, all surrounding construction must be 30 minutes fire resistant (both integrity and insulation). Travel within a room is not subject to this requirement, as it is intended for use in stub corridors or small corridor recesses.


In addition, glazing must be 30 minutes fire resistant (both integrity and insulation) in circulation spaces with a single direction of escape. Where a sprinkler system is in use in the area, insulation is not required, provided that the glass is not classed as ‘modified toughened’. Sprinkler activity cools the glazing and provides extended fire resistance.


Escape from an inner room through an access room is allowed if the access room is not a fire hazard room. Some examples of fire hazard rooms might include chemical stores, cleaners’ rooms, clothes storage, laboratories or disposal rooms.


In part 20 of this series, LWF will look at total travel distance from any point to a place of safety. 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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