The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Unwanted Fire Signals – Part 136

July 13, 2020 12:51 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, our aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 135, LWF discussed automatic fire detectors and how they should be positioned. In part 136, we will talk about unwanted fire signals in healthcare environments.

Unwanted Fire Signals (UwFS) cause the Fire Service to be summoned needlessly, and healthcare venues, particularly hospitals, are a major source. This is not to say that there is any element of blame inferred. The NHS is one of the largest users of automatic fire detection systems in the UK and there are very many large systems in healthcare premises.

Where there are automatic fire detection systems in larger buildings, a greater number of detectors is used and therefore, a proportionally larger amount of UwFS are experienced.

Another contributory factor is that hospitals are open and occupied 24-hours a day, whereas most other large buildings with comparable fire detection systems are only occupied for half or a third of that time.

The fire procedures in healthcare buildings must be strictly adhered to and this can also contribute to the Fire Service being made aware of an above-average proportion of UwFS.

The upheaval of UwFS does not only impact the Fire Service. In any building, UwFS can disrupt and cause a loss of confidence in the fire alarm system. In a healthcare environment, the disruption can prove detrimental to patient care.

It is essential that immediate and appropriate response is made when the fire alarm gives an alert in a hospital or other healthcare building to ensure the safety of patients, staff and other building occupants. A loss of confidence in the fire alarm system could lead to a lowering of the standard of fire safety and that cannot be permitted. For this reason, it is imperative that the installation design be efficient and avoid UwFS, as far as is practicable.

The avoidance of UwFS should never take precedence over the importance of early detection and warning of fire.

UwFS should be classified and reported with the aim of reducing UwFS. Details of how this should be approached are found in HTM 05-03 Part H.

In Part 137, LWF will begin to discuss audible and visual alarms in healthcare environments. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

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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