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What Happens If There's A Fire In A Hospital

22nd Jun 2017

Hospital Fire Drill | Red Box Fire Control


There's nothing scarier than a fire, especially when it's in a place where you're supposed to be safe. If a fire breaks out in a hospital, what happens?

Hospitals have special procedures in place for fires, and it's important to know what they are so that you can stay safe in this frightful scenario. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the steps hospitals take to prevent and handle fires, as well as what you should do if present..

Significant numbers of people are vulnerable should a fire break out in a hospital. These can be patients that may not be able to move by themselves or people for whom smoke inhalation is a greater health risk than usual.

A hospital can prove a relatively hazardous environment. These buildings are filled with large amounts of mobile and electrical equipment, among them sources of oxygen and other compressed gases and chemicals. This creates a dangerous setting for evacuation of personnel and fire suppression.

What Happens If There's A Fire In A Hospital?

So how is a situation handled if a fire breaks out inside a hospital?

One of the most important parts of handling a hospital fire is communication

One of the most important parts of handling a hospital fire is communication, both before a fire breaks out and during the event.

Before a fire occurs, staff are fully trained on how to handle the situation, through multiple days of training for every eventuality.

Secondly, staff are always aware of where patients are and their condition.

Finally, the nature of the fire alarm is clearly communicated to staff either before or during the alarm, be it a test, drill, or genuine fire. This allows staff to react at the correct level. For example, it would be inappropriate to attempt to evacuate an unstable patient for a simple fire alarm test.

Alarms are ‘coded’ to indicate the vicinity of the fire and this helps communicate its nature to staff.

Areas close to the fire will have a different alarm sound when compared to areas in a different part of the building. For example, the zone that contains the fire will have a continuous alarm, indicating that staff should react accordingly.

Adjacent zones (horizontally and vertically), will sound an intermittent alarm, indicating that staff should be alert and prepare for an impending evacuation (this can also be for the whole hospital, depending on its size).

What Happens If There's A Fire In A Hospital?This is where zoning or ‘compartmentation’ comes into play. If you’re not familiar with compartmentation, you can our dedicated blog here.

Hospitals and most other buildings are divided into ‘compartments’ which can withstand a fire for a specific amount of time, either inside or outside the compartment.

This ‘fire barrier’ gives a chance for occupants to be evacuated and for emergency services to arrive and extinguish the fire. Sometimes the fire can even extinguish on its own.

Due to compartmentation, a hospital will employ a ‘horizontal phased evacuation’. Those able to be evacuated from the building (in relevant zones) without assistance will be evacuated immediately.

In a compartment that has a fire, patients who cannot be moved far are moved to an adjacent compartment. This allows patients to be moved only a short distance, if necessary, drastically reducing the dangers of being away from life support machinery during an emergency.

When the emergency services arrive, they will assess the situation and establish the scale of the evacuation that is necessary, if at all. Should delicate patients need evacuation due to the scale of the fire, this can be facilitated with the help of the now present fire services.

Rest assured; hospitals are well prepared in the event of a fire. How prepared is your business?

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Red Box Fire Control is proud to celebrate over 35 years in the fire safety industry.

Over this time we've grown in knowledge and expertise, focussing on supporting businesses with their compliance in a friendly yet efficient manner.

We are confident that we're able to provide our customers with a high level of professionalism and industry insight. Add to this our commitment to integrity, and when it comes to fire safety you can expect peace of mind unmatched by other suppliers.

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