Evacuating the vulnerable
Best practice evacuation on all levels is ‘progressively horizontal’ which means moving people — in their beds or wheelchairs along with essential medical equipment — away from the origin of the fire along the length of the building rather than downstairs which may be impossible, says Amaya.
This means prioritising horizontal movement from one vertical fire compartment to another. Large fire protected areas are required to receive and keep patients coming from another fire compartment safe during the evacuation and intervention of fire fighters.
Specific areas where the life of a patient depends on ongoing surgery (such as operating theatres) or support systems (such as breathing equipment in intensive care) cannot be evacuated. These units must be capable of withstanding fire for a significant period of time.
Fire-rated walls and doors, fire resistant ventilation systems and an independent and autonomous electricity supply are basic features that need to follow the highly functional requirements of such areas such as circulation paths, double accesses and detailed plans of ventilation and air conditioning networks.
Importance of fire drills
“Operationally, it is vital that corridors and doors are kept clear and active systems for fire protection such as alarms or extinguisher systems should be regularly maintained,” says Amaya.