The Critical Role of Fire Protection in Healthcare Facilities

Advanced's Sales Manager for Europe, Vladimir Zrnic, investigates some of the key fire protection challenges that present themselves in healthcare facilities.

 

When it comes to fire protection, healthcare facilities pose numerous risks. These include the presence of countless fire hazards, difficulties in effectively maintaining fire protection across large and complex sites, as well as a high density of people – many of whom are vulnerable. As ever, the standard of fire safety is determined by the quality and effective implementation of physical fire protection.

The fire alarm control panel is central to achieving high standards of protection. Choosing a panel that can meet the day-to-day challenges encountered by hospitals, clinics, care homes and their staff is critical.

 

Healthcare Facilities Shutterstock 484X323

 

Immediate and Uninterrupted Notification of Alarm

Hospitals are complex, often combining old and new buildings, and comprising many different departments with different fire protection needs – from A&E and critical care units, to operating theatres and wards..

In these settings, networked fire systems deliver the greatest benefits. They can be programmed to fulfil many roles, from controlling evacuation procedures, reducing false alarms and integrating with third-party systems, to controlling the release of suppressants, operating smoke control and linking to graphical control and building management systems (BMS). To do all of this effectively requires quick and reliable to communication between panels across vast networks, with miles of cabling.

Axis EN and MxPro 5 from global fire systems manufacturer Advanced, offer some of the industry’s most comprehensive networking capabilities. Their networks can be configured to allow the inter-connection of up to 200 panels (nodes) in a fault-tolerant configuration, relaying fire alarm signals across a complete 200 panel system in just 3.5 seconds. Their EN54-13 approval gives peace of mind that the system will provide reliable fire protection even across the largest networks.

 

Sensitive Notification

Nurse workstations

In a fire scenario, staff responsible for high-dependency patients, such as those in intensive care units, need to be able to monitor the situation as it evolves, without causing panic and distress for those in their care. For this reason, sounders and speakers aren’t always required, and instead, fire system repeater panels can be used.

Repeater panels, located in strategic locations, such as nurse workstations, provide early notification of any fire events as well as system monitoring. Discreet, early notification and status information afford staff time to prepare and make educated decisions on when it’s best to remain in place or evacuate.

TouchControl, from Advanced, is a high-resolution 10-inch touchscreen that allows monitoring and control via interactive site maps and zone plans. Ideal for use in public areas such as wards and hospital wings thanks to its low-profile design, the panel complements a wide range of interiors and has the added benefit of being able to display notices and presentations when in standby mode.

 

Flashing Beacons and Strobes

In cases where an audible alarm may cause issues, flashing beacons or strobes provide another valuable way of discreetly notifying healthcare staff of a fire situation. These visual warning devices are intended for use as part of the fire alarm system, but it is important to check they have been independently certified to meet the requirements of the EN 54-23 standard.

 

False Alarm Management

False and unwanted fire alarms are one of the biggest issues in fire safety and building management today. They not only leave occupants confused and troubled but can also lead to complacency and a failure to take proper action if/when a real fire occurs.

AlarmCalm false alarm management is available as standard on Advanced’s Axis EN and MxPro 5 solutions and delivers unprecedented control of verification and investigation delays. By dividing sites up into virtual false alarm ‘building areas’ independent of fire zones, users gain more precise control of false alarm management (FAM) and reduction strategies, that exactly fit the needs of each part of a building.

To highlight some of the solutions to the challenges faced specifically within care homes, Advanced has published AlarmCalm – Complete False Alarm Management for Care Homes.

 

Axis EN Panel Family 484X363 

 

Integration with Third-Party Systems

Against a backdrop of pressure to drive down costs amongst healthcare operators, integrating the fire system with building management systems, smoke control, sprinkler and HVAC systems offers many advantages. These include greater efficiency, lower operating costs, and a more secure and responsive building environment.

Advanced’s BMS interface allows any Axis EN or MxPro 5 system to communicate via serial connection with independent third-party BMS as well as PC-based graphical control systems. This allows safer and mor efficient overall building management and control.

Clearly, the fire protection requirements for healthcare premises are wide-ranging. They require meticulous planning and customisation to accommodate an array of building uses, staff and patient needs. Advanced continues to gather feedback from its many healthcare customers and innovates accordingly to help simplify the complex task of keeping healthcare premises compliant and their occupants safe from fire.

 

For more information visit: www.advancedco.com

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