Fire detection systems for hospitals August 2018, Healthcare (Industry), Fire & Safety
By Charles Thiong’o, FDIA.
There are special considerations to be taken note of when designing or installing a fire detection system for a hospital. SANS 322 gives guidance on the design and installation of fire detection systems for hospitals and it must be read in conjunction with SANS 10139. Below are important points to note, taken from the document, which applies to new installations or when doing an upgrade to an existing system.
Choice of an addressable or conventional fire detection system will be determined by the number of detectors to be installed. Up to and including 50 detectors can be conventional, but with over 50 detectors the system will be addressable. The same type of system and brand will be used throughout the hospital except for isolated buildings requiring no more than 50 devices or isolated buildings requiring more devices, but functioning separately from the hospital.
Smoke detectors and manual call points will be installed throughout the hospital with some exceptions.
Audible alarms will be provided in all areas except in special areas like an operating theatre. The sound pressure level for the alarms swill be between 45 db to 55 db or 5 db above notional level – this is noise level that is exceeded by 10% of the noisiest period in a specific area. Alarms in non-patient areas will comply with SANS 10139.
In non-patient access areas, manual call points will be sited in accordance with SANS 10139, for patient areas manual call points will be close to each nurses’ station, at each exit or stairway, but not on stairway landing and on both sides of main doorways between detection zones in close proximity to the doors. The siting of manual call points in a mental hospital will be different due to the high possibility of patients interfering with them. Manual call points need not be readily accessible to patients, however, the call points will be easily and quickly accessible to staff.
Fire detection systems will be provided with facilities to disable fire detectors without isolating manual call points. Maximum area where smoke detectors need to be disabled simultaneously will not exceed one of the fire detection zones into which a building is sub-divided. A facility to disable sounders will also be provided to minimise disruption during maintenance.
It is important to refer to SANS 322 when carrying out any fire detection system installation within a hospital as it stipulates other important details that we may have not mentioned here.
We continue to encourage all end users and consultants to only use FDIA registered contractors as they have the commitment, capability and mandate to ensure that not only is your fire detection system installed correctly but it is serviced and maintained as per the required standards and regulations.
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