Hospitals or other healthcare and critical facilities such as nursing homes are important buildings in the community. Thus, it’s essential to make sure it’s rightfully protected and secure from any type of damage or catastrophe. Due to it’s large and complex construction type, the installation of fire alarm systems for healthcare facilities may pose a challenge.
Aside from the sheer size of this type of establishment, hospitals are usually made up of numerous buildings spread over a massive area. On top of that, most of the occupants of hospitals are not capable of moving or walking on their own. Also, multiple activities go on every single day that can’t be interrupted – even if there's a fire emergency or terror threats.
Because of this, it’s essential to have fire alarm systems that are efficient and effective in detecting issues and responding appropriately to fire emergencies.
According to the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code:
“All healthcare facilities shall be designed, constructed, maintained, and operated to minimize the possibility of a fire emergency requiring the evacuation of occupants. Because the safety of healthcare occupants cannot be ensured adequately by dependence on the evacuation of the building, their protection from fire must be provided by appropriate arrangement of facilities, adequate staffing, and development of operating and maintenance procedures."NFPA 101 Life Safety Code
In today’s post, let’s take a look at the important considerations in fire alarm systems installation and fire protection for healthcare facilities.
Fire Alarm Systems in Hospitals: Important Considerations
Proper zoning of fire alarm systems in any healthcare establishment is vital. It helps determine where in the building, a potential fire emergency is taking place. It also aids the fire department in locating the origin of the fire.
When it comes to the zoning of fire alarm systems in hospitals and patient-care facilities, the best approach is to integrate the fire alarm zones with the smoke compartments. NFPA 99 dictates that all fire alarm zones and smoke zones must be coordinated. These smoke compartments are designed in patient-care occupancies to build provisional refuge areas for patients or residents.
For fire sprinkler systems in hospitals, the zoning must also match the predetermined fire alarm zones and smoke compartments. According to NFPA 101, fire alarm zones must also coordinate with sprinkler zones.
Work with a fire alarm systems provider experienced in designing and installing fire protection systems for the healthcare industry to make sure you are in compliance with the NFPA codes for healthcare facilities.
Alerts and Notification
Fire alarm system notifications devices have improved over the years. Older systems only used chimes or electronic bells. And older hospital buildings had coded signals to distinguish the zone where the alarm was triggered.
Modern fire alarm systems in hospitals, on the other hand, come with powerful speaker units that can both provide essential emergency communications and live messaging functions.
This feature is also especially useful in conjunction with coded notifications like “Code Red, 4th Floor, South Wing.” Coded messages like this alert the hospital staff without causing panic and disorder.
Fire alarm systems with speakers are also highly used in sending out mass notifications. A mass notification system can broadcast live and automated messages for inclement weather announcements, terrorist threats, or other incidents where you need to communicate with all the occupants of a building.
Corridors and Hallways
A mandate has been issued that requires healthcare facilities to install automatic sprinkler systems and smoke detectors in every corridor of the building. Additionally, smoke detectors are necessary for spaces leading to passages such as waiting areas, stretcher storage areas, and charting nooks.
According to NFPA 101, nursing homes must have full smoke detection devices in corridors and other areas leading up to corridors.
In addition to that, smoke detection units may be installed in sleeping rooms of nursing homes.
Hospital Fire Alarm Systems: Proper Training and Procedures
Fire alarm systems and fire protection devices are required to operate efficiently – even more so in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Even the best systems are of little advantage without proper training and procedures from hospital staff.
NFPA 101 dictates emergency planning, training requirements, and fire drill are required in every establishment. Hospitals and healthcare management must determine how best to execute proper training and procedures when it comes to fire protection.