Currently, in times of COVID-19 Coronavirus, the healthcare sector has maybe become the most vulnerable industry as it places the health systems of many countries to the test. The last thing hospitals want to be worried about now is their fire detection system. In the event of a fire alarm, some patients will need assistance to evacuate.
For those in critical conditions or being in isolation due to a COVID-19 infection, evacuation can be extremely challenging or even impossible because of the use of lung ventilators and the risk that isolated people mean to others. The occurrence of a false alarm is detrimental to the operation of any healthcare facility. Such instances lead to disruption of service and impact upon patient care.
acute healthcare premises
They can also lead to unnecessary risk to those required to respond to the alarm raised, and in some cases increased costs. Given the severe impact false alarms can have on healthcare premises, it is crucial to minimize their occurrence. Research into alarms at acute healthcare premises show that cooking is by far the first cause of false alarms, followed by contractor activities, electrical faults, steam, illicit smoking, call point activation, and dust.
False alarms from cooking are predominantly exhibited in residences and ward areas, while false alarms generated by contractor activities are reported across all hospital areas with no significant variation between the different areas protected. Effort needs to start from the design stage and throughout the system lifecycle. One efficient way to reduce false alarms is to use multi-sensor detectors which include a smoke, heat and Carbon Monoxide sensor elements.
the use of multi-sensor detectors is ideal to increase the flexibility of the building over time
These can be configured to provide a more sensitive or more resilient detection mode, the latter being able to diminish false alarms in some of the most difficult applications. The possibility to set different detection modes and sensitivity levels for day and night enables to reduce false alarms without decreasing the protection level of the premises. Furthermore, the use of multi-sensor detectors is ideal to increase the flexibility of the building over time.
In case of change of occupancy and/or activity in a room or area, the method of fire detection within that room should be reviewed and if the room is protected by a multi-sensor detector a simple software configuration change will solve the problem without the need of any physical change to the system. Fire detection and alarm systems in healthcare premises are primarily intended to protect life, but they also have a role in protecting property.
fire safety strategy
Early warning of fire can also be of benefit in minimizing disruption to the functioning of premises and in ensuring prompt resumption of service. Lastly, in planning a fire alarm system, it is important to establish the design and operational requirements for the system at an early stage. These must take into account the overall fire safety strategy and its specific evacuation procedures.
The specifier/designer of the system should therefore consult all those concerned with the design and operation of the system.