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.

Netcare Milpark Hospital mainChoice of an addressable or conventional fire detection system shall be determined by the number of detectors to be installed. Up to and including 50 detectors can be conventional but over 50 detectors the system shall be addressable.

The same type of system and brand shall 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 shall be installed throughout the hospital with the following exceptions: 1). bath/shower rooms 2). toilets in staff areas. 3). cupboards less than 1m2.

Detectors shall only be omitted from other areas based on an assessment of fire risk. However, the following areas shall be protected. 1). all patient access areas. 2). fire hazard rooms and areas. 3). rooms or departments below patient access areas from which fire can spread vertically to affect patient access areas 4). stairways, lobbies and corridors used as means of escape when not in frequent use 5). patient hotels 6). commercial enterprise 7). Atria 8). mechanical and electrical services plant rooms (other than water tank rooms) 9). toilets intended for use by the public. This is likely to be ignored by designers and installers as SANS 10139 requires no detection in toilets but for hospitals it is a requirement that must be complied with.

Audible alarms shall be provided in all areas except in special areas like an operating theatre. The sound pressure level for the alarms shall be between 45 db to 55 db or 5 db above notional level – this is noise level that is exceeded for 10 % of the noisiest period in a specific area. Alarms in non-patient areas shall comply with SANS 10139.

In non-patient access areas, manual call points shall be sited in accordance with SANS 10139, for patient areas manual call points shall 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 shall be easily and quickly accessible to staff.

Fire detection systems shall be provided with facilities to disable fire detectors without isolating manual call points. Maximum area where smoke detectors need to be disabled simultaneously shall not exceed one of the fire detection zones into which a building is sub-divided. A facility to disable sounders shall also be provided to minimize 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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