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External Fire Exit Stairs


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I work in a hospital where it is high risk that members of the public may try to enter the external staircases from the ground level.

What security measures can I put in place to secure these stair cases? without breaking fire regs? 

I been thinking about spring loaded gates? or cooper bolt type gates? to be installed at the final exit of the stair case

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If this is an NHS Property, there are a suite of HTM - Health Technical Memorandum documents known as Firecode. These are feely available on the web and should be available from the sites seats Dept. You should have regard to the contents of the relevant HTM when devising escape strategies

If this is not an NHS premises, 'complying' with Firecode should lead to legal compliance 

  • Final exit doors can be locked with electro-magnetic door locks. They should release automatically when the fire alarm is activated, but in certain circumstances , this is not required (Mental Health , kids and elderly care. A green break glass door override must be provided in any of the examples
  • Simple push bar 'panic bolts' cannot be opened from outside, but those inside can let others in. 
  • I would not go down the Redlam Bolt (or any frangible door mechanism other than the green box override as listed earlier). These bolts are not advised when the public may need to operate them, or when large groups of evacuees could be expected. I had a disagreement with a posh Hotel in London's West End who had Redlam Bolts to stop smoking guests using an external fire escape. I won the argument by demonstrating walking over broken tube in bare feet is not comfortable! This is surely likely in a Hospital

Finally -and please do not take this personally - I would tread carefully if you are advising or making changes to a hospital means of escape or any fire safety matter, unless you are competent (as defined by law). Hospitals house perhaps the most vulnerable persons in society, and measures to ensure their safety are tight. If you make a mistake, you will be subject to scrutiny and perhaps up before a coroner or judge So if you have any doubts about your skills level, you really do need to seek advice.

As an example, I carried out fire safety work in a large new hospital building which subsequently burnt to the ground during a major arson incident. I subsequently proved my competence and further more, I had evidence that significant written advice I had given in relation to fire service access was not acted upon. The lack of access was a factor in the loss. It was a very stressful time for me I can tell you, but I - and my work - was vindicated. So do take care

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