We announced recently that we were working on a healthcare project in Wales.
It’s one of the largest NHS projects ever seen in Wales, and will admit its first patients in early 2021.
Recent International projects have included the supply of advanced systems to healthcare facilities in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.
It’s worth remembering that fires in hospitals do happen. In September, one person died and dozens were injured in a hospital fire in Dusseldorf, Germany.
In the same month, ten died in a hospital fire in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The month before, another person died in a hospital fire in Paris, France.
The size and complexity of modern hospitals mean that the risk of fire cannot be entirely avoided. What’s important is that it is detected quickly, contained and then dealt with.
The history of fire safety in hospitals has been about “codifying by catastrophe.” In other words, only improving regulation once a fatal fire has taken place.
The most significant fire, in terms of regulation, was the St Anthony’s Hospital disaster in Illinois, USA in 1949. That fire killed over 70 people, including 11 newborn babies.
From that disaster came regulations on flame-retardant materials and effective barriers to contain fires at source. That recognised that containment should be an integral part in minimising fire risk.
Fire regulations were again tightened following a 1961 hospital fire in Hartford, Connecticut in which 16 people died. It was caused by a discarded cigarette being dropped down a trash chute. Among other changes to regulation were new rules on smoking on healthcare premises.
Those two fires, among others, had a profound influence on fire regulations worldwide.
Most fires start with the smallest of incidents – often an electrical short-circuit. But if fire does break out, it needs to be suppressed – usually with a sprinkler system – and then contained.
That’s where our specialist glazing systems have an important role to play. They can contain the fire for up to 120 minutes: long enough for a safe evacuation and for an emergency response.
At Wrightstyle, we have long international experience in designing steel systems to mitigate against fire and other security risks. For example, for a healthcare project in Hong Kong, in a typhoon area, the design specifically required high wind-loading resistance. Our advanced systems can, of course, provide that.
In a hospital environment, ambient light also has an important influence on staff morale and patient recovery. Our glazing systems therefore have both a functional and aesthetic purpose. They can help in the recovery process and, if fire breaks out, ensure that it is contained at source.
Main picture: King Faisal Hospital, Riyadh, to which we supplied advanced systems.