Firecode: what’s new, and what do I need to do?

Maz Daoud, head of Fire Safety, NHS Estates, at NHS England, who chairs IHEEM’s Fire Safety Technical Platform, discusses recent revisions to HTM 05-03, and the implications for fire safety policies and procedures across the NHS estate. Here he focuses particularly on Part B, which looks at fire detection and fire alarm systems, including the reduction of false alarm and unwanted fire signals.

Ensuring fire safety in all healthcare premises is of the utmost importance. The amount of medical equipment and gases, the size and complexity of the buildings, and the vulnerability of our patients, means that it is a complex task. Following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London in 2017, the Government initiated the Independent review of building regulations and fire safety,1 chaired by Dame Judith Hackitt. This looked primarily at safety in high-rise residential buildings, but some of the recommendations are applicable to healthcare buildings too. Dame Hackitt's recommendations have resulted in primary legislation in the Building Safety Act 2022 (the Act), and a large amount of secondary legislation, including the Higher-Risk Buildings (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2023.

NHS England — in its role of 'leading the NHS to deliver high-quality services for all', is responsible for producing technical guidance and setting standards. An extensive scoping exercise in 2022 identified three key areas in the HTM 05 series of Firecode,2 which have now being revised and issued, as follows:

This article is the first part of a series looking at different aspects of these three documents. It will discuss management and maintenance of fire alarm systems, as well as false alarms and unwanted fire signals, as outlined in HTM 05-03 Part B. These are just some of the subjects covered in this revised HTM, and the whole document should be thoroughly read, understood, and applied.

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