Hospitals and sprinkler systems


Sir, – Further to “Children’s hospital board appeals requirement for sprinkler system” (News, October 22nd), hospitals have the most rigorous form of building fire safety, normally in the form of what is referred to as “progressive and horizontal evacuation”.

This is an international position with regard to buildings of this nature. This is because, in the event of a fire, it is not always appropriate to evacuate very sick people out of the building into any sort of weather.

Nor is it appropriate to have patients drenched, (whether in bed in a ward or on the operating table), under a sprinkler system just because someone had a sneaky cigarette or a toaster goes on fire.

The fire compartments that separate each area, never mind areas or rooms considered hazardous, are usually of at least one-hour fire resistance as a minimum, are in turn able to escape to safe zones also of a minimum of one-hour fire resistance, within strictly coded, certified, standardised distances. Hospital building management systems also know immediately exactly where a fire is taking place and can address the problem locally and very quickly without mass evacuation or sprinklers activated.

Evidence of the precedence for the requirement for sprinklers in operating theatre areas, in one of the most safe public building types, needs to be explained in detail to us all in his instance to substantiate any further cost to the project. – Yours, etc,



Lecturer in Building


School of Architecture,

Dublin Institute

of Technology, Dublin 1.