Nothing but advantages so far and yet hospital architects still often use the old standards. That is understandable, as permits for renovation and new development are granted for plans that meet the old legislation. However, De Groot and Schoppers believe that hospital architects and their project teams should follow the smoke-permeability standards. They do have one important comment, though: the above floorplan may clarify the standards at a single glance, but it also limits the options.
Schoppers: "When an architect presents his design and plan to us, we provide a logistical door plan that gives advice per passage - based on the wishes and the upcoming legislation and regulations - about the various options. We feel that those that meet the more stringent legislation, also meet the old legislation in terms of safety, if properly calculated and reasoned. Ideally, the architect and client subsequently consult with their fire safety expert. That is always our recommendation. We know everything about our doors, the spaces of our clients and the requirements. And naturally, we closely follow developments in legislation and regulations. But we cannot take over the position of a fire safety specialist; he has the know-how to oversee an entire project in terms of fire safety."
De Groot adds: "In case of fire and smoke resistance, you should never approach one structural element, such as a door, as a stand-alone part. We should not take the legislation and regulations as starting point, but as minimal legal lower limit. Instead, we should inventory and analyse the risks and based on that make a fire safety concept that answers the preset fire safety goals. In doing so, we look at the design as a whole, the use of spaces, at the people in specific situations in these spaces, escape routes, the potential speed of smoke dispersion and the role of the doors in that design et cetera. In doing so, the size of the smoke compartments must be in line with the available evacuation capacity of the internal emergency response organisation. You can have the best smoke-resistant partitions in the world, but if the evacuation area behind it is larger than what the emergency response organisation can handle, the smoke will still cause victims. When looking at the design from this perspective, i.e. with an eye for safety, you will eventually always easily meet the standard in my experience."
Should you immediately fear for your budget when reading these words: a fire safety concept also includes a feasibility study that evaluates the desired measures to get a good idea of the safety level, matching the use of the spaces and fitting the budget. A fire safety concept ensures that you will have a maximally effective fire safety plan, at the most attractive investment.