LIFT Schemes Get Healthy Fire Strategy From FDS Consult UK

For a state of the art health centre, the first facility of its kind to feature a birthing pool centre, architects required a fire strategy that would take into account the complex use of the building.


Leading fire engineering consultancy FDS Consult UK offered the solution. Designed by architects Hunter & Partners for Tower Hamlets PCT (Primary Care Trust), Barkantine Health and Wellbeing Centre is part of the NHS’s LIFT (Local Initiative Finance Trust) initiative.

A cutting edge primary healthcare centre, Barkantine has been designed with multiple uses in mind. This includes the provision of GP facilities, transitional primary care, birthing, dental and community services, a pharmacy and café.

FDS Consult UK was required to create a fire strategy that took into consideration the complex nature of the building and the significant policies and fire standards required for health facilities. The strategy also had to take into account the buildings open plan double-height atrium.

The company developed a fire strategy which included justifying optimised compartments to take into consideration the atrium’s design to maintain the architects vision of a free flowing space. The strategy, in line with FDS Consult UK’s policy of value engineering to deliver costs savings, recommended the removal of HTM guidance to reduce expensive sprinklers and smoke venting systems as well.

The centre’s birthing pool facility on the third floor provided an additional challenge. Due to the nature of the patients, normal evacuation principles were out of the question. After negotiation with the approving authorities, FDS Consult UK adopted a more progressive horizontal evacuation approach through the use of compartmentation, similar to that of a hospital. The costs of these works were minimal in comparison to the alternatives and saved significant time.

As part of the strategy, FDS Consult UK also demonstrated the acceptance of extended travel distances, which enabled the reduction of staircases and so the creation of more usable floor space. The strategy also utilised modified compartmentation to allow open spaces whilst maintaining sufficient compartmentation to ensure adequate protection to escape routes and also limiting any potential for internal fire spread.

Established in 2001, FDS Consult UK bases its fire safety designs on the “first principles” of fire engineering. Alongside its pioneering research and development programmes, this allows it to deliver innovative and cost effective fire systems of the utmost safety to a diverse range of clients.

Now open, the £12 million health and well-being centre is providing a wide range of services for 9,000 local residents. Thanks to an innovative fire engineering strategy from FDS Consult UK, patients as well as staff are being cared for and work in a facility that offers superb fire performance.



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