SFPE Discussions

Chemotherapy Treatment

A standalone small single storey medical centre is to have an extension that will allow chemotherapy patients to receive treatment. There is a supporting letter from a leading oncologist stating that the patients are ambulant and able to self-evacuate after removing the cannula from their arm. They are not sedated at all and in fact are required to have a level of wellness in order to receive the treatment.

The design was completed on the basis of risk group CA. The BCA says it should be SI. I do not agree - but stand to be corrected. Can find no relevant determinations.

Would really appreciate any stories of similar cases or general comments.

Thanks once again.

Hi Tim
Start with code clause C4.2 where it clearly states that there must be a low probability (not zero) that occupants are not unreasonably delayed. The minute taken to remove a cannula would not constitute an unreasonable delay. A person can be removed from a CT scan machine in seconds and again is not listed but obviously not an unreasonable delay. C/VM2 is another option to meet C4.2, in other words C/VM2 also permits delay provided it is not unreasonable. I would look at what Table 1.1 actually provides as they are only examples. The list would be neither inclusive nor exclusive as it would be impractical to list all procedures in that category. Examples are general guidelines rather than a definitive list.

Hi Tim
I have just been down the same path with dialysis treatment where we we told there is a 3 minute delay before occupants could self evacuate. Even though we could demonstrate that the patient evacuation time would be less than for a CA occupation of the building we could not convince the BCA of any merit in the approach. So we resorted to applying the C/AS2 SI requirements with modifications that resulted in the fire safety design becoming an alternative solution. I inherited the project and in hindsight would have applied the C/AS2 SI design in full. Just remember - if you do not have any sleeping patients, then all the “group sleeping area” requirements disappear. The C/AS2 4.1.16 Special care facilities requirements apply.

Hm…the activity is definitely “chemotherapy”. Which is an “example” in C/AS2. A supporting letter makes it clear that evacuation would be delayed by only a very short time. I get that the BCA is looking at the words in C/AS2, but to me C/AS2 is applicable.

I just tried to apply the design as per Robert’s suggestion. Under the old C/AS2 Fig 4.5a would apply making it a full on group sleeping area. Under the new ‘clearer’ C/AS2 that option doesn’t exist and the nearest option of Fig 4.5b is less onerous than before as up to 6 ‘patients’ can be in the one smoke cell. In other words 6 patients would be in a single firecell with no further passive works.

But John, they are not asleep. They are fully awake and alert. They just have a cannula thing in their arm. Sorry, but I am now rather confused.

Sorry to confuse you Tim. What I meant is that following that path would steer it into a GSA even though no one is asleep as you say. I spent decades donating blood and lying on a bed with a needle in my arm would not delay my escape by more than a few seconds with there always being 1 nurse for every 2 or 3 donors. What Councils are missing is that code clause C4.2 states low probability (not zero probability) and not unreasonably delayed (rather than instant evacuation).