Teamwork: Ron Simpson, left, capital projects manager; Sharon Schofield, theatre sister – Grantham; Keiron Davey, fire safety officer

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS trust has embarked on a major programme to ensure full compliance with fire safety regulations and HT05-02.

With the first phase of the scheme for higher risk areas well underway, Ron Simpson, the trust’s capital projects manager, and Keiron Davey, fire safety officer, tells Hospital Times how specifying customised doors form Orca Building Products enabled them to fit the bill, perfectly, and ensure a smooth installation programme, with minimal disruption to patients and staff.

Ron says: “This is a two-year scheme covering all passive and active fire precautions across the trust, including fire doors, fire compartmentation, and emergency lighting. The initial work covers the trust’s three acute hospitals – Lincoln County Hospital, Grantham District Hospital, and Pilgrim Hospital, Boston.

“We started in September 2016, updating the fire safety drawings at Lincoln and Grantham on CAD. This identified fire walls and fire doors, high dependency, electrical cupboards, risers, service corridors, kitchens, breakfast areas, staff areas, and rest rooms.

“For Phase 1, we looked at higher risk areas where patients cannot be moved, such as theatres and intensive care, and those required to deliver continuity of community care, such as dialysis and pharmacy.

“We appointed Focus, our architects and consultants, to write the specification and went to tender. From the four or five returns we chose Orca Building Products.”

Ron explains: “We were already familiar with Orca’s work within the community facilities on-site. They’d also worked on a ProCure21 scheme with our principal supply chain partner, Keir, and had done work at Pilgrim Hospital.

“The doors and frames are custom-made. Orca are replacing each door and frame with a customised sizing of the doors. We don’t have standard doors across our sites, so Orca’s ability to provide customised fire doors was very useful. It would be more expensive to do it with standard doors due to the amount of other remedial work that would be required.

“The trust decided that all the fire doors had to be certified. Orca are a BM TRADA accredited installer. This provides us with third party accreditation, to TRADA’s Fire Door Inspection Standard, and enables us to show due diligence.”

Taking patient safety seriously

Keiron says: “Due diligence shows we take patient safety seriously and we are able to demonstrate that to a regulatory body. It gives us ‘Defence in Place.’

“We involved Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue in our consultation process across the trust and we invited them to check the installations.”

Keiron explains: “We needed to ‘bed’ theatres in, so we did the four theatres at Grantham first. This gave an early opportunity to get all the problems sorted out early on. It enabled Orca to get used to us and we got used to them. They became very flexible.

“Orca did one theatre a week over four weekends. We started on the first theatre during the day, but the work proved too noisy. Orca were very flexible and in discussions with them it was decided to do all the work from 6pm, with each phase completed ready for the next day. Sometimes it was held up due to emergency, out-of-hours operations, when the Orca installation team did other, quieter work.”

Ron says: “Orca took out about six sets of doors and frames per theatre and replaced them with fully-clad doors and frames. This aids our infection prevention and control measures as they are easily washable. We also replaced the ventilation grilles, so they are intumescent.”

Keiron explains: “We communicated with all staff within the operating departments. They wanted obscure glass, with a vision hole to allow appropriate staff to view.

“Staff were also fully engaged with the selection of colours for the doors. The Ocean Blue doors allow anyone in short sleeves access to the general theatre area. There are different coloured doors for each of the four theatres, with access only for those in scrubs.

“The Ocean Blue door is being adopted across the trust to allow access to general areas. We’re using the colour scheme to assist with infection control.

“Following coroners’ general recommendations after incidents elsewhere involving theatres, we took the opportunity to enhance the security arrangements within our theatres as well. There are key pads and punch locks at Grantham. In Lincoln, we’re installing a swipe card system for certain doors in higher risk areas following requests from staff there.”

Keiron says: “Orca have been very competent, very professional in the manner and ethics in which they have approached things. It has relied on good communication between Orca and our staff. Orca struck up a very good relationship with the theatre sisters.

“If the work needs to be stopped – say for an emergency – we can give them timeframes. It enables Orca to re-schedule and undertake other activity during the period.”

Ron says: “It all went very smoothly at Grantham. We’ve had no complaints from staff. I’ve no problem with how Orca performed. They’ve been very flexible, very reliable. Any queries we had were responded to immediately.

“We gave the theatres at Lincoln and Boston a long lead-in to plan. We’ve allowed the 11 theatres at each hospital to be done over two 14-week periods. There are three weeks to cover for unforeseen circumstances. With Orca working in one theatre each weekend. This will ensure that the impact is minimal, as they can plan and re-schedule their workload or move equipment, if possible, to ensure minimal disruption to the patients. It also gives an opportunity to be flexible around the use of our specialist theatres.

“There’s an agreement that when Orca take a door out it will be replaced before they leave site that night.”

Ron explains: “As with any project, communication is a vital element to get the scheme working well. This includes the Orca staff working on the tools.”

Keiron agrees and adds: “Talk, talk, and talk. Communication is key at all levels. If in doubt, talk. It resolves issues. Many problems have been resolved at local level before we got involved.

“There are 220 door sets being changed across the three sites – single door, door and-a-half, double doors, door and-a-leaf. Most are 30-minute doors but we do have some 60-minute doors.”

As an example of Orca’s flexibility, Keiron explains: “Following an incident, we recently had a requirement for two door sets very quickly to enable us to get an area back up and running very quickly. Orca had the new doors ready for installation in 48-hours.

“This only comes about if you have a good working relationship and we have with Orca.”

Next phase of trust-wide scheme underway

The next phase of the trust-wide scheme is underway. Keiron says: “We’re currently surveying fire doors across the trust. Wards are being surveyed now and we’ve identified fire hazard points. Due to the dynamic nature of the wards we’ve identified work to be undertaken such as: store rooms, linen rooms, sluices, changing rooms, etc. They need fire doors, detectors, compartmentation, if appropriate – including dampers within the ventilation system. We’re making sure that a fire can’t spread beyond the room of origin.”

Giving a clinical perspective of the success of the work so far, Sharon Schofield, theatre sister, explains: “There were some delays due to operations taking longer than expected. But Orca got on with other work, which was quieter. They worked through the night and always ensured we were operational the next day.

“We made a plan of which doors were being replaced and when, especially for stores, which meant we had to move the contents. This involved our estates team and hospital cleaners, together with the Orca trades people and their project co-ordinator Michelle Sherris. Michelle was marvellous. Lovely to deal with and very helpful.”

Steve Johnson, manager of Orca Building Products, says: “The project at Grantham went well, even though we had several challenges. We had tight timescales, ensuring everything was correct every time as each door and frame were made specifically for each opening. You must be prepared to work like this when the buildings are from the 1970s.

“When each door was handed over it was fully operational and fitted to BM TRADA standards. Our lead installer is always a qualified BM TRADA fire door installer, which gives third party accreditation to the work.”

With the Orca team now working on the theatres at Lincoln and then Boston, Steve adds; “Both the factory staff and the site team do an amazing job to ensure the projects are going to plan.”

For further information, call Orca Building Products on 01652 682897 or visit