LEGIONELLA AND FIRE FIGHTING SYSTEMS

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UCL Fire Technical Note - TN073
Fire Safety
Technical Guide
LEGIONELLA AND FIRE FIGHTING SYSTEMS
1.0. MAINTENANCE OF FIRE HOSE REEL SYSTEMS - UCL ESTATE
1.1.
Introduction - the risk of catching legionella from fixed fire fighting
equipment is negligible, never the less, UCL staff and contractors carrying
out fire fighting equipment maintenance (particularly on Fire Fighting Hose
Reels), must be made aware of the potential risk of infection.
1.2.
This document identifies the risks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and
safety precautions to be employed when carrying out the maintenance of
fire fighting systems, which have the potential to carry legionella bacteria.
2.0. HEALTH ISSUES
The term Legionellosis covers a group of diseases (which include
Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia) that can be contracted
by inhaling water droplets or aerosols containing bacteria from the
genus legionella.
2.1.
The risk of catching legionellosis from a properly installed and maintained
firefighting system is negligible. Although this risk may increase for private
water supplies for maintenance personnel and in establishments, where
there is a very warm ambient temperature such as hospitals. Legionnaires’
disease develops within 2 to 10 days after exposure and symptoms may
include loss of energy, headache, nausea, high fever and muscular pain,
followed by a dry cough and pneumonia. About 50% of patients become
confused or delirious and about 30% also develop diarrhoea or vomiting.
The symptoms can be indistinguishable from pneumonia and it is possible
that many legionella infections are misdiagnosed as viral pneumonia, rather
than the bacterial Legionnaires’ disease. Pontiac fever develops within five
hours to three days after exposure, exhibiting influenza-like symptoms.
Victims generally recover in two to five days without treatment Legionnaires’
disease has a reported 1% contraction rate for exposed persons. The
infection risk increases with the concentration of legionella in the air, the
respiratory rate of the individual, the length of time the person is exposed
and the ability of the individual to fight off the infection.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Date Last Amended: Dec 15
1.
Issued by the - Fire Safety Manager, UCL Estates, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT - This guide is to be regarded as a general statement of
UCL local requirements, information or guidance only & supplements relevant British Standards or Manufacturers Instructions etc.
UCL Fire Technical Note - TN073
2.2.
Persons at a higher risk of infection include:

Males (who are three times more susceptible than females);

Adults, particularly those over 50 years;

Those with pre-existing respiratory disease;

Smokers / Alcoholics;

Those with immune suppressive illnesses, e.g. cancer, diabetes, AIDS, or
kidney disease; or undergoing immune suppressive drug therapy, e.g.
organ-transplant & chemotherapy patients;
3.0. PERSONAL PROTECTION:
 The conditions normally found within firefighting systems
(sprinklers, drenchers and ring mains); are not thought
able to support the growth of populations of legionella;
 The operation, maintenance and testing of fire fighting
systems (Hose Reels) may create fine water droplets
during testing or maintenance, which could be inhaled.
The ingestion of fine water mists and droplets is to be
avoided by maintenance staff and building occupants;
 There is no known risk to eyes; however, standard eye
safety should always apply safety spectacles or
goggles used where appropriate;
 When carrying out maintenance or testing on fixed firefighting systems where water droplets in a fine mist may
be generated; then respiratory protection must be
worn. Simple mouth & nasal protection, which meets
MIST or DROPLET protection standard, should be used.
Mask to meet: type 3M - 9320 or similar (EN149 - 2001
Category FFP2);
 Always wash hands and any contamination on skin
thoroughly:
 Before eating, drink or smoking;
 On completion of task;
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Date Last Amended: Dec 15
2.
Issued by the - Fire Safety Manager, UCL Estates, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT - This guide is to be regarded as a general statement of
UCL local requirements, information or guidance only & supplements relevant British Standards or Manufacturers Instructions etc.
UCL Fire Technical Note - TN073
4.0. GENERAL PROTECTION MEASURES:
 Contain discharged water in enclosed container and dispose
of wastewater down the nearest drain. Respiratory protection
MUST be worn during this operation. It is suggested that an
empty 25 litre enclosed container is used with small opening
with which the nozzle can be inserted into the opening;
 Carry out testing and maintenance of Fire Hoses Reel systems
between 07:00 and 08:30 hrs, to reduce the exposure to
building occupants of water spray;
 Water from a fire hose used at real incidents by building
occupants or the fire brigade is very unlikely to cause a fine
mist (as not contained for testing) but used in open space in
jet format or large spay droplets;
4.1.
Further information from: ‘Legionella and Fire Fighting Systems’ Loss
Prevention Council Technical Briefing Note available through the UCL Fire
Safety Manager
General matters relating to UCL Legionella program of monitoring and
testing, through the Director Engineering, Maintenance & Infrastructure
(EM&I).
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Date Last Amended: Dec 15
3.
Issued by the - Fire Safety Manager, UCL Estates, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT - This guide is to be regarded as a general statement of
UCL local requirements, information or guidance only & supplements relevant British Standards or Manufacturers Instructions etc.
UCL Fire Technical Note - TN073
5.0. PART 2 - DECLARATION
Declaration:
Declaration by UCL Staff and Contractors engaged in the maintenance and testing
of fire fighting systems (in particular Fire Fighting Hose Reels) that they:

Understand the potential (if negligible) health risks of Legionella in Fire Fighting
Systems’;

That they do not suffer from any potential or identified high risk conditions at Part
2 or this Technical Note;

That they will strictly adhere to, and carry out the procedures and safety
precautions in this UCL Technical Note in all UCL premises as far as reasonable
practical

If they are in doubt, they will seek advice through the UCL Fire Safety Manager.
Name:
Position:
Department or
Company:
Signature:
Date:
Witnessed by:
Position:
Date:
Signature:
Notes:
1.
UCL Contractors are to provide their own protective clothing;
2.
This declaration is to be kept by the UCL Fire Safety Manager on completion.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Date Last Amended: Dec 15
4.
Issued by the - Fire Safety Manager, UCL Estates, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT - This guide is to be regarded as a general statement of
UCL local requirements, information or guidance only & supplements relevant British Standards or Manufacturers Instructions etc.
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