Most hospitals would struggle to cope for half-a-day without an adequate hot water and heating supply; in the event of a boiler breakdown, patients could be put through the inconvenience (and stress) of being moved to other wards (or even hospitals), and operations could be cancelled.
In severe weather, the imperative to restore a sufficient hot water and heating supply is, of course, keener still.
Vital sterilisation of surgical instruments
Imagine the horror of a sudden loss of hot water and heat during a long operation that is scheduled to take place over a number of hours. With surgical instruments and other equipment needing to be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised throughout the procedure, a boiler failure at a hospital could actually be a life-threatening occurrence.
Thankfully, most, if not all, hospitals have a contingency plan in place; to cover them should the unthinkable happen. It is usually the responsibility of the Site Services or Estates Department or the Facilities Management Company* (an FM company) to ensure a proper contingency plan is established.
* In the UK, FM companies will often look after a number of hospitals within a Healthcare NHS Trust, with an account manager being in place at each separate location.
About contingency plans
A boiler failure contingency plan at a hospital will almost certainly include the involvement of a specialist boiler hire company an experienced team of boiler rental engineers who are primed to respond quickly in the event of a boiler emergency call-out. The plan will include details of a number of suppliers the hospital can call, not only for the emergency provision of rented boilers, but also chiller units, air conditioning, heaters, and dehumidifiers, etc.
As we have already seen, the boiler hire team would have a maximum of half-a-day to get a hired, mobile boiler (or boilers) on-site at the hospital, and to get it up and running with full hot water and heat supply being restored so that patients may bathe and shower, and also so that central heating and air conditioning at the hospital can be provided as and when needed.
Hired boilers during planned maintenance work
It is not just in the event of an emergency at a hospital that a rented boiler could be needed; at certain times of the year hospitals perform servicing and/or routine maintenance on their built-in boiler, with it often needing to be non-operational during this time (sometimes, boiler servicing and maintenance can take weeks to complete). Where a boiler can still function to some degree during servicing and maintenance, a hired boiler can be on standby.
At a UK hospital, access to site for the delivery of boilers and other plant is usually good, due to the importance of the service. Also, site managers will already know which type of hired boiler they will need (size, capacity, etc.); all this can save valuable time.
All this makes the option to hire boilers during boiler maintenance (rather than trying to save money by keeping a built-in boiler operational) an invaluable one.
Types of hired boilers used in hospitals
Hired boilers used at UK hospitals where needed are usually 100kW to 500kW; however, a large hospital could need 6MW or more to ensure adequate hot water and heating supply.
Small 22kW boiler units may also sometimes be used; these are electric, whereas larger boilers can run on diesel or mains gas and come trolley mounted, skid mounted or road towable (this makes it easier to get into awkward or tight sites).
Heat exchangers (to cope with excessive water temperatures) and fuel bowsers can also be supplied by the boiler hire specialist, and so daily diesel replenishment by the client or supplier is not necessary. (Air handling units and fan coil units, which deliver large volumes of warm air wherever needed, can also be supplied).
Emergency call-out procedures
In response to an emergency call, the boiler hire team will attend the site immediately, whilst priming the hirers Service Response team of a potential emergency requirement to ensure equipment and manpower is available. The team would then work with the hospital maintenance staff to get the equipment in and connected as quickly and safely as possible.
For planned maintenance jobs, site surveys are key
For planned maintenance jobs, full site surveys are undertaken with plans drawn to determine access routes and to evaluate where the hired boiler (and its related equipment) can be placed. Photos are taken during the survey to assist the team on installation day. There can often be months between the site visit and the job itself, so drawing-up plans at the outset reduces potential problems later on.
CAPEX approval not needed!
Because a rented boiler is only for temporary use, the client will not have to attain CAPEX Approval (Capital Expenditure Approval); therefore, the decision to utilise a boiler hire companys services can be instantly made. What is more, maintenance of the equipment will also be the hire companys responsibility, which saves on service contract costs.
All this makes hiring boilers an ideal, cost-effective option for hospitals and other medical facilities managed by Healthcare NHS Trusts.