At times we struggle to decide when do new construction requirements (chapter 18 of the LSC) apply and when do existing conditions (chapter 19 of the LSC) apply. CMS seems to go on the principal that anything constructed on or before the date that they adopted the latest edition of the LSC will be considered existing, and anything constructed after the date they adopted the LSC will be considered new. For the current 2000 edition of the LSC, that date is March 11, 2003.
But the Annex section of 1.4 in the 2000 LSC specifically says anything designed to meet the requirements of a prior edition of the LSC must be required to meet those conditions for the life of the building. So, if a previous edition of the LSC (such as the 1985 edition) required a new hazardous room to be sprinklered and protected with 1-hour barriers, then that room must be maintained with sprinklers and 1-hour barriers for the life of the room, and does not qualify for the less restrictive smoke resistant barriers for an existing hazardous area in the 2000 edition of the LSC. This can get confusing, because one does not always know when a hazardous room was created. Also, there are other examples such as smoke compartment barrier construction, and corridor door latching that can apply to this requirement as well.
As a default, many (but not all) authorities having jurisdiction will follow CMS’s lead and use the date March 11, 2003 as a general date to determine new vs. existing when they do not have prior knowledge of when a feature of life safety was constructed or what was required by prior editions of the LSC. Accreditation organizations do not expect their surveyors to spend much time during a survey to research when a feature of life safety was constructed, but if this information is provided for them, here is how they may interpret the LSC:
Research shows that CMS adopted the 1967 edition of the LSC in 1971, and then the next update was the adoption of the 1985 edition in 1988. Then, as mentioned, the next update was the adoption of the 2000 edition on March 11, 2003. For now, we have prior knowledge on the following issues:
The 1967 LSC required new construction hazardous areas to be either 1-hour fire rated or protected with automatic sprinklers; not both. The 1985 LSC similarly said new construction hazardous areas could be either 1-hour fire rated or protected with sprinklers, but did specify that certain rooms had to have both. Therefore, it is possible that certain hazardous rooms constructed prior to March 11, 2003 did not have to be both 1-hour fire rated and be protected with sprinklers, while certain other hazardous rooms did.
So, for purposes of assessing compliance with the 2000 LSC, if the hazardous room is one of the following, then the date to decide if new or existing requirements apply is March 11, 2003:
- Boiler room and fuel-fired heater room
- Laundry rooms greater than 100 square feet
- Repair shops
However, if the hazardous room is one of the following, then the date to decide if new or existing requirements apply is January 1, 1988:
- Soiled linen rooms
- Paint shops
- Trash collection rooms
- Rooms greater than 50 square feet used for the storage of combustibles
Smoke Compartment Barriers
The 1967, 1985, and the 2000 editions of the LSC require new construction smoke compartment barriers to be 1-hour fire rated with non-fire-rated doors. The 2000 LSC allows existing smoke compartment barriers to be 30-minute fire rated. Therefore, for the purpose of assessing compliance with the 2000 LSC the date to decide if new or existing requirements apply is January 1, 1971. Every smoke compartment barrier constructed on or after January 1, 1971 must meet new construction requirements, and constructed to 1-hour fire rated, with non-fire-rated doors.
The 1967, 1985 and the 2000 editions of the LSC require new construction corridor doors to be positive latching. The 2000 LSC allows existing corridor doors to be held shut with a device capable of keeping the door closed with a force of 5 foot-pounds. Therefore, for the purpose of assessing compliance with the 2000 LSC the date to decide if new or existing requirements apply is January 1, 1971. Every corridor door constructed on or after January 1, 1971 must meet new construction requirements and have positive latching hardware.
Again; most accreditation organizations do not expect their surveyors to spend much time figuring out when a particular hazardous room, smoke compartment barrier, or corridor door was constructed. But, if the hospital is claiming existing conditions on these issues, and they provide a date of construction which is inconsistent with the above stated dates, then an issue may exist whereby you may not qualify for existing conditions.