Oct 01 2011

Bulletin Boards in Corridors

Category: Bulletin Boards,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 9:02 pm
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Q: What is the requirement for bulletin boards in exit corridors? I heard from another hospital that bulletin boards greater than 4 square feet must be protected with glass. Is this true?

A: Not according to the 2000 edition of the LSC, but perhaps that hospital was referring to a local or state requirement. The 2000 edition of the LSC is rather quiet on the subject of bulletin boards, so authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) that enforce NFPA codes and standards use their own interpretation for guidance. Some AHJs use section 19.7.5.4 as a guide to determine if there are sufficient quantities of combustibles that a hazard of a spread of fire is possible. I’ve seen other AHJs use section 17.7.4.3 which allows up to 20% of the wall surface with artwork and teaching materials, but that only applies to Day-Care Occupancies, and I don’t know how they make the jump to healthcare occupancies. Some AHJs use section 10.2.5 which allows up to 10% of the wall surface to be Class C where Class A and Class B finishes are required. But that provision was to allow wood trim around doors and windows or chair rail moldings. The bottom line: This is not an exact science. Since the LSC is not specific, it is up to the AHJs to interpret how to enforce it. Since the typical hospital has 5 or 6 different AHJs that enforce NFPA codes and standards, you will have to comply with the most restrictive interpretation, so I suggest you be conservative on this issue.


Feb 01 2011

Bulletin Boards in Corridors

Category: Bulletin Boards,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 7:19 pm
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Q: What are the limitations to bulletin boards that have paper tacked to them, in exit corridors in a hospital? Do they have to be behind glass doors?

A: No, the bulletin boards don’t have to be behind glass or plastic doors, but it couldn’t hurt. The problem is the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC) is very quiet concerning the issue of bulletin boards in corridors, and surveyors and inspectors are left to use whatever standard they believe is applicable. Some surveyors use section 10.2.5.3 of the 2006 edition of the LSC as a guide, which specifically addresses bulletin boards and says they should not exceed 20% of the aggregate total area of the wall where they are applied. But The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have not adopted the 2006 edition, so that 20% rule is not enforceable. Another suggestion is to conduct an assessment for safety risk in regards to the bulletin boards that you do have. In the absence of written standards or codes on an issue, a risk assessment is always an acceptable solution to a perceived problem.

NOTE: Please refer to the October, 2010 posting for additional information on bulletin boards in the corridor.


Nov 01 2010

Bulletin Boards in Corridors

Category: Bulletin Boards,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 5:45 pm
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Q: What, if any, are the limits on bulletin boards in a means of egress corridor? I have managers who want to place large quantities of paper on their bulletin boards in their corridors.

 A: There are limits in regards to the way the bulletin board is used. First, you have to determine if the bulletin board is used to display combustible decorations or just business papers. If it is used for decorations, then 18/19.7.5.4 applies, which says combustible decorations such as photographs and paintings in such limited quantities that a hazard of fire development is not present, are permitted. So, a bulletin board with paper decorations is a judgment call by the AHJ. Will it contribute to the spread of a fire? I suggest you go conservative on this, and request a ruling from your local fire marshal. On the other hand, if the bulletin board is used for business paper (memos, notices, etc.) and not for decorations, then the LSC is rather silent on the subject, when used in healthcare occupancies. I suggest you again consult with your local AHJ and request a ruling. In lieu of a direct LSC requirement, if the local AHJ permits the bulletin board to remain, then other AHJs should respect that.