Dec 07 2017

Business Occupancy Fire Drills

Category: Business Occupancy,Fire Drills,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
Share

Q: For clinics that are listed as business occupancies is there a requirement to activate the fire alarm system (chimes and strobes) and send a signal to a third party during a routine fire drill? We have documented staff participation with each drill. The building fire alarm system including communication with the third party is also completed during the year per standard. The clinic (business occupancy) may be located in a building with many other types of businesses.

A: I don’t think so. If you look at the healthcare occupancy chapter section 18/19.7.1.4 (2012 LSC), it says fire drills shall include the transmission of the fire alarm signal. However, there is no comparative section in chapters 38 & 39 for business occupancy. Since the business occupancy chapter does not specifically require the activation of the building fire alarm system for a fire drill, then I would say it is not a Life Safety Code requirement. It would be best practice, but not a requirement.

Sections 38/39.7.2 (2012 LSC) says fire drills in business occupancies (where required) must comply with section 4.7. Section 4.7 discusses many requirements regarding fire drills but activating the fire alarm system is not one of them. Please review your accreditation standards to determine if they require activation of the fire alarm system during a fire drill in a business occupancy.


Nov 02 2017

Business Occupancy Emergency Lighting

Q: I have a question concerning an ambulatory surgery center that is now converted over to a business office only. We are not doing any patient care in this facility. We currently have a generator that supports the egress lighting and exit signs. What are our requirements for testing and maintaining this generator for a business occupancy?

A: Since you say the building is now classified as a business occupancy, we need to look at Chapter 38 in the 2012 LSC for direction. Section 38.2.9.1 says emergency lighting must be provided in accordance with section 7.9 where one of the following conditions exist:

  • The building is three or more stories in height
  • The occupancy is subject to 50 or more occupants above or below the level of exit discharge
  • The occupancy is subject to 300 or more total occupants

If you do not meet one (or more) of the above conditions, then emergency lighting is not required, and therefore testing and maintenance of the generator is not required. However, if you do meet one (or more) of the above conditions, then you must comply with section 7.9 for emergency lighting. Section 7.9.2.2 says new emergency power systems for emergency lighting must be provided by emergency generators in accordance with NFPA 110, and you must continue to maintain weekly inspections, monthly load tests, and 3-year load tests.


Oct 20 2017

Offsite Fire Drills

Category: Business Occupancy,Fire Drills,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
Share

Q: Our hospital has several “out buildings” or offsite Doctor’s offices. Are we required to do fire drills at these offices? Three of our buildings have fire alarm systems that are tested semi-annually. But we weren’t sure if we were supposed to conducting fire drills at these doctor’s offices or how often they need to be done to be in compliance?

A: Generally, yes… fire drills are required once per shift per year at offsite business occupancies, but it has much to do with your accreditor, or any other authority who enforces the Life Safety Code. Physician’s offices are typically classified as business occupancies and section 39.7.2 of the 2012 LSC says fire drills are only required in business occupancies where the building is occupied by more than 500 persons, or if there is more than 100 persons above or below the street level. So, from a LSC stand point there may be an exception to not conduct fire drills if your physician’s offices are under the 500/100 person threshold.

However, you still have to consider what your accreditation organization requires. For instance, Joint Commission standard EC.02.03.03, EP 2 requires annual fire drills in all business occupancies. Other accreditation organizations, state agencies and local municipalities may have the same requirement. So, it is likely that you do have to conduct annual fire drills.


Aug 21 2017

Basement Storage Space in Business Occupancies

Category: Business Occupancy,Questions and Answers,StorageBKeyes @ 12:00 am
Share

Q: I am struggling with the Life Safety Code and need some clarification. I have an offsite clinic that is classified as a business occupancy with a basement measuring approximately 600 sq. ft. The buildings’ gas fueled furnace and water heater are located in the basement. I know we are restricted from storage of combustibles in spaces housing fuel fired equipment; but this is a large useable space that I believe can be safely used for limited combustible storage; medical & office equipment (no medical records or furniture) as long as we maintained a safe separation distance (minimum 36 inches on all sides) from the equipment. The basement is hardwired with interconnected smoke detectors connected to the main level for occupant notification. What is your opinion please?

A: Since this is a new use of the space, you need to comply with 38.3.2.1 of the 2012 Life Safety Code which refers to section 8.7. Section 8.7.1.1 would require the space to be either protected with sprinklers, or separate the hazardous area from all other areas with 1-hour fire resistive construction. The issue here is, section 38.3.2.1 considers any room used for storage (as well as furnace rooms) to be classified as hazardous, so there is no need to create a separation from the stored equipment from the furnace area. Just install sprinklers in the entire basement area, or make sure the barrier (i.e. the floor) is at least 1-hour fire rated.

You need to check with your state and local authorities to see if they have other regulations that would restrict the use of this space for storage.


Jul 21 2017

ABHR Dispensers in Business Occupancies

Q: For business occupancies, does the requirement that alcohol based hand sanitizers cannot be installed above a carpeted floor apply? The business occupancy does not have an automatic fire suppression system.

A: Please be aware that alcohol based hand-rub (ABHR) dispensers are not permitted in the egress corridors of Business Occupancies. This is found in section 38/39.3.2.1 of the 2012 LSC which references section 8.7 of the same code. Section 8.7.3.2 states: “No storage or handling of flammable liquids or gases shall be permitted in any location where such storage would jeopardize egress from the structure…” Since corridors are used as paths of egress in business occupancies that means ABHR dispensers are not permitted in business occupancy corridors.

Now, sections 18/19/20/21.3.2.6 of the 2012 LSC allows ABHR dispensers in corridors of healthcare occupancies and in ambulatory health care occupancies…. but not business occupancies. These sections do allow ABHR dispensers that are mounted over carpeted floors, provided they are located in fully sprinklered smoke compartments. The 2012 Life Safety Code does not restrict ABHR dispensers in offices, exam rooms, and other rooms that are separated from the corridor in business occupancies.

So, to answer your question, the entire story where the ABHR dispenser is located over a carpeted floor must be protected with sprinklers. If you do not have sprinklers, then the ABHR dispensers would not be permitted in areas with carpeted floors. The NFPA standards do not have any exceptions for ABHR dispensers that have ‘drip trays’ built into them.


Jul 17 2017

Generator Testing at Business Occupancies

Q: Does a diesel generator that is located in a business occupancy require the same testing frequencies as the one at our hospital requires?

A: It depends if the generator is required by the Life Safety Code. Sections 38/39.5.1 of the 2012 Life Safety Code says utilities in business occupancies must comply with section 9.1. Section 9.1.3 says emergency generators, where required for compliance with the Life Safety code, must be tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 110, which is the same standard requirement for healthcare occupancies.

So, the question now becomes, is the generator in your business occupancy required by the LSC? Business occupancies do not automatically require emergency power like healthcare occupancies do. For business occupancies, it depends on a variety of issues.

For new business occupancies, emergency lighting is required where any one of the following is met:

  • The building is two or more stories in height above the level of exit discharge;
  • The occupancy is subject to 50 or more occupants above or below the level of exit discharge;
  • The occupancy is subject to 300 or more total occupants.

For existing business occupancies, emergency lighting is required where any one of the following is met:

  • The building is two or more stories in height above the level of exit discharge;
  • The occupancy is subject to 100 or more occupants above or below the level of exit discharge;
  • The occupancy is subject to 1000 or more total occupants.

When emergency lighting is required it must meet the requirements of section 7.9 of the 2012 Life Safety Code. Section 7.9 does not mandate that emergency lighting be powered by a generator, but section 7.9.2.4 does say if the emergency lighting is powered by generators, then the generators must be tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 110.

So, if your business occupancies are required to provide emergency lighting, and the emergency lighting is powered by generators, then the generator must be tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 110, which is the same requirement as hospitals.


May 31 2017

ABHR Dispensers in Business Occupancy Corridors?

Q: Can you give me some direction in the Life Safety Code on where alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) dispensers are not allowed in business occupancy corridors?

A: Take a look at section 39.3.2.1 of the 2012 LSC. It says hazardous areas shall be protected in accordance with section 8.7. Section 8.7.3.2 says “No storage or handling of flammable liquids or gases shall be permitted in any location where such storage would jeopardize egress from the structure unless otherwise permitted by 8.7.3.1.” Section 8.7.3.1 discusses the various methods to store flammable liquids. ABHR product is mostly alcohol which is a flammable liquid; therefore, it is not permitted in any location that would jeopardize egress (i.e. corridors).

Section 8.7.3.2 does not apply to healthcare occupancies because section 19.3.2.6 actually permits ABHR dispensers in egress corridors. Similarly, section 21.3.2.6 does as well for ambulatory health care occupancies. But, chapters 38 and 39 do not have any such language… therefore, ABHR dispensers are not permitted in egress corridors of business occupancies.

If you’re wondering, when the requirements in the core chapters (chapter 1 – 10) differ with the requirements of the occupancy chapters, the occupancy chapters govern (see section 4.4.2.3).


Feb 23 2017

Converting the Lower Level to Business Occupancy

Category: Business Occupancy,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
Share

Q: Our life safety drawings list the basement level at the Hospital as healthcare. There are no patient services in the basement and only support services. I would like to change this to business, but my question is what do I gain as far as items such as hallway clutter, corridor clearance etc. I know the accreditation organization will want to inspect the support services that are located in the basement. My biggest problem is the basement hallways are consistently used as staging areas as new equipment is delivered to the hospital. Equipment can be in the hallways for weeks before it is installed or delivered to the end user.

A: That would be a great idea to designate the lower level as business occupancy… but make sure the facility qualifies for it. For starters, what is the Construction Type? You need to be at a minimum, Type II (222) construction type. You need a solid 2-hour fire rated horizontal barrier between the business occupancy and the healthcare occupancy. Is the lower level used as an exit level discharge? Does any of the upper healthcare occupancy floors egress through the lower level to get to the outside? If so, then the path of egress through the business occupancy that is used for the upper healthcare occupancy must meet all of the requirements for healthcare occupancy. Is there any service, care, or treatment activity for inpatients on the lower level? If so, at any given time how many inpatients would be on the lower level? This may be a sticky wicket as some AHJs do not allow even one inpatient in a business occupancy. Is the hospital’s cafeteria on the lower level? Again, if this is true, then you may often find inpatients in the cafeteria eating with their families. Not a good issue to have in a business occupancy.

Based on the Life Safety Code, advantages of designating the lower level a business occupancy are many… There are no corridor requirements in a space occupied by a single tenant so that means there are no requirement to separate rooms (other than hazardous rooms) from the corridors with doors; and if you have doors they don’t have to latch. You still have to maintain fire rated doors to exit enclosures. Required corridor width would be 44 inches if you have corridors so you are permitted to store non-combustible items in the corridors provided you have at least 44 inches width left over. You still have to maintain your smoke compartments and smoke barriers though, since you are one floor below a healthcare occupancy.


Feb 02 2017

Fire Alarm Systems in Business Occupancies

Category: Business Occupancy,Fire Alarm,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
Share

Q: We are converting a facility that was used as a physician’s office into our women’s clinic and OB/GYN facility. There were previously 4 exam rooms and we are making it into 6 exam rooms. This unit has no fire alarm, no sprinklers, not even a stand-alone smoke detector. This doesn’t seem right in today’s environment.

A: It appears what you are describing is a business occupancy. Section 38.3.4.1 of the 2012 LSC says this about fire alarm systems in business occupancies: “A fire alarm system in accordance with Section 9.6 shall be provided in any business occupancy where any one of the following conditions exists:

  1. The building is two or more stories in height above the level of exit discharge;
  2. The occupancy is subject to 50 or more occupants above or below the level of exit discharge;
  3. The occupancy is subject to 300 or more total occupants.”

If your facility does not meet any of the above requirements, then you would not be required to have a fire alarm system. Also, section 38.3.5 does not require business occupancies to have sprinklers. But please check with your state and local authorities to see if they have other requirements.


Oct 05 2015

Business Occupancy Testing

Category: Business Occupancy,Questions and Answers,TestingBKeyes @ 12:00 am
Share

Q: What are the testing requirements for a two story medical office building with a fire alarm system and sprinkler system? I believe we are required to have an annual fire drill but what about the testing of fire alarm system and sprinkler system?

A: Assuming the two-story office building that you refer to is classified as a business occupancy, the requirements for testing, inspection and maintenance are found in section 39.3.4.1 of the 2000 Life Safety Code, which refers to section 9.6. Section 9.6.1.4 requires the fire alarm system to be tested, inspected and maintained in accordance with NFPA 72 (1999 edition). Likewise, section 9.7.5 requires required sprinkler systems to be maintained in accordance with NFPA 25 (1998 edition). If your sprinkler system is not a ‘required system’, you still need to maintain it, according to 4.6.12.2. The testing, inspection and maintenance requirements found in NFPA 72 and NFPA 25 are the very same requirements that healthcare occupancies need to comply with. The bottom line is: You need to test, inspect and maintain the fire alarm system and the sprinkler system in a business occupancy at the very same frequency and level as you would in a hospital.


Next Page »