Clearance Around Equipment

Q: What does the NFPA codes and standards require for clearances around electrical panels, fire alarm pull stations, and med gas panels?

A: The National Electrical Code (NFPA 70, 2011) section 110.26 requires 36 inches clearance around electrical equipment and controls. NFPA does not have a set distance that fire alarm pull stations and med gas stations (shutoff valves) must be maintained, but most authorities ‘borrow’ the 36 inch rule from NFPA 70 and apply it to the fire alarm pull stations and med gas shutoff valves.

It makes sense.

Obstructions to Fire Alarm Control Panel

Q: Where in the Life Safety Code does it require clearance in front of a fire alarm control panel? I have a situation in our hospital where we want to put a stanchion near the panel, but I thought we had to maintain a certain amount of clearance. Can you point me to the exact standard? 

A: The requirement to maintain a certain amount of clearance in front of all electrical panels (which includes the fire alarm panel) is found in NFPA 70 National Electrical Code (NEC), section 110-26(a), which says: “Sufficient access and workings pace shall be provided and maintained about all electrical equipment to permit ready and safe operation and maintenance of such equipment.” The actual distance required for clearance is found in Table 110-26(a) and is required to be 36 inches.