Oct 13 2017

Storage in a Corridor

Category: Corridors,Questions and Answers,StorageBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: If I had a hallway (breezeway which connects two healthcare occupancies) which is greater than 8 feet wide (approximately 12ft) and beds and other equipment (usually broken chairs) are being stored on one side of the breezeway for more than 30 minutes, would this be allowed as long as the width is maintained at 8ft or greater?

A: Yes… it would be permitted according to section 18.2.3.4 of the 2012 Life Safety Code, provided the items stored in the corridor allow for a clear width of 8 feet in the corridor, and the items stored does not constitute a hazardous area. So, combustible items such as furniture would not be permitted if the total area of the stored furniture exceeds 50 square feet. Also, flammables would not be permitted to be stored in the corridor.

Another thing to look at is if the corridor could possibly be used by inpatients. If so, then the clear width must be maintained at 8 feet. But if there is no chance of inpatients using this connector corridor, then the required width would be 44 inches.


Sep 15 2017

Corridor Projections

Category: Corridors,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: I understand that with the adoption of the new 2012 Life Safety Code there is a change in corridor projections from 6 inches to 4 inches. Would this new code allow for a PPE cabinet to be recessed into the wall?

A: Yes… a PPE container that is recessed into the wall would be fine as long as the exposed portion does not project into the corridor more than what is permitted. When CMS published their Final Rule to adopt the 2012 Life Safety Code on May 4, 2016, they stated they will not recognize the NFPA Life Safety Code on corridor projections which allows a 6-inch projection. Instead, they are adhering to the ADA requirement of a maximum of 4-inches for corridor projections.


Jun 26 2017

Carpet on Corridor Walls

Category: Carpet,Corridors,Questions and Answers,WallsBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: I have a nursing home that is over 20 years old that has carpet on the corridor walls below the handrails. I am been told that this carpet must be removed. I am not able to find any information on the 20-year old carpet that gives the flame spread rating. What are my options other than removing it?

A: It depends on who is telling you to remove the carpet and why. If you were cited by a state surveyor or an accreditation organization, ask them to please identify the standard and reason for the citation. They should be able to identify the precise standard, code, or regulation why the carpet needs to be removed.

I suspect the violation comes from 19.3.3.2 of the 2012 Life Safety code where existing interior finish materials have to be Class A or Class B on corridor walls, which would require a flame spread rating between 0 – 75, and a smoke development rating of 0 – 450.

If you cannot prove that the flame spread rating and smoke development rating of the carpet falls within these parameters, then you have no choice but to remove the carpet from the walls. After 20 years… it’s time for an upgrade.


Jun 23 2017

Required Width of New Corridor

Category: Corridors,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: We have a corridor that connects an existing elevator lobby on the 2nd floor of a three story hospital to a new addition. The corridor is used for the transfer of personnel and patients from one building to another. It is not an exit corridor; there are exits on each end of the connector. As designed the corridor is 7′-7″ clear. Is this width permitted, or do we need to re-design to get the 8′ clear width?

A: All corridors are exit access corridors and are part of the path of egress. They just aren’t all required to be 8 feet wide. Where there are no inpatients, the corridor can be 44 inches wide. In your situation, the corridor between the elevator lobby and the new addition would be considered an exit access corridor because inpatients are wheeled in this corridor. One may believe that this corridor would have to be 8 feet wide since inpatients use this corridor, but it is an existing condition that is connected to a new addition, which requires you to comply with Chapter 43 on rehabilitation, according to section 4.6.7.2 of the 2012 LSC.

Now, section 43.2.2.1.3 does define a modification as the reconfiguration of any space; the addition, relocation, or elimination of any door or window, the addition or elimination of load-bearing elements; the reconfiguration or extension of any system; or the installation of any additional equipment. Section 43.5.1.3 requires all modifications to comply with the requirements for new construction.

The question is, does the existing corridor have to comply with 43.5.1.3 and be modified to meet new construction requirements? I don’t believe it does, but that is a question for the authorities over design and construction of the healthcare facility.

My advice is as follows:

  1. Obtain a written interpretation from your state or local authority over design and construction.
  2. If it is possible and practical to do so, then widen the corridor to at least 8 feet;
  3. If it is ‘impractical’ to widen the corridor, then assess it for ILSM, and implement compensation activities as your policy dictates. You can then wait to see if the AHJ (i.e. a surveyor from your accreditation organization) considers it a deficiency, and submit your reasoning that it is impractical to resolve and see if they agree. If they do not, then you can submit a waiver request after the survey.


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).


Mar 27 2017

Connecting Bridge

Q: We have a connecting bridge between two of our buildings. On one side of the bridge is healthcare occupancy and on the other side is business occupancy. There is a 2-hour fire rated barrier between the bridge and the healthcare occupancy building. We have offices on the bridge, which are protected with sprinklers. What would the requirements be for these offices since they open into the egress corridor?

A: Since you have a 2-hour occupancy separation between the healthcare occupancy and the business occupancy, then you treat the bridge as if it is a corridor in a business occupancy. Each corridor has to have two exits, which in your case, one exit would be into the business occupancy building, and the other exit would be into the healthcare occupancy building. The offices on the bridge would have to meet the requirements for separation found in the business occupancy chapters. For new construction business occupancies, section 38.3.6.1 of the 2012 LSC requires the corridor walls to be 1-hour fire rated, unless one of the following is met:

  • Exits are available from an open floor area;
  • The space is occupied by a single tenant;
  • The building is protected throughout by an automatic sprinkler system.

For existing construction business occupancies (construction design approved prior to July 5, 2016) there are no requirements. However, if constructed between March 11, 2003 (the date the 2000 LSC was adopted) and July 5, 2016, a surveyor could expect that you be compliant with new construction requirements.


Feb 08 2017

Corridor Door Louver

Category: Corridors,Doors,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: Is there a code that says anything about adding a vent through a door that is in the corridor of our hospital?

A: Well… you might be able to do that legally on a very few specific corridor doors (i.e. bathroom doors, toilet rooms doors, shower room doors), but no, you cannot install a louver in a typical corridor door in a hospital because section 19.3.6.3.1 of the 2012 LSC says corridor doors have to resist the passage of smoke. Therefore, a louver in a door would not resist the passage of smoke.

Now, a very few specific corridor doors do not have to resist the passage of smoke as described in section 19.3.6.3.2 (1), and you would be permitted to install a louver in those doors.


Aug 10 2015

Corridor Width

Category: Corridors,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: Can you give me the NFPA Life Safety Code (2000 edition) reference showing 8 foot required width in egress corridors in an existing healthcare occupancy?

A: There is no direct LSC reference that requires 8 feet wide corridors in existing hospitals. But; it’s an interpretation. Section 19.2.3.3 of the 2000 Life Safety Code says corridors have to be at least 4 feet wide in existing healthcare occupancies. Section 4.6.7 says when you make alterations, you must meet new construction requirements. Section 18.2.3.3 requires 8 feet wide corridors in new construction healthcare occupancies. So, let’s say you have 7 foot wide corridors in an existing hospital. That’s legal. But the minute you make an alteration (including storing something non-combustible in the corridor) now it must meet the requirements for new construction, which is 8 feet. So, the correct way of stating corridor width in existing healthcare occupancies is the corridor must be free and clear up to 8 feet wide. If the corridor is 7 feet wide: That’s okay as long as the width is free and clear.


Apr 13 2015

Handrails in Corridors

Category: Corridors,Handrails,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 6:00 am
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Q: I am working on an aesthetic corridor remodel for a hospital. Can you please tell me if there are specific requirements as to handrail locations (i.e- one side of the wall vs. both sides, at what locations, for what amount of distance, etc.)?

A: In regards to healthcare occupancies, and specifically hospitals, there is no Life Safety Code requirement for handrails in an exit access corridor. There are requirements for stairs, exit enclosures, ramps and exit passageways to have handrails, but the LSC does not have any requirements for corridors. However, there are other codes and standards to consider. The Facility Guidelines Institute requires hospitals to comply with ADA requirements in regards to handrails in corridor, unless the functional program narrative specifically decides against them. What this means, if the hospital has a written program that describes the use and activities that the corridor serves is not consistent with handrails, then it is permissible not to install them. An example of this may be a Psychiatric unit where a handrail could possibly be removed and used as a weapon. In essence, the hospital gets to decide if there will be handrails, but the reason needs to be plausible and written down in a program narrative. Also, compliance with ADA requirements is required whenever new construction or renovation of an existing area is conducted. I do not believe just installing new wallpaper qualifies as renovation, so compliance with ADA would not be required. I strongly recommend that you contact the local and state authorities to determine if they have regulations that would require handrails.


Feb 24 2014

Privacy Curtains or Screens?

Category: Corridors,Curtains,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 6:00 am
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Q: The health care facility where I work needs additional privacy on the nursing floor from the rest of the building.  I would like to know if we could mount a ceiling track across the beginning of the nursing hallway, with a lightweight privacy curtain that can be drawn open or closed as needed; or place two decorative lightweight free-standing folding screens placed at the entrance to the nursing hallway.?

A: Assuming the nursing hallway that you refer to is an exit access corridor; then no, neither option that you suggest would comply with the LSC. Section 19.2.3.3 of the 2000 LSC edition requires the corridor to be arranged to avoid any obstructions for the convenient removal of non-ambulatory patients. That means nothing may be placed in the corridor that could obstruct access, such as the screen. A curtain hanging down from the ceiling would not be permitted according to section 7.5.2.2, which could conceal the path to the exit. However, permanently installed side-hinged swinging privacy doors would be permitted and are often used in situations like the one that you described. The new barrier for the doors would not have to extend to the deck above and would be permitted to terminate at the ceiling. The doors and frame would not be required to be fire rated, and would not have to have positive latching hardware. Any changes to the facility should be reviewed by your state and local authorities.


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