Dec 29 2017

Penetrations in Corridor Walls

Category: Corridors,Questions and Answers,WallsBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: Our life safety drawings identify the corridors in our hospital as being smoke partitions. My question is do wall penetrations above the dropped ceiling need to be sealed with a fire caulk like products used in 1 and 2 hour walls?

A: According to the Life Safety Code, a hospital corridor wall is required to be meet two-different standards, based on whether or not the smoke compartment where the corridor is located is fully protected with sprinklers. If protected with sprinklers, then the corridor wall is permitted to be smoke resistant (not-fire-rated) and extend from the floor to the deck, or from the floor to the ceiling if the ceiling also resists the passage of smoke. Be aware, however, that where NFPA recognizes that a suspended grid and tile ceiling does resist the passage of smoke, the IBC does not.

The other corridor wall requirement is where the smoke compartment is not fully protected with sprinklers, then the corridor wall must be 30-minute fire-rated and extend from the floor to the deck above. There is no exception to terminate at the ceiling if the ceiling resists the passage of smoke. NFPA describes a 30-minute fire-rated wall as steel studs with one layer of gypsum board on one side.

Since you state your corridor walls are smoke partitions, then the question is, do they have to extend all the way to the deck or do they qualify to terminate at the ceiling provided the ceiling also resists the passage of smoke? Since these are smoke partitions and not fire-rated barriers, you would be permitted to use non-rated, non-combustible caulk to seal any penetration, in lieu of using fire-rated materials.


Dec 15 2017

Suite Entrance Doors

Category: Corridors,Doors,Questions and Answers,SuitesBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: A hospital has 2 different suites with double egress entry doors and the Joint Commission surveyor noted that these doors are supposed to have latching hardware because they are “corridor doors,” but in my experience, cross-corridor doors are not typically required to have latching hardware.  Can you weigh in on this?

A: I agree totally with the surveyor. According to the LSC, suites are nothing more than rooms; albeit a large room with smaller rooms inside. Therefore, corridor entrance doors to suites must positively latch because corridor doors are required to latch according to 18/19.3.6.3.5, 2012 LSC.

The thing that throws people off is what looks like a corridor inside a suite is not a corridor; it is a communicating space. The requirements of a corridor do not apply inside a suite. But the designers often make this space 8 feet wide and for all intent and purposes people think it is a corridor. Then, the designer places double egress doors as entrances to the suite (which is good when you’re pushing patients in an out on beds) and the doors look like cross-corridor doors. They’re not; they are corridor doors.

The hospital has to make those doors positively latch or they have to change the designation from a suite to a corridor, which is not advisable.


Oct 23 2017

Suite Entrance Doors

Category: Corridors,Doors,Questions and Answers,SuitesBKeyes @ 12:00 am
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Q: We have a double egress, cross-corridor door which will enter a suite under a renovation project. The suite wall is also an existing smoke barrier wall, separating smoke compartments. However, we do not want an exit route through the suite, as this would be a code violation. The new layout will not cause a dead-end corridor and the suite will house less than 50 people. Is it allowable to replace the double egress door with a pair of out swinging doors?

A: As long as the new doors are not cross-corridor doors, I believe you can have a pair of single-egress doors as an entrance to the suite in a smoke compartment barrier. Under section 18.3.7.6 of the 2012 LSC, all new cross-corridor doors serving a smoke compartment barrier must be the double egress type. But from your description, it appears these new doors would not be cross-corridor doors, but would be corridor entrance doors to the suite.

These new doors would have to latch because they are corridor entrance doors to a suite, even though they serve a smoke compartment barrier.


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.


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