May 25 2015

Door to Medical Gas Storage Room

Category: Doors,Medical Gas,Questions and Answers,StorageBKeyes @ 1:00 am

Q: I have an existing medical gas storage room in an outpatient surgery center that was constructed with 1-hour barriers and ¾ hour fire rated door. A surveyor cited me because he says the door has to be constructed of non-combustible or limited combustible materials. The door that is installed is a high pressure decorative laminate with a bonded agri-fiber core with a 45 minute fire resistance rating. I maintain that doors are exempted from the noncombustible/limited-combustible provision. Who’s correct?

A: One scenario that the surveyor may hold you accountable to is medical gas systems in ambulatory care occupancies are regulated by the Life Safety Code, and not by NFPA 99. The Life Safety Code (2000 edition) would look at medical gas room as a hazardous room, and for ambulatory care occupancies, a hazardous room compares their level of hazard to their surrounding area. The section that regulates hazards in ambulatory care occupancies is section 20/21.3.2 which refers you to 38/39.3.2, which in turn refers you to section 8.4. Section 8.4 essentially says any area with a higher level of hazard than the surrounding area needs to be protected with fire protection sprinklers, or 1-hour fire rated barriers. Section requires a 1-hour fire rated barrier to have at least a ¾ hour fire rated door as long as the fire barrier is not used as a vertical opening (such as a rated shaft) or an exit enclosure (such as a stairwell). Hopefully, you don’t have the med gas room in a stairwell, so a properly labeled ¾ hour rated doors is acceptable, and in this scenario I would say the surveyor is mistaken. However, if the surveyor requires that you comply with NFPA 99 in regards to medical gas systems, then that is an entirely different situation. Section 4- (a) 11 (a) of the 1999 edition of NFPA 99 requires doors to be constructed of non-combustible or limited combustible materials. If the 45-minute fire rated door that you have is laminated with limited combustible materials, then it would not be compliant with NFPA 99 (1999 edition), and I would say the surveyor is correct. Section 3.3.118 in the Life Safety Code defines what limited combustible materials are. I suggest you contact the manufacturer of the door and ask them to produce documentation whether or not the door meets the heat values stipulated in section 3.3.118, that may qualify the door as being constructed with limited combustible materials. Now, on another point of view, if the surveyor requires you to comply with NFPA 99, 2005 edition, the door to this room still has to be constructed from non-combustible or limited combustible materials, but it is no longer permitted to be ¾ hour fire rated, but must be 1-hour fire rated, according to section The 2012 edition of NFPA 99 has the same requirement.

Feb 03 2014

CO2 Gas Manifold

Category: Gas Manifolds,Medical Gas,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 6:00 am

Q: We have a situation in our Lab where they would like to purchase another incubator that requires additional CO2 gas.  The problem is that we do not have a designated space for storing more than 1 H size cylinder.  We have a space that is used to store flammable agents and is a two hour fire rated room with a fire suppression system, exhaust and the doors are equip with door closures.  Very little amounts of flammable agents are stored in this room anymore. Could we use this room as our gas manifold room for the CO2 gas?

A: NFPA 99 (1999 edition), section 4- is the code reference where oxidizing gases used in a manifold system are not allowed to be stored with anything else. Though, in your example you want to create a manifold system for CO2, which of course is not an oxidizing gas. I do not see anything in NFPA 99 that would prevent you from using this room for the CO2 compressed gas manifold system. However, it would be best to have the flammable agents stored inside a fire-rated metal storage cabinet.

Aug 04 2013

Medical Gas Shutoff Valves

Category: Medical Gas,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 5:00 am

Q: I came across a medical gas shutoff valve that was located behind an access panel in a small storage closet in a surgery department. The closet was packed and equipment was blocking the access panel. There was no signage. Do you know if this is permitted or is it breaking a bunch of rules as it seems to me?

A: You are correct… This is way wrong. What you described is a zone valve and NFPA 99 (1999 edition) section 4- (d) requires zone valves to be readily operable from a standing position in the corridor on the same floor that it serves. Section of the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code requires the hospital to be in compliance with NFPA 99 for “medical gas storage and administration areas”. The phrase ‘administration areas’ is all inclusive of the medical gas supply system, which means you must comply with NFPA 99 even for existing conditions. My advice to you is to relocate the valve to the corridor in accordance with NFPA 99, and provide adequate signage as to the areas that it serves.

Mar 21 2013

Medical Gas Shut-Off Valves

Category: Medical Gas,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 5:00 am

Q: What is the distance needed to prevent obstructing medical gas shut-off valves?  Is it just not having anything directly in front of the valve itself – or does it have to be a certain distance away on each side?

A: This is a judgment call as there is not a specific distance identified for clearance in front of or to the side of medical gas shut-off valves. Section of the 2000 edition of the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code (LSC) requires medical gas systems to be in compliance with NFPA 99 (1999 edition) Standard for Health Care Facilities. Section 4- (d) in NFPA 99 requires zone valves (another name for shut-off valves) to be readily operable, and does not mention any specific clearance requirements in inches or feet. The definition of what is readily operable is left up to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to decide, and our opinions don’t count (unless you are an AHJ!). In my experience, I have observed many AHJs using 3 feet clearance in front of the medical gas shut-off valves as a reasonable definition of readily operable. The 3 feet distance is widely believed to be taken from NFPA 70 the National Electric Code, in describing the clearances required in front of electrical panels.