Sep 21 2015

Portable Space Heaters

Category: Portable Space Heaters,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 12:00 am

Q: Are portable heaters permitted in long term care facilities in offices and other locations?

A: Portable space-heating devices are prohibited in healthcare care occupancies (such as hospitals, nursing homes, limited care facilities and hospice centers with more than 12 beds), with the exception of those portable heaters whose heating elements do not exceed 212 degrees F which are only permitted in smoke compartments which do not contain sleeping rooms, or patient care or treatment. For free standing medical offices which are classified as business occupancies, then the Life Safety Code has no restrictions on portable heaters. But if those offices are located in the healthcare occupancy, then you must comply with the above requirements. Depending on your authorities having jurisdiction, portable heaters may not be permitted even in areas that do not contain patient care, treatment or sleeping beds.

Jan 26 2015

Portable Heaters

Category: Portable Space Heaters,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 6:00 am

Q: As the cold weather starts to creep up on us I’m continuously asked by staff if they can have a personnel heater in their office space (not patient care areas). What kind of heaters are permitted and where?

A: Portable space heaters whose heating element does not exceed 212°F (100°C) are permitted in non-patient care or non-patient treatment areas in healthcare occupancies. These portable heaters would have to be inspected upon purchase and be accounted for in the organization’s equipment utility equipment inventory.

Patient care areas area loosely defined as a smoke compartment which contains patient care or treatment activities. This is in accordance with the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code, section 19.7.8. You should conduct a risk assessment for the use of portable space heaters even if they are compliant and not used in patient care areas. The presence of a portable heater implies the HVAC system is not performing adequately to meet the requirements of the building. That is a “red flag” for a surveyor who can investigate and determine what corrective action that you have taken, other than placing a portable heater there. Also, the facility’s electrical distribution system may not be able to handle additional heating appliances. Portable heating appliances should only be used as a short-term solution, rather than a final fix.

Nov 01 2010

Portable Space Heater in Unoccupied Space

Category: Portable Space Heaters,Questions and AnswersBKeyes @ 5:37 pm

Q: We have a contractor who wants to use a propane gas-fired portable heater to warm an unoccupied space that is currently under renovation in the hospital. The central heating system has been removed for replacement and the contractor is worried about freezing water pipes. What concerns should I have about this arrangement?

A: There is a lot to be concerned about. First of all, section 19.7.8 of the Life Safety Code (LSC) does not allow portable heating devices where the heating elements exceed 212°F in patient care areas. The Joint Commission has interpreted that to say portable heaters are not allowed in the same smoke compartment where patient care is provided. So, if the unoccupied space is also in a smoke compartment that includes patient care activities, then it is not permitted. Section requires heating devices to be designed and installed with a proper chimney for venting, and the combustion air must come from the outside. An approved, suspended unit heater would be permitted in this application provided it is mounted high enough to be out of the reach of persons working in the area, and it would have to be installed with the appropriate safety features to immediately stop the flow of fuel and shut down the heater in the case of extreme temperature or ignition failure. Combustibles will have to be removed and not allowed to accumulate.

NFPA 241 Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations (1996 edition) requires all temporary heating equipment to be monitored for safe operation and maintained by properly trained personnel.