Fire Treated Wood in Walls

Q: I have a contractor coming in to put up a wall in our nursing home dining room. He is wanting to use fire treated wood. Would this be acceptable to the Life Safety Code?

A: Did you first discuss this with your architect? Or did you first discuss this with your state agency that licenses nursing homes? You need to do that to make sure what you install is compliant with codes and standards.

I cannot answer your question because I do not know what your construction type is, how many stories you have, and whether or not you are fully protected with sprinklers. Is this wall going to be load bearing or non-load bearing?

If your facility is Type I or Type II construction, then combustible materials are not permitted on load-bearing walls, and other structural members. Fire-treated wood is considered combustible, so it would not be permitted for use on structural members of the building.

According to section of the 2012 Life Safety Code, it says interior nonbearing walls required to have a minimum 2-hour fire resistance rating shall be permitted to be of fire retardant treated wood enclosed within noncombustible or limited-combustible materials, provided that such walls are not used as shaft enclosures. Is the wall going to be fire-rated to a minimum of 2-hour rating? But this section does not permit fire-retardant wood to be used on walls that are less than 2-hour fire rated.

According to section, fire-treated wood that serves as supports for the installation of fixtures and equipment shall be permitted to be installed behind noncombustible or limited combustible sheathing. You definitely need the gypsum board sheathing to cover all of the fire-retardant-treated wood, but that’s only for fixtures and equipment supports.

The way I read the LSC, unless the fire-treated wall is a 2-hour fire-rated wall, or the fire-treated wood is used to support equipment or fixtures, then it is not permitted in a healthcare occupancy.

Before you let this contractor begin, you really need to contact your architect and have him/her design the proper wall assembly, and then have it approved by your state and/or local authorities.

Sharps Container

Q: One of our doctors wants me to mount a large sharps container just inside the wall. It won’t hinder the door, but I’m wondering if there are any safety issues regarding how high or low the sharps container can be mounted.

A: Inside the wall? If I understand you correctly, you will be cutting open the wall to insert the container inside the wall?

If so, you need to confirm that the wall is not a rated wall of any type. There are multiple different ratings for walls in a hospital, such as: 2-hour fire-rated, 1-hour fire-rated, smoke barrier, and smoke partition. These walls cannot be breeched to insert a sharps container.

Once installed, the sharps container cannot project more than 4-inches into the corridor. This applies if the container is surface mounted or mounted inside the wall.

As far as height of the container is concerned, the Life Safety Code does not address this issue, but there are likely other standards that may apply, such as CDC standards, AAMI standards, AORN standards, FGI Guidelines, etc. Please check with your state and local authorities before making any decisions on mounting these containers.

UPDATE: I was informed by a reader that the gold standard for placement and handling of sharps containers (including height and reasoning for determination) is NIOSH document 97-111 Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Disposal Containers.

Thank you….


Hello everyone….

By now you’ve probably noticed a new home-page to my website. We made upgrades and improvements that should make it easier for you to find a specific topic.

On the right-hand side of the home-page are a list of eight article categories, with over 170 sub-headings. Hopefully these headings will allow you to quickly find information on the subject you are seeking. We also have a search-bar prominently displayed on each page to allow you to search for those subjects that are not listed in the categories and sub-headings.

We will continue to make changes to the website to make your time more useful and efficient.

Thank you….

Brad Keyes