Q: Does a door that accesses a construction site within a hospital need to have an automatic closer installed on the access door? What if the door is constructed within temporary drywall barriers?
A: The 2012 Life Safety Code references the 2009 edition of NFPA 241 which has changed from previous editions to require fire-rated barriers separating construction areas from occupied areas. The 2009 edition of NFPA 241 now requires all construction areas to be separated from occupied areas with 1-hour fire rated construction, which will include ¾ hour fire rated doors that are self-closing and positive latching. There is an exception in the 2009 NFPA 241 that allows non-fire rated barriers if the construction area is protected with automatic sprinklers, but the Annex section of NFPA 241 specifically says ‘construction tarps’ would not be permitted. It is unclear if using flame retardant plastic visqueen to separate construction areas from occupied areas would be permitted since the standard does not allow tarps. The NFPA HITF committee began to deal with this issue but failed to come to a consensus.
That means steel studs and gypsum board would still need to be used to separate construction from occupied areas, however if the construction area is sprinklered then the separation barrier would not be required to be 1-hour fire rated. The construction area would still be considered a hazardous area which requires a self-closing door.