Evacuation Route Maps

Q: Where in the Life Safety Code does it say evacuation route maps are required to be posted on the floors in a hospital?  I cannot find the reference and I have people saying they are not required.

A: Your people are right… the Life Safety Code does not require them. But then you may ask, why are they posted in many of the hospitals in the country? The answer is the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code (LSC) never required them. The reason so many hospitals thought they needed to post evacuation route maps is due to an incorrect interpretation by CMS (or the fore-runner of CMS: HCFA) in the 1990’s. If you look at section 18/19.7.1.1 of the 2000 LSC, it says the hospital must have a plan for the evacuation to areas of refuge and for the evacuation from the building in the event of a fire. Back in the 1990’s, this was miss-interpreted by the federal agency to require posted evacuation route maps, so hospitals put them up. Eventually, it was brought to CMS’s attention that the code does not require evacuation route maps, just a plan, and CMS agreed and removed the requirement form their inspection forms. But, the word did not get around very well, and hospitals continued to maintain them.

I think posted evacuation route maps are very useful and hospitals should consider using them. But, from a national authority level, they are not required.