Obstructions to Fire Extinguishers & Med Gas Valves

Q: Can a patient bed or gurney be left in front of a fire extinguisher or a medical gas shutoff valve in a procedural area, such as an operating room, or a Cath lab? This would only be during the procedure. Wouldn’t the bed be considered ‘in use’?

A: Regardless if the bed is considered in use or not, you are not permitted to block access to a fire extinguisher or a med gas shutoff valve. NFPA 10-2010, section 6.1.3.1 is very clear that access to fire extinguishers cannot be obstructed. And NFPA 99-2012, section 5.1.4.8.4 is also very clear that you cannot obstruct access to medical gas shutoff valves. Even a short-term temporary obstruction to either of these is not permitted. It is best to find a place out of the way for the beds and gurneys that do not obstruct access to these critical items.