Q: We have a corridor that connects an existing elevator lobby on the 2nd floor of a three story hospital to a new addition. The corridor is used for the transfer of personnel and patients from one building to another. It is not an exit corridor; there are exits on each end of the connector. As designed the corridor is 7′-7″ clear. Is this width permitted, or do we need to re-design to get the 8′ clear width?
A: All corridors are exit access corridors and are part of the path of egress. They just aren’t all required to be 8 feet wide. Where there are no inpatients, the corridor can be 44 inches wide. In your situation, the corridor between the elevator lobby and the new addition would be considered an exit access corridor because inpatients are wheeled in this corridor. One may believe that this corridor would have to be 8 feet wide since inpatients use this corridor, but it is an existing condition that is connected to a new addition, which requires you to comply with Chapter 43 on rehabilitation, according to section 188.8.131.52 of the 2012 LSC.
Now, section 184.108.40.206.3 does define a modification as the reconfiguration of any space; the addition, relocation, or elimination of any door or window, the addition or elimination of load-bearing elements; the reconfiguration or extension of any system; or the installation of any additional equipment. Section 220.127.116.11 requires all modifications to comply with the requirements for new construction.
The question is, does the existing corridor have to comply with 18.104.22.168 and be modified to meet new construction requirements? I don’t believe it does, but that is a question for the authorities over design and construction of the healthcare facility.
My advice is as follows:
- Obtain a written interpretation from your state or local authority over design and construction.
- If it is possible and practical to do so, then widen the corridor to at least 8 feet;
- If it is ‘impractical’ to widen the corridor, then assess it for ILSM, and implement compensation activities as your policy dictates. You can then wait to see if the AHJ (i.e. a surveyor from your accreditation organization) considers it a deficiency, and submit your reasoning that it is impractical to resolve and see if they agree. If they do not, then you can submit a waiver request after the survey.