Barriers Separating Suites

Q: We have two adjacent suites that are not separated by a smoke wall. My question is; does a door along that separation have to meet the requirements of a smoke door? The door does not open into a corridor, it is only separating the two suites. Also, should that suite separation barrier be a smoke wall all alone the separation?

A: There are requirements for the barrier that separates two adjacent suites, but the phrase you use “smoke wall” is not the correct description. According to section of the 2012 Life Safety Code, the barrier that separates suites from other suites (and the barrier that separates suites from all other areas of the hospital), must be equal to the construction of the existing corridor walls as described in through This means, if your corridor walls are permitted to be non-rated smoke resistant and extend from the floor to the ceiling, then that means the barrier separating the two suites must be as well. However, if your corridor walls are required to be ½ hour fire rated and extend from the floor to the deck above, then that is also the requirement for the barrier separating the two suites. In both cases, the door between the two suites would have to resist the passage of smoke and be positive latching, but is not required to be fire-rated or self-closing. You use the phrase “smoke wall” which is ambiguous. That is not a NFPA term. According to NFPA, there are smoke partitions (i.e. corridor walls, non-rated hazardous room walls) and there are smoke barriers (i.e. barriers that separate smoke compartments), and there are different requirements for both.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.