Battery Charging Room

Q: Are there any Life Safety Code requirements for a battery charging room, such as HVAC pressurization and air changes per hour (ACH) rates? These rooms are where I charge my EVS floor machines.

A: I guess it would depend on how the room is interpreted in regards to its function. According to the 2014 FGI Guidelines, which references the ASHRAE 170 table, a janitor’s closet must be negative, have 10 ACH, the air in the room must be exhausted to the outdoors, you cannot have a room HVAC that recirculates air, and there are no design requirements for humidity and temperature.

If the room is hazardous material storage (which sounds more like it), the room would have to meet the same requirements as listed above, with the added requirement that there is 2 ACH of outdoor air.

But those are for new construction. For existing conditions, you would have to comply with the FGI or AIA requirements in effect at the time of the design of the room.


EM Lights in MRI

Q: I have a question on the requirement for the battery backup lighting inside the MRI suites. We are in the process of building two new MRI centers and I am receiving a lot of push back from the Project Engineer.

This engineering group specializes in MRI projects and they tell me they never install battery backup lighting and that NFPA 99 does not require battery backup lighting anywhere outside of an operating room. I was told to reference of NFPA 99-2012 which specifically mentions operating rooms. My reply was that does not specify only operating rooms so it is much broader in scope and since we use anesthesia in the MRI it would be required.

Before I stir up the pot anymore with the engineering firm I wanted to make sure that if Anesthesia is being used in the MRI room that emergency battery backup lighting should be in place.

A: Yes, you are correct. NFPA 99-2012, section requires one or more battery-powered lighting units within locations where deep sedation and general anesthesia is administered. That includes MRI areas, Cath Lab areas, and of course, Operating Rooms and Procedure rooms. ICUs and NICUs would typically not be included.

Just because the project engineer from the contractor has never been told to install battery-powered lighting units before does not preclude the fact that it is a requirement and it is enforced by CMS and the Accreditation Organizations. The engineer is mistaken.