Q: I have a storage question for you that relates to storing beds and other hospital equipment in our mechanical rooms. Is this allowed or would I be cited for storing things in the mechanical room??
A: To be sure, mechanical rooms are designed to house mechanical equipment, and storage should not obstruct access to the mechanical equipment. According to the 2000 edition of the LSC, storage in mechanical rooms is not prohibited, however there are some requirements that you must meet. The mechanical room must not contain any open flame or fossil-fuel fired heating equipment. The items stored in the mechanical room must be orderly and neat. Storage cannot obstruct access to electrical panels, fire extinguishers, fire alarm pull stations, and must be clear of all sprinklers located on a horizontal plane 18 inches below the sprinkler deflector. If the items stored in the mechanical room are combustible (cardboard boxes, paper or plastic wrapping, linens, etc.) then the mechanical room must meet normal hazardous room requirements. If the room is new (meaning if the room has been designated for storage on or after March 11, 2003), then it must be protected with automatic sprinklers and the walls constructed from the floor to the deck above with 1-hour fire rating, with a ¾ hour fire rated, self-closing, positive latching door. If the room is considered existing (meaning the room was designated as storage before March 11, 2003 and there have not been any major renovations since), then it must be protected with automatic sprinklers with walls that are smoke resistant and extend from the floor to the ceiling, and protected with a 1 ¾ inch solid bonded wood core door that is smoke resistant and self-closing and positive latching, or if not sprinklered, then the room is required to be protected with 1-hour fire rated barriers. However, please check with your state and local authorities as they may have other codes or standards that may prohibit storage in a mechanical room.