Parking Garage Underneath Healthcare Occupancy

Q: Can you have a parking garage under a health care occupancy/patient sleeping areas, that does not have smoke separations but does have a 2-hour fire rated barrier between the floors? This is a project in the planning stages. Currently the floor serves administrative offices and will be converted to a patient floor.

A: I am not aware of any reason in the Life Safety Code that would prevent you from having a parking garage underneath a healthcare occupancy, provided you have the proper 2-hour fire rated separation barrier. A parking garage is required to be a Storage occupancy according to 3.3.188.15 of the 2012 LSC, so there must be a 2-hour fire-rated barrier separating the parking garage and the healthcare occupancy.

Section 18.3.7.2 (5) is clear that open-air parking structures protected throughout by a sprinkler system does not have to be subdivided into two or more smoke compartments. Since it is new construction, the entire hospital, including the parking garage, would have to be fully sprinklered. Also, the parking garage would have to be the same construction type as the healthcare occupancy.

As always, check with your state and local authorities to see if they have more restrictive regulations.

Separation Between Hospital and Parking Structure

Q: We have a three-story parking structure attached to a hospital. The top floor of the parking structure is not covered and is open to the atmosphere. Is the exterior wall of the hospital adjacent to the top floor of the parking structure required to be fire-rated? Our original drawings show the wall as not rated.

A: Yes… I would say so. According to section 3.3.188.15 of the 2012 LSC, a parking garage would be considered a Storage Occupancy, and since this is contiguous to the hospital (which is a healthcare occupancy) section 19.1.3.3 (2) would require that you need a 2-hour fire-rated barrier separating the healthcare occupancy from the storage occupancy.

Technically speaking, the entire parking garage is open to the atmosphere, so the only difference between the top deck of the parking garage and the lower decks is there is no roof on the top deck. The top deck is still a storage occupancy just like the lower decks. The LSC does not allow any exceptions to not provide a 2-hour fire rated barrier between the healthcare occupancy and any other occupancy just because it does not have a roof.