Connecting Bridge

Q: We have a connecting bridge between two of our buildings. On one side of the bridge is healthcare occupancy and on the other side is business occupancy. There is a 2-hour fire rated barrier between the bridge and the healthcare occupancy building. We have offices on the bridge, which are protected with sprinklers. What would the requirements be for these offices since they open into the egress corridor?

A: Since you have a 2-hour occupancy separation between the healthcare occupancy and the business occupancy, then you treat the bridge as if it is a corridor in a business occupancy. Each corridor has to have two exits, which in your case, one exit would be into the business occupancy building, and the other exit would be into the healthcare occupancy building. The offices on the bridge would have to meet the requirements for separation found in the business occupancy chapters. For new construction business occupancies, section of the 2012 LSC requires the corridor walls to be 1-hour fire rated, unless one of the following is met:

  • Exits are available from an open floor area;
  • The space is occupied by a single tenant;
  • The building is protected throughout by an automatic sprinkler system.

For existing construction business occupancies (construction design approved prior to July 5, 2016) there are no requirements. However, if constructed between March 11, 2003 (the date the 2000 LSC was adopted) and July 5, 2016, a surveyor could expect that you be compliant with new construction requirements.

Connecting Bridge between Two Hospitals

Q: We have a new 12 story patient tower that is built next to our original 4 story hospital. On the 4th floor there is a bridge that spans across the street below and connects the two structures. Are we required to have a fire rated separation between the bridge and the two hospitals?

A: There are a lot of variables with your question. If the bridge is an unprotected structure or has a construction type that is less than the adjoining hospitals then a 2-hour fire rated barrier would have to be maintained at the entrance to the bridge on both ends. Is the occupancy between the two buildings the same or are there different occupancies such as healthcare vs. business or ambulatory care? If there are different occupancies involved, then a 2-hour fire rated barrier is needed to separate the occupancies from each other. Are the two buildings the same construction type or are they a different construction type, such as Type I (332) or Type II (222)? If the two buildings have a different construction type then a 2-hour fire rated barrier will have to be maintained to separate the two buildings. Is there a change in elevation that the bridge creates between the two buildings that transposes two floors? If so, then a 2-hour fire rated barrier will have to separate the floors.

Check with your local and state building code officials as some building codes restrict the amount of area that a construction type can cover. The connection into the other building that the bridge creates may exceed to maximum allowable area of a certain construction type. A 2-hour fire rated barrier may be needed to limit the area of certain construction types.