Q: Our firm has designed several Psychiatric Units lately and there is a question regarding the seclusion room construction. There is a concern as to whether or not the Seclusion Room should be 1-hour fire rated construction. There is mention of this in older versions of FGI Guidelines but not currently. All other aspects of design are met as per DPH and code requirements. Is this a Life Safety Code regulation that has to be met?
A: I cannot speak to what the state or local authorities require, but as far as the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code (2012 edition), there is no specific requirement for a seclusion room to be constructed to meet 1-hour fire resistive rated construction.
The use of FGI guidelines is dependent on the accreditation organization and/or the state requirements. Most accreditation organizations require new construction to meet the current edition of the FGI guidelines, or the state requirements, whichever is more restrictive. Since the FGI guidelines are in fact guidelines and not standards, the accreditation organizations typically allow other design standards to be used when they are required by other authorities. Generally speaking, accreditation organizations do not comment on or approve designs or construction, but rather they evaluate the organization for compliance to the Life Safety Code.
You will need to contact the state and local authorities to determine what requirements in addition to the Life Safety Code the seclusion rooms need to be constructed to.