Tunnels Between Hospitals

Q: We have an underground tunnel that feeds and branches out three ways into three different hospitals. We are defining the tunnel as a business occupancy. There is a 2-hour barrier at all three doors leading into each perspective hospital. The tunnel does not have any sprinklers, fire alarm system or smoke detection. It does have a pull station at each hospital entry point. There are also exit signs at all three doors leading from the tunnel into the hospital as an exit. There are no stairways leading up and out from inside the tunnel. After hours there are badge swipes to gain entry into the hospital doors, but does have a 15 second delayed egress. There are no exit signs going from the hospital into the tunnel as a means of egress even though there is a 2-hour barrier, which I believe would turn into a dead end corridor. It’s hard to picture in your mind this scenario (imagine a Y) but do you believe we are compliant? I have not seen any codes related to specific tunnels.

A: You didn’t say how long the tunnels are. I like that you classified them as business occupancies, but without sprinklers, you are limited to 200 foot travel distance to get to an exit. So, if you’re standing in the middle of the tunnel (half-way between hospitals) do you have to travel more than 200 feet to get to an exit? If yes, then you have a problem. If no, then you’re okay on travel distance.

But the delayed egress locks are a problem. You cannot have delayed egress locks in a facility that is not fully protected with sprinklers or fully protected with smoke detectors. For your situation, it may be more cost effective to install smoke detectors in the tunnel to allow the use of delayed egress locks.

Other than that, it appears to me that you’re okay.