I received this picture recently from a good friend who works in a hospital, and is responsible for plumbing and power plant operation. He wanted to know if the medical gas shutoff valves which are located behind this door, are permitted since the valve box can be seen through the window in the door.
Apparently, the hospital installed new smoke compartment barrier doors in this area, and the previous doors were single-egress doors, which means both doors swung in the same direction. Well, according to section 4.6.7 of the Life Safety Code (2000 edition) when you make alterations and install new equipment, you must meet the conditions of the new occupancy chapter of the Life Safety Code, which in this case would be Chapter 18. Section 18. 3.7.5 requires new cross-corridor smoke compartment barrier doors to swing in opposite directions, or as commonly called, dual egress.
So, what happens in so many hospitals where the project team is not part of the facilities management team, some things get built or installed without the consultation and knowledge of those individuals who know the codes and standards the best. Now, I suspect my friend who sent me this picture knew the answer to the question before he sent it. At times, people need the assistance from consultants in order to emphasize the need for their own fellow employees to take action.
So, for those who may not know the answer… No. This condition is not acceptable. According to section 4-188.8.131.52(i) of NFPA 99 (1999 edition), the shutoff valves must be installed where they are visible and accessible at all times. The [valve] boxes must not be installed behind normally open or normally closed doors, or otherwise hidden from plain view.
So what we see in the picture would likely be cited by a surveyor or inspector, especially since they can partially see the shutoff valve box through the window in the door. My friend says he will move the valve box, but I suspect that will cost quite a bit of funds, and a certain amount of medical gas interruption for the nursing unit. Not the best way to run projects.