Obstructions to Fire Extinguishers & Med Gas Valves

Q: Can a patient bed or gurney be left in front of a fire extinguisher or a medical gas shutoff valve in a procedural area, such as an operating room, or a Cath lab? This would only be during the procedure. Wouldn’t the bed be considered ‘in use’?

A: Regardless if the bed is considered in use or not, you are not permitted to block access to a fire extinguisher or a med gas shutoff valve. NFPA 10-2010, section 6.1.3.1 is very clear that access to fire extinguishers cannot be obstructed. And NFPA 99-2012, section 5.1.4.8.4 is also very clear that you cannot obstruct access to medical gas shutoff valves. Even a short-term temporary obstruction to either of these is not permitted. It is best to find a place out of the way for the beds and gurneys that do not obstruct access to these critical items.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.