Smoke Detectors in Existing Facilities

Q: Are existing healthcare occupancies required to have smoke detectors if they are fully sprinklered?

A: Smoke detectors are required in certain areas of healthcare occupancies, but they are not dependent upon whether or not the facility is sprinklered. But what type of healthcare occupancy are you referring to? A hospital? A nursing home? There are slightly different requirements for smoke detectors depending on the use of the healthcare occupancy. For example: A hospital is not required to have smoke detectors in the corridors or patient sleeping rooms but according to the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code, a hospital is required to have smoke detectors in the following areas:

  • Within 5 feet of a door held open by a magnet, or the entire area served by the door is protected with smoke detectors;
  • In areas open to the corridor that are not directly supervised;
  • In elevator lobbies, mechanical rooms, and shafts where the elevator travels more than 25 feet in any direction above or below the level best served by the responding fire fighters;
  • In the room where a fire alarm panel (including NAC panels) is located, if the room is not continuously occupied;
  • Any other area where smoke detectors are installed to satisfy a local or state requirement, or an equivalency approved by an authority.

In addition to the above, new construction in nursing homes are required to have smoke detection in the corridors.