Stairwell Re-Entry

Q: I’m a Facilities Director overseeing an existing 8-story (basement included) acute care hospital fully sprinklered. We wish to mechanically lock (no auto unlock feature) floors 2-7 (Floor one being the level of exit discharge) to prevent reentry from the stairwell side. I believe there used to be an exemption from the requirements of Chapter 7 of the 2000 LSC 101 for existing hospitals that are fully sprinklered; does that exemption still exist in the 2012 version? Can I lock all 6 floors and be code compliant?

A: Section 19.2.2.2.3 of the 2012 LSC says doors not located in a required means of egress shall be permitted to be subject to locking.

Section 19.2.2.2.9 says existing healthcare occupancies shall be exempt from re-entry provisions of 7.2.1.5.8. But Annex section A.19.2.2.2.9 says doors to the stairwell on the different levels should be arranged to open from the inside of the stairwell at not less than every third floor so it will be possible to leave the stairway if fire renders the lower part unusable.

Section 7.2.1.5.8 says every stairwell that serves more than four stories must have re-entry capabilities on every floor, but the doors could be locked with electronic locks that unlock (not unlatch) on a fire alarm signal. Section 7.2.1.5.8 continues with other exceptions and requirements, but section 19.2.2.2.3 says hospital are exempt from all of that.

So, based on the Annex section, you can lock the doors from re-entry from the stairwell side, but every third floor needs to be unlocked. So, come up with a plan so every third floor door is unlocked for re-entry.