Strange Observations – Part 42

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen while consulting at hospitals…

This northern hospital was going for a woodsy theme in their Pediatric department. I wasn’t concerned that the wood logs were supporting the structure, but was very concerned about the flame spread rating in the corridor.

Without getting into a lot of detail, the interior finish is allowed to be Class C (76-200 flame spread) in corridors provided it is no higher than 48 inches above the floor, and the building is fully protected with sprinklers.

Well, this was a brand-new hospital, so the building was protected with sprinklers, but as you can see the wood posts are taller than 48-inches. The flame spread rating on interior finish above the 48-inch line in corridors would be limited to 75. Wood has a much higher flame spread rating than 75, depending on the type of wood used.

Now, solutions to a problem like this could be to coat the wood posts with fire-retardant coating that reduces the flame spread to an acceptable level. But that is not as easy as it sounds, since the flame retardant coatings are clear and proving it is on the wood is difficult. And it has a life of about 2-years, so every 2-years you need to re-apply the coating.

It would have been better to not use actual wood as an interior finish. Where are the architects in a situation like this?