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Strange Observations – Sprinkler Pipe Supported From Ductwork

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

This is another picture of sprinkler pipe supported from HVAC ductwork, similar to last week’s Strange Observations.

I include it here to emphasize that sprinkler pipe cannot be supported from anything except the building structure itself.

I suspect I see this problem in 75% of the hospital where I consult… but then, I’m looking for it.

There is one exception to that rule… Sprinkler pipe may be suspended from a hanger that also supports ductwork, provided the hanger is designed to support the weight of the duct, the pipe, the water in the pipe, and an additional 250 lbs. (see NFPA 13-2010, 9.2.1.5). If you ever see sprinkler pipe suspended from the same hanger that supports ductwork, ask the installer to provide documentation that the hanger can support that weight.

Strange Observations – Sprinkler Pipe Suspended From Ductwork

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

Some organizations fail to install sprinklers underneath the ductwork that is 48-inches wide or wider. This facility did not forget, but the sprinkler-fitter who installed this pipe for the sprinkler head attached it to the ductwork, which is not permitted.

The sprinkler pipe can only be suspended from the building itself (i.e. structural beams, joists, etc.), and not from anything else.

There is one exception to that rule… Sprinkler pipe may be suspended from a hanger that also supports ductwork, provided the hanger is designed to support the weight of the duct, the pipe, the water in the pipe, and an additional 250 lbs. (see NFPA 13-2010, 9.2.1.5). If you ever see sprinkler pipe suspended from the same hanger that supports ductwork, ask the installer to provide documentation that the hanger can support that weight.

Strange Observations – Rusty Electrical Box

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

Ah…  This is plain ugly.

As you can see, water ran into this electrical junction-box and eventually rusted out the metal box.

I don’t remember the whole story and quite honestly, it really isn’t my business, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why the facility department did not take appropriate action to resolve the water leak to prevent this from happening.

This is a type of deficiency that can lead to a Condition Level finding, if the surveyor believes the staff failed to properly maintain their utilities… which it appears to be so.

Strange Observations – That’s a Huge Step

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

The maximum rise in a existing construction step is 8-inches. The step in the picture to get into and out of this electrical room is about 20-inches.

There is nothing in the Life Safety Code that excludes mechanical rooms, or electrical rooms from having to comply with the requirements for a maximum rise in the step.

In this situation, it was going to be difficult to install a set of steps because this opening to the electrical room is directly off of the drive to the receiving dock.

Strange Observations – Monitor Leads in the OR

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

When I consult at a hospital or an ambulatory surgical center, I always gown-up and take a tour of the operating rooms… the vacant operating rooms, of course. I have no desire to enter an OR that has an active case, nor would I be allowed to enter.

This picture is of an operating room table that I was told was waiting for the patient to arrive. Can you see what is laying on the floor…? Those are leads to the medical equipment to monitor the patient.

While this is not a Life Safety Code issue, it is a serious Infection Control issue. You cannot have monitor leads lying on the floor that will be used on a patient. Show this to your Infection Control specialist at your facility, and ask them what they think.

Strange Observations – No ‘NO EXIT’ Sign

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

The door in the picture is to a courtyard where patients may go and enjoy the out-of-doors. The problem is, there is no ‘NO EXIT’ sign on the door, and in my opinion the door could be confused for an exit door.

The size and make-up of the ‘NO EXIT’ sign is very specific: The word “NO” must be 2-inches tall, and the word “EXIT” must be 1-inch tall. The word “NO” must be over the top of the word “EXIT”.

The reason the word “EXIT” is smaller than the word “NO” is the technical committee who wrote that portion of the Life Safety Code wanted people to read the word “NO” before they read the word “EXIT” while approaching the door.

Strange Observations – Sprinkler in the Alcove

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

The good news is you have an alcove in the corridor where you can store linen carts. The bad news is a sprinkler head was installed in the alcove preventing you from storing linen carts.

In this photo, the top of the linen cart is too close to the sprinkler deflector. You must maintain at least 18-inches clearance underneath the sprinkler head.

I’m not an expert on sprinkler design, but I suspect they would not need a sprinkler head in the alcove, if another sprinkler head was in close proximity.

Strange Observations – Wall Mounted Signs

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

The discharge door for a stairwell opened out onto the 1st floor corridor, where egress was just down the corridor. (This is permitted by section 7.7.2 of the 2012 LSC, provided they met all of the other requirements).

As the picture indicates, when the stairwell door is fully opened, it sticks out into the corridor about half the width of the door. This can cause a momentary obstruction to people in the corridor when the door is open.

The facilities department thought it would be a good idea to warn people that the door may be a problem when open and created this sign on a swivel that warns people. To be sure, the sign does swing if anyone came into contact with it, but when it is in its normal position, it projected more than 4-inches into the corridor.

Even though the intentions for the sign were good, it does violate the maximum 4-inch corridor projection rule adopted by CMS, and therefore it was written up.

Strange Observations – Ceiling Penetrations

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

This picture was taken in an electrical room. Where the conduits extend upwards and penetrate the suspended ceiling, the gaps around the conduits are too large.

Most surveyors will use the NFPA 80 maximum 1/8-inch gap rule fire door clearance to frames as a standard for the maximum gap around conduit penetrations, where the ceiling is required to act as a membrane for smoke detectors or sprinkler heads.

In situations like this, the easiest and best solution is to remove the suspended ceiling from the electrical room, and relocate the lights in the ceiling to the deck above.

Strange Observations – Combustible Materials in Structural Support

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

So… I’m above a ceiling in a pre-assessment testing area and I see in the corner what appears to be a wood 2×4.

According to NFPA 220, construction types I and II cannot have combustible material in the structural components. (This hospital was a Type II (222).

This wood 2×4 is supporting an interior wall and the suspended ceiling.

You have to keep an eye on contractors while they are renovating your departments… they will do things like this that will eventually get you in trouble.