While the healthcare industry continues to work to adopt the 2012 Life Safety Code®, the NFPA 101 Technical Committee on Health Care Occupancies held a meeting in June of 2013 covering the 2nd Revisions to the 2015 Code. Here are some items that may be included in the 2015 Life Safety Code® (Note: these items are not final as they need to go through balloting and member voting in June 2014):
- The 2015 LSC may permit exit doors to be painted with murals in certain situations. We commonly see this in dementia units. Some AHJs permit it while others have not. One of the criteria to permit this will include reference of the doors in the facility fire procedure and staff training.
- Labs may no longer be referenced in the hazardous areas list of Chapters 18 & 19. Rather, there will be references to NFPA 99 and NFPA 45.
- Smoke compartments in new and existing hospitals may increase to 40,000 sq. ft. The 200 ft. travel distance will continue to apply. Therefore, unless it is a very unusual design scenario, this would increase a smoke compartment to 40,000 sq. ft. This should not be used a method to remove multiple smoke barriers in the future. However, it does provide some leniency for facilities in unique situations. The rationale for this change could be applicable to equivalency requests for oversized smoke compartments.
- A comparison of the design guidelines for hospital spaces from 1996 to 2010 was completed. It shows how much more space is required today vs. in the 90’s resulting in a lesser occupant load per smoke compartment.
- Back in 2009, the LSC included a 12 year phased in sprinkler requirement for high rise (75 ft. or higher) healthcare facilities (including hospitals). In 2012, the code kept the 12 year language. However, it stipulated that if you were in a jurisdiction that adopted the 2009 LSC, you really only have 9 years. The 2015 LSC is similar by saying that you have 6 years to be fully sprinklered if your jurisdiction applied the 2009 LSC. In most cases, once CMS adopts the 2012 LSC, high rise hospitals (since nursing homes should all be sprinklered shortly) will require full sprinkler protection in 12 years.
- Chapter 20 and 21 (Ambulatory) may be their own stand-alone chapters vs. referencing much of their info from Business Occupancies.
It is important to note that it may be a decade or more before this edition is adopted by CMS and other accrediting bodies with Deemed Status. However, there are two (2) more immediate applications:
- This information could be utilized to substantiate equivalency / waiver requests.
- Our clients should be aware of what is coming down the pike.