Inside ASHE - Winter 2012 - (Page 14)
By Deanna Martin, ASHE senior communications specialist
he health care industry recently celebrated major successes when the International Code Council (ICC) approved code changes that will save health care facilities time and money—an especially important accomplishment in an economic environment where every dollar counts. The changes, adopted into the 2015 edition of the International Building Code®, are just one step on the path toward the ultimate goal of one set of unified codes regulating the health care physical environment. While there is still more work to be done, the recent ICC victories mark progress toward streamlined codes that provide optimal levels of safety without wasting valuable hospital resources. “We’ve been working for more than three years on these proposals,” said ASHE Director of Codes and Standards Chad Beebe, AIA, SASHE. “We know the changes will have a big impact on hospitals around the country.” For example, the proposal exempting hospitals from a requirement for duct smoke dampers will save hospitals the cost of the dampers along with maintenance costs. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) reports that the recent passage of that proposal will allow it to avoid costs of $117,450 by not having to put dampers into a proposed replacement building. UAMS estimates the cost avoidance from that proposal alone is $0.81 per square foot of all new construction. The smoke damper proposal was one of many suggestions that resulted from a partnership between ASHE and the ICC. The two organizations recognized that updating codes and standards in health care is important because rapid technological and policy changes have vastly improved health care safety in the decades since many code provisions were first written. Older codes may not recognize these developments, leaving health care facilities to deal with outdated, overlapping, and conflicting codes. ASHE estimates that the health care industry spends billions of dollars a year dealing with these issues, and advocates for more unified codes point out that every dollar spent on unnecessary codes is a dollar not spent on patient care. Last year, the ICC created an Ad Hoc Committee on Health Care, a group made up of fire officials, architects, building officials, hospital leaders, facilities managers, engineers, and ASHE members. So in October, the full ICC held final action hearings to determine the fate of the proposals as part of its code development cycle.
14 INSIDE ASHE | WINTER 2012
Proposals that were approved include:
This proposal will exempt hospitals from requirements for duct smoke dampers if the hospital meets certain conditions, such as being equipped with automatic, quick response sprinklers, and having a fully ducted HVAC system. Smoke dampers are not required by other model codes in this situation and have shown a history of success without additional dampers.
This proposal allows an increase in the maximum smoke compartment size from 22,500 square feet to 40,000 square feet. The current maximum is based on an old travel distance requirement of 150 feet (150 feet x 150 feet). This proposal simply updates that requirement using the current 200-foot travel distance. The change accommodates the needs of a modern hospital, where patient rooms have expanded to hold more equipment but the number of occupants in the space has not increased.
Delayed egress locks
Facilities using delayed egress locks are required to post signs near the door with instructions stating that the door should be pushed until an alarm sounds to open. This proposal will allow an exemption to that requirement for hospitals in instances where posting such a sign would interfere with patient safety. This exemption is needed to protect patients such as first stage Alzheimer’s patients who can still read but may wander away from the facility if they open the doors alone.
Door locks and child abductions
Doors are required to unlock if the automatic sprinkler system or fire detection system is set off, but this proposal allows an exemption to that rule in areas where egress control systems are used to prevent the abduction of infants and children. This could help prevent infant or child abduction in cases where the abductor sets off the fire alarm as a distraction and way to get doors open. NFPA 101 currently has provisions for delayed egress components that could be integrated into an infant abduction system—these would still provide for emergency evacuation while slowing the progress of an abduction.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Inside ASHE - Winter 2012
Letter from the President
Beyond Fixing Boxes
Implications of the New OR Humidity Range and HEPA Filtration
Inside ASHE - Winter 2012