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Life Safety Code Update Brings Varied, Small Changes to Healthcare Facilities

Today's tip covers some of the changes health care facilities can expect when Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and The Joint Commission adopt NFPA's 2012 Life Safety Code (LSC). This information comes from Tom Gardner, principal with The Protection Engineering Group, who presented on the topic at the NFPA Conference and Expo in Chicago.

Gardner says there are lots of little changes and some big ones coming to health care facilities, but for the most part complying with them shouldn't be onerous. In fact, health care facilities probably are already complying with most of them, as local jurisdictions may have already adopted these later versions of code. At any rate, they're all good changes, he says.

Here are 8 areas impacted by the adoption of the 2012 LSC.

  1. Privacy curtain hanging height (NFPA 13)
  2. Compact storage systems (NFPA 13). These are now defined and could require light hazard protection.
  3. Electrically locked doors (NFPA 72). Direction of egress is important to compliance now.
  4. Incident commander at a fire event will now decide when to reset the electrically locked doors. (NFPA 72)
  5. Evacuation signal in exit enclosures (NFPA 72). No longer obligatory. However, could still be desirable in hardened stairwells, especially with tailored messaging, says Gardner.
  6. Pathway survivability (NFPA 72). The pathway and emergency communication system now only have to be rated to survive for as long as the general building is meant to survive.
  7. Fire pumps (NFPA 20). Variable speed controllers for fire pumps are now allowed. This makes obsolete the usage of relief valves.
  8. Special considerations for hospitals in NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.


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