ICC safety code updates have big impact on hospitals

The International Code Council (ICC) has recently approved several proposals for the 2015 edition of the International Building Code with direct repercussions for hospitals.

By Healthcare Facilities Today
February 20, 2013

The International Code Council (ICC) has recently approved several proposals for the 2015 edition of the International Building Code with direct repercussions for hospitals. The proposals were formulated by the ICC ad hoc Committee on Health Care, a joint effort by the ICC and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE).

The adopted changes stand to save the healthcare industry billions of dollars from avoiding compliance with "unnecessary, outdated and conflicting codes," says a Health Facilities Management magazine article.

The article pulls out several proposals as having particular impact for healthcare. For example, hospitals will be exempt from smoke dampers if the hospital fulfills other requirements, such as maintaining an automatic quick-response sprinkler system. This provision by itself is projected to save an Arkansas hospital over $117,000 in avoided costs in a planned replacement facility, the article says.  

Another approved proposal was increasing smoke compartment size from 22,500 square feet to 40,000 square feet, which was based on the updated travel distance of 200 feet, up from 150 feet.

Two accepted proposals have to do with door locks. In one, there is an exemption to the rule that doors have to automatically unlock upon fire detection or sprinkler system activation. The exemption is for spaces where control systems are in place to prevent the abduction of children. This helps avoid the situation where an abductor falsely sets off the fire alarm in order to override door locks. The need for egress in case of actual emergency is still addressed by NFPA 101, through delayed egress components.

The other door lock proposal that will go into effect with the 2015 code is an exemption to the required signage on delayed egress locks. The signs directing an individual to push on the door until the alarm sounds to exit would not be required in spaces where such would interfere with patient safety, such as in the case of Alzheimer's patients, says the article.

Read the article.

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