Focus: Fire-Life Safety / Column

Regulations, Codes & Standards Q&A: Stairwell storage

By Brad Keyes / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
November 20, 2019

Q: My question relates to storage in stairwells. Emergency Management is requesting patient transfer devices, (Sleds and Stair Chairs) be stored in the stairwell. This would locate the device where it is needed in an emergency. Is this allowed?

A: No, it is not. Section of the 2012 LSC says exit enclosures (i.e. stairwells) cannot be used for any purpose that has the potential to interfere with its use as an exit. The Annex section of says the intent is that the exit enclosure essentially be ‘sterile’ with respect to fire safety hazards.

The AHJs discussed this at a past HITF meeting and the overwhelming position was a sled or evacuation chair stored in the stairwell would impede egress in an emergency as the person who is attempting to retrieve the evacuation chair from the stairwell would have to travel against the flow of traffic of people trying to egress out and down through the stairwell.

The bottom line: Nothing may be stored in the stairwells. The evacuation chairs will have to be stored elsewhere, and not in the corridors.

Brad Keyes, CHSP, is the owner of KEYES Life Safety Compliance, and his expertise is in the management of the Life Safety Program, including the Environment of Care and Emergency Management programs.


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