Stand-alone health care buildings: Fire and life safety

Stand-alone medical buildings and specialized treatment facilities are engineering challenges, and more are being designed and built due to changes in health care requirements. Here’s a look at fire and life safety systems.


Neal Boothe, PE, Principal, exp, Maitland, Fla. Courtesy: expDouglas T. Calhoun, PE, Senior Vice President, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (formerly ccrd), Dallas. Courtesy: WSP | Parsons BrinckerhoffCaleb Haynes, PE, Principal/Director, TME LLC, Birmingham, Ala. Courtesy: TME LLC

Brian Kolm, PE, Team Leader, Mechanical, HDR Inc., Omaha, Neb. Courtesy: HDR Inc.Craig Kos, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Environmental Systems Design Inc., Chicago. Courtesy: Environmental Systems Design Inc.Bryan Laginess, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Peter Basso Associates, Troy, Mich. Courtesy: Peter Basso Associates


Neal Boothe, PE, Principal, exp, Maitland, Fla.

Douglas T. Calhoun, PE, Senior Vice President, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff (formerly ccrd), Dallas

Caleb Haynes, PE, Principal/Director, TME LLC, Birmingham, Ala.

Brian Kolm, PE, Team Leader, Mechanical, HDR Inc., Omaha, Neb.

Craig Kos, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Environmental Systems Design Inc., Chicago

Bryan Laginess, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Peter Basso Associates, Troy, Mich.


CSE: Describe any unusual detection, suppression, and notification systems you've specified in such projects. What drove the design?

Kolm: Specialized treatment facilities with expensive medical equipment will typically include an air-sampling supplementary fire-detection system for a pre-action. Pre-action systems provide the benefit of protecting expensive and sensitive equipment from false actuation.

Boothe: Often in imaging spaces (especially MRI and CT scan rooms), we have used a dry pipe system for fire sprinklers. This uses an air compressor to keep air in the sprinkler lines (instead of water) so that any leak in the system would not cause undesired water damage to the system. In the event of a fire, smoke and/or heat detectors will sense an issue earlier than the sprinkler heads and will activate and send signals to control equipment. When this occurs, the air compressor is shut off to "bleed" the air out of the sprinkler lines. This would allow water needed for a "real" fire.


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