Designing fire/life safety systems in health care buildings
AIA CES LU|HSW approved LU available for attendees upon successful completion of an exam
Both active and passive fire protection systems are specified to ensure the safety and well-being of health care building occupants in case of a fire. As in most industries, the safety of people comes first and property protection is secondary. Protecting the occupants of the hospital or health care building from the effects of fire is the primary objective in the majority of cases; engineers should be aware of the contents and intent of the building when specifying fire detection, notification and suppression systems.
Fire detection systems are required at varying levels in health care facilities. Based on the building contents, the occupancy and the minimum requirements within the codes and standards, fire protection engineers must know which products and systems will best support the owner’s needs and authority having jurisdiction’s requirements.
Notification appliances must be included in the design to ensure building occupants are notified and safely and efficiently evacuated (if necessary). Understanding which systems are most appropriate for a hospital is paramount to guaranteeing the safe evacuation of building occupants, if deemed necessary and possible.
Suppression systems, such as fire sprinklers or clean agent systems, also will be discussed to assist the engineer in selecting the correct systems to specify.
- Explain the minimum building codes that govern fire detection, notification and suppression systems, such as the International Building Code and a variety of NFPA codes and standards.
- Assess the various active fire protection and suppression systems available and which ones are appropriate to specify in hospital design.
- Learn about mass notification systems to alert the occupants and first responders (includes a brief discussion of NFPA 72, including MNS and emergency communication systems).
- Apply this knowledge by reviewing recent fire/life safety protection design examples in hospitals.
William Koffel, PE, FSFPE, president, Koffel Associates Inc., Columbia, Md.
Jonathan Sajdak, PE, senior associate/fire protection engineer, Page, Houston
Amara Rozgus, Content Manager, CFE Media and Technology