With the constant commotion that is commonly found in medical facilities, staying within fire code compliance can be difficult. Whether you work in a large and facility such as a hospital or a family physician’s office, there are many potential fire safety issues, as well as numerous fire code violations that are often hidden to the naked eye. From burned out light bulbs or exit signs to missing ceiling tiles, there are a variety of fire codes that all medical facilities must follow, as it is crucial for the safety of all patients, workers, and visitors.
Fire Compliance and Safety in Medical Facilities
Ensuring that your facility is staying up to date with local fire code compliance can be a headache, but, with so many lives on the line, we thought we would take the time to discuss a few fire code violations that often go overseen and how staying in compliance could save your medical facility from future violations and protect occupants in the case that a fire does occur.
Clearly Mark and De-Clutter All Exits
Fire exits are among some of the areas that are used very infrequently, but if a fire emergency ever occurs, people need to be able to get out as quickly and safely as possible. These exits are the difference between life and death. However, most fire marshals find that this is often one of the most common violations seen in medical facilities as many emergency exits are blocked by carts, wheelchairs, and medical appliances.
Cluttered corridors and exits make it extremely difficult for patients in wheelchairs to be wheeled out to safety and, in an emergency situation, staff members will not have the time to move obstructions from doorways. Fire exits are an integral part of a medical facility’s safety plan and can save lives in the event of an emergency.
Ensuring that all of your fire exits are de-cluttered and easily accessible is one of the first things you should check for in regards to fire code compliance. Fire code compliance states that all building exits should be free of furnishings, equipment, and decorations. Exit doors in a medical facility must also open readily from the other side without the use of a key or extreme effort, and emergency lights and exit signs must properly illuminate in both normal and emergency power modes. Lastly, aisles, pathways, walkways, and stairwells leading to an exit must also be clear of obstructions.
Maintain Emergency Vehicle Access
In the event of a fire emergency, it’s essential that unobstructed access to the medical facility is provided to all emergency vehicles as any obstructions can possibly delay or prevent the emergency response teams from proceeding.
Fire code compliance states that the street address of the medical facility must be clearly marked and visible on the building with tenant space/suite numbers placed above the front door and on the rear door in black or contrasting lettering.
Fire lane signs with a height of 7’ to the bottom of signpost must be placed in 25-foot intervals with red letters on a white background centered on a 12” by 18” sign stating: NO PARKING – FIRE LANE. If signs cannot be placed, you may also paint the curb with red or yellow paint along the entire distance of the fire department access. Letters stating “NO PARKING – FIRE LANE” shall be stenciled on the asphalt at 25-foot intervals.
The fire lane itself must be a minimum width of 20 feet and may be increased based upon specific department operations with alternative designs being approved by a local fire code official on a case-by-case basis.
Install a Professional Fire Alarm System
Fire detectors not only help prevent injuries and minimize facility damage, but they are also one of the best and least expensive ways to give your business an early warning should a fire emergency ever occur.
No single fire alarm solution will fit the needs of all medical facilities as the best fire alarm system for your facility is designed and engineered to meet your specific needs. Ionization detectors detect and respond to small amounts of smoke that is often produced by flaming fires, thermal detectors are designed to detect temperature changes of less than one degree Celsius, and photoelectric detectors are specifically designed to use light sensors to detect smoke patterns that originate from slow burning fires.
All medical facilities vary in layout and style, and there are a number of different types of fire alarm systems and services you can install in your building. However, no matter which system you choose to install, having a professional fire alarm system installed in your medical facility will save lives.
At TED Systems we are leaders in fire alarm system installation and maintenance for commercial buildings in the Kansas City area. Our team is well versed in what it takes to install a fire alarm system that is not only compliant but also effective in case an emergency does occur.