Promoting health and wellbeing is the foundation of every healthcare facility. Part of that foundation includes ensuring the safety and security of the facility itself so that healthcare providers can serve their patients in an environment with peace of mind. Healthcare facilities have unique needs when it comes to fire protection due to the unique and sensitive settings within each facility.

For instance, a hospital may contain waiting rooms, exam rooms, office spaces, restrooms, and dining rooms, which would all require fire and life safety solutions that are standard across most other kinds of facilities. But, they also contain operating rooms in which maintaining a sterile environment is of the utmost importance to patient safety, imaging rooms with sensitive magnetic equipment like MRI machines where any metallic objects could interfere with imaging or even cause damage to expensive equipment, and telecommunication rooms that contain powerful servers and data cables that maintain patient records and important information for prescriptions and patient care.  

NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, is being updated in 2018 to help meet these unique challenges by providing specific criteria for fire extinguishers in the unique settings inside healthcare facilities. Earlier editions of NFPA 99 required that all fire extinguishers be installed per the regulations set forth in NFPA 10, but the lack of specific requirements has caused concern that some healthcare facilities may not be installing the most appropriate or effective extinguishers needed for certain hazards.

In the new NFPA 99, operating rooms must now use water mist extinguishers or clean agent extinguishers, such as 11lb and 15.5lb Halotron I or the 13lb and 17lb Amerex Halon 1211 extinguishers. Telecommunication areas within healthcare facilities must now use extinguishers consistent with NFPA 76, Standard for the Fire Protection of Telecommunications Facilities, which prohibits dry chemical extinguishers and requires clean agent extinguishers, such as Halotron I or Halon 1211 with Class A rating. For MRI Centers, where any metallic object could become an airborne projectile due to the powerful magnet within the MRI machine, ferrous metals are strictly prohibited and non-magnetic water mist, dry chemical, or carbon dioxide extinguishers are required.

These new requirements ensure the highest level of safety in healthcare facilities for patients, providers, and the critical equipment they use every day.

Healthcare facilities face stringent regulations and must work diligently to maintain accreditation and certification to demonstrate they meet Joint Commission performance standards. As a Total Solutions Provider, Integrated Fire Protection delivers the confidence that all your Fire and Life Safety needs are covered, creating efficiencies via a streamlined solution, ultimately providing you peace of mind. If you are not sure whether your hospital, doctor’s office, imaging center, medical lab, dental office, or surgery center is in compliance with these new requirements, please contact The Life Safety Professionals at 770-458-8828 or [email protected].