Hospitals are busy places with a lot of activity happening at all times. With the ongoing chaos, being in compliance with fire code guidelines can be a real challenge, and one this is easy to overlook. There are a lot of common fire codeviolations hospitals fall victim to. Understanding these common violations can help put your hospital in a better position to protect your patients, visitors, and staff.
Extension Cords Everywhere
One of the most common things you see at a hospital is excessive use of extension cords. If the fire marshal or Joint Commission (JACHO) were inspecting a hospital and saw extension cords in a disorderly manner or going across floors, he/she would immediately point it out and potentially issue a citation. The risk with extension cords increases when you have power strips connected to other power strips; otherwise known as daisy chaining. Daisy chaining poses a very serious
electrical hazard. Oftentimes when fires occur in homes, businesses, and hospitals, the source is poor electrical wiring or configuration. The risk of citations in this area, and worse, a fire, can be avoided by thoughtful use and placement of extension cords and other common electrical components.
Blocking of Fire Exits
Are your hospital's fire exits always accessible? Do you have fire exits that have blockages in front of them? If a fire marshal or Joint Commission (JACHO) were looking for fire exits and discovered they were not usable in the event of an emergency, this would result in an immediate violation. A clear path to fire exits must always be available so that, in the event of a fire, the building's occupants can quickly and safely exit the building.
Believe it or not, one of the common code violation risks in hospitals involves hand sanitizer dispensers/stations. Since the sanitizer itself is alcohol-based, these dispensers pose a real risk when they sit too close to things such as electrical outlets or light switches. In large amounts, the sanitizer can be dangerous; hence code stipulates the distance that the dispensers need to be situated from electrical sources, as well as how much sanitizer can be present in a specific area.
Fire Extinguisher Availability
The availability of portable fire extinguishers is critical as it allows small fires to be brought under control at a moment’s notice. Common code violations involving fire extinguishers revolve around ones that are missing, sitting on the floor, don't have proper signage, are hanging improperly or on the wrong bracket, don't have the proper mount, are the incorrect extinguisher type for hazard, or are blocked and not easily accessible. Of course fire extinguishers are only effective against a fire if they're maintained and in good working order. Fire extinguishers that are past due for inspections will also lead to a potential citation as the extinguishers may no longer function as you need them to in a critical time.
Other Common Violations
Other common violations that we see in hospitals include things such as emergency exits that are labeled incorrectly. You may also have exit lights that no longer illuminate because the bulbs are burned out. Another common violation is sprinkler systems that do not have adequate coverage, have broken heads, or where the heads have been painted over or are covered with other debris.
Being aware of these common violations and proactively avoiding them - not only to remain within compliance with fire safety regulations, but also for the overall safety of your patients, visitors, and staff - is something that hospitals should keep at the forefront at all times.