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May 10, 2013 — Leave a comment




In April, at the ICC Committee Action Hearings in Dallas, the Patient Fire Safety Coalition spoke out against four code change proposals brought forth by the AdHoc Healthcare Committee.

  1. F212-13 – 1103.1;1104.1, “…the existing fire resistance ratings, opening protectives, penetrations, and joints in assemblies are not required to be maintained…”  
  2. F218-13 – 1103.4.1, “…glass walls shall be considered to be equivalent to 1-hour fire-resistance rated construction…”
  3. F239-13 – 1105.3.2, “Unless required elsewhere in the code, corridor 
  4. walls are not required to have a fire-resistance rating.”
  5. F241-13 – 1105.5.2, “Existing smoke barriers with a minimum of 1/2-hour fire-resistance rating are permitted to remain.”

Two of these changes were successfully disapproved and two were not (view all the results here)

  1. F212-13: Disapproved, 11-1
  2. F218-13: Disapproved, 13-1
  3. F239-13: Approved as Submitted, 12-0
  4. F241-13: Approved as Modified, 12-0

In October, at the ICC Annual Conference and Public Comment Hearing, the Healthcare industry will attempt to finalize and make permanent code changes F239-13 and F241-13.  Once again, we will be speaking in opposition to these changes as they currently stand, and will be seeking code officials and AHJ’s to stand with us in opposition to these changes.

In Dallas, we were able to make contact with several members of the AdHoc Healthcare Committee. We look forward to the potential of initiating  conversation regarding these proposed code changes.  Hopefully, together, we can accomplish our common goal of patient fire safety and create code language that accurately portrays that intent.


Speak out for Healthcare Fire Safety!

Are you attending the ICC Committee Action hearings in Dallas?

Download important information about proposed changes to the International Fire Code that seek to reduce safety in hospitals.


The International Firestop Council has published a brochure, Move America’s Healthcare Fire Safety Forward, to bring attention to the potentially harmful code change proposals to be presented by the healthcare industry.  At the International Code Council Fire Code Action Hearings, the hospital industry, through the ICC AHC, will introduce code change proposals to the IFC designed to simplify and streamline the constraints under which healthcare facilities operate.  We believe that most of them are very good and will assist code enforcement in healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, among those other worthwhile proposals, there are a few that would be quite contrary to the goals of a fire safe hospital environment.


The International Firestop Council is confident that the various stakeholders can better work together to provide optimized solutions that balance healthcare operational considerations with patient and worker fire safety.  Code change proposals F212-13, F218-13, and F239-13 are flawed ideas which concerned individuals need to speak out against at the Committee Action hearing.

The International Firestop Council, along with the Patient Fire Safety Coalition, is calling all code officials dedicated to public safety to step up to the mic and let your voice be heard in Dallas, on April 23-25.









When a fire occurs that results in death, it is very rare to find that the victims died due to actual fire or flame impingement.  Much more common is death by smoke.  When items begin to burn the particles they are made up of begin to break down (this is smoke), and those particles become toxic.  There are three ways that smoke can kill a person:

  1. Particles. Tiny, burned, unburned, and partially burned substances penetrate into the respiratory system and lodge into the lungs.  Some of these particles can be toxic, they can cause respiratory functions to cease,  or they can be super-heated causing the lungs to burn and fail.
  2. Vapors. Fog-like droplets that poison the body if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
  3. Toxic gases.  Carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and phosgene are the most common types found in fires.  These gases are all put off by common household items that we all may have; items such as plastic, foam, and vinyl. These gases displace the oxygen in your bloodstream, or bond to it leading to death.

This short video shows the importance of utilizing products and assemblies that prevent the spread of smoke:

The health care industry continues to fight for the removal and neglect of these smoke barriers. Think of the lives that could be affected if smoke from even a small fire is allowed to move freely through the corridors and rooms of a one of these facilities.  Lives that could have been saved by nothing more than a rated smoke barrier, may now be lost due to the harmful effects of smoke that was permitted to move uninhibited throughout the space.

Stand with the Patient Fire Safety Coalition on April 21-30, 2013 in Dallas to oppose these code change proposals and be a voice for those who may not have one.


The National Fire Protection Association’s study, U.S. Experience With Sprinklers, shows that fire sprinkler systems are only effective about 90% of the time. By reviewing fire loss data, examining investigative fire reports, and researching fire and building history, the National Fire Protection Association was able to catalogue all the reasons that fire sprinklers fail.  The majority of fire sprinkler failures fall into one of these four categories:

  1. Failure to maintain operational status of the system.
  2.  Failure to assure adequacy of system and/or the complete coverage of the current hazard.
  3.  Defects affecting, but not involving, the sprinkler system.
  4.  Inadequate performance by the sprinkler system itself.

Failure to maintain operational status of the system. It goes without saying, an adequate water supply is an essential and critical part of any sprinkler system.  Yet, this is the primary cause of fire sprinkler failure.  The water supply valve could be shut-down for any variety of reasons, including routine maintenance, building construction/demolition, system impairment, or improper valve installation.  With any portion of the sprinkler system out of service (for any length of time), the smallest fire will quickly grow beyond the sprinkler systems capabilities.

Failure to assure adequacy of the system or complete and accurate coverage of the current hazard. Every sprinkler system is designed to protect a certain type of hazard based on a buildings proposed use.  Over time the use of the facility, or certain areas of, may change, or the hazard may increase due to the types of material being used or stored.  A sprinkler system designed for an ordinary hazard will quickly be overcome and disabled against a fire involving high hazard contents.

Defects affecting, but not involving, the sprinkler system. These include changes to the water distribution system, faulty building construction, and lack of compartmentation.  R. Thomas Long, Jr., P.E. in his article for Fire Protection Engineering states,

 Compartmentation of hazards through the use of fire barriers and walls is a fire protection strategy in itself, but physical separations can play a role in the effectiveness of the sprinkler system.  High hazard areas in buildings can be segregated by fire-resistance-rated construction.  The concept is to contain the fire in the compartment and prevent spread outward…Vigilance is necessary in maintaining passive fire protection compartmentation, not only to prevent the spread of fire, but to also improve the effectiveness of the sprinkler system in the area of fire involvement.

Inadequate performance by the sprinkler system itself.  This is the most rare cause of fire sprinkler system failure, a defect in the system itself, component damage, or failure to properly activate.  These incidents most commonly occur as a consequence of a fire.  Overall sprinkler system components are extremely reliable.

With a fire sprinkler success rate of only 90%, there is only one solution for protecting those that “are not capable of self preservation”, balanced fire protection. We need fire sprinkler systems, we need fire rated wall and corridor assemblies, and we must maintain smoke barriers.  It is only in this balanced approach to fire protection that makes survivability in fire emergencies possible.