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      Change in Occupancy Classification

      by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Jul 15, 2021 1:00:00 AM

      Q: The Emergency Department located on the first floor of our hospital is currently designated as an ambulatory healthcare occupancy. We are wanting to create an in-patient unit within the existing ED. This section of the ED is completely separated by a 2-hour, fire-rated barrier and fully sprinklered. One of the exits from the unit egresses into an egress corridor and the second into an existing suite within the ED. What would be the process for and do you see any issues with upgrading this section to a healthcare occupancy?

      A: According to section of the 2012 Life Safety Code, if you are changing the occupancy classification from Ambulatory Healthcare to Healthcare, the area that is being changed must meet the new construction requirements in Chapter 18 for Healthcare Occupancies.

      What this means to you is:

      • The area must be protected with sprinklers (you already have this covered).
      • The minimum construction type is now Type II (222), but it seems you have this covered.
      • Egress corridors must be at least 8 feet wide, where they could possibly be used by inpatients.
      • The egress corridors must be separated from all other areas, except as allowed in
      • The maximum size of suites are now limited to a certain square footage in accordance with, whereas in Ambulatory Healthcare Occupancies, they were not.
      • You now have different requirements for smoke compartments (section 18.3.7) that you need to make sure you still comply.
      • Minimum door widths for all doors is now 41 ½ inches, where it was 32 inches for Ambulatory Healthcare Occupancies.

      Readers, if you would like a free copy of a document that identifies the Life Safety Code differences between Healthcare, Ambulatory Healthcare, and Business Occupancies, please send an email to and put ‘Occ Change’ in the subject line.

      Topics: Healthcare Occupancy

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