by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Jun 29, 2020 12:00:00 AM
Q: We are currently in the process of installing a new fire alarm system in our hospital. The old system has an annunciator panel at every nurse station and multiple locations throughout the building. Is it required by code to have annunciator panels at every nurse station? Our telephone operators monitor the fire alarm panel 24/7.
A: Section 220.127.116.11.3 of the 2012 LSC says only the attendants and other personnel required to evacuate occupants from a zone, area, floor, or building shall be required to be notified. The notification is required to include means to readily identify the zone, area, floor, or building in need of evacuation.
If the facility has patient rooms with smoke detectors and one of those activates, the nursing staff of the affected area is integral to the response, so the ‘readily’ portion of that requirement may mean an annunciator at the nurse station if the facility uses a coded system. Most nurses aren’t familiar with what the codes mean, so the code may not provide the best response to an emergency situation in patient areas. That doesn’t mean coded systems have to have annunciators at nurse stations, but the intent of notification is to safeguard immobile patients & response time is critical. Again, this mostly applies to healthcare facilities with detectors in patient rooms. If that’s the case here, they should review what their response is without nurse station annunciation and determine whether that provides the proper response.