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Areas of Refuge

by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Jul 15, 2020 1:00:46 AM

Q: I have been asked to install "AREA OF REFUGE" signs on top of the doorframe on both sides on several areas of the hospital. Is there a specific per code required installation location of where exactly the sign needs to be installed and is it required to have braille?

A: Section of the 2012 LSC says where areas of refuge are used as part of a required means of egress, then it must comply with 7.2.12. Section 7.2.12 requires:

  • Each elevator landing to have a two-way communication system between the elevator landing and the fire command center.
  • Directions for the use of the two-way communication system.
  • Instructions for summoning assistance via the two-way communication system.
  • Written identification of the location posted adjacent to the two-way communication system.
  • The two-way communication system must include both audible and visible signals.

Then there are other requirements, specifically section which says each area of refuge must be identified by a sign that reads “AREA OF REFUGE”. The sign is required to conform to ANSI A117.1. The sign must be posted at each door opening providing access to the area of refuge, and where necessary to indicate clearly the direction to an area of refuge. Section says the sign must be illuminated as required for exit signs where exit signage illumination is required, and section requires the sign to be tactile.

Now, all of the above is required if the area of refuge is used as part of the required means of egress. Otherwise, the area of refuge is unregulated. Many hospitals identify the adjacent smoke compartment as the area of refuge, and if the adjacent smoke compartment has an area that is not part of the required means of egress then there is no requirement to identify it and to provide two-communication systems. I don’t see any findings on this issue by CMS or the accreditation organizations, probably because it’s not a well-known or well-understood issue in hospitals since they are required to have smoke compartments.

Topics:Life Safety Code

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