Storage Room in a Lab
by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Jul 16, 2021 1:00:00 AM
Q: We have a storage room in our laboratory which is located in a business occupancy, and is over 100 square feet. It is fully sprinkled and has a hard ceiling of 5/8" drywall with fire/smoke dampers installed. The walls however are rated but only go to the hard ceiling not to deck. I'm being told that this is not correct and I'm required to bring the walls up past the ceiling to deck for this to be a storage room. I say the hazard is contained inside the room. What are your thoughts?
A: Based on what you’ve told me (business occupancy, storage room, fully sprinklered), the walls are not required to be fire-rated at all. According to section 39.3.2 of the 2012 Life Safety Code, areas used for storage are required to comply with section 8.7.
Section 126.96.36.199 says the room must be one of the following:
- Enclosed with fire-rated barriers with 1-hour fire-rated construction;
- Protected with automatic sprinklers;
- Protected with both 1-hour construction and sprinklers if the hazard is severe.
A severe hazard by NFPA definition is a hazard that has explosive capabilities, which is not found in a healthcare setting. So, the conclusion is, the room is just fine the way it is because the room is protected with sprinklers.
Now, Joint Commission just issued new standards for Business Occupancies in 2021. Their standard LS.05.01.30, EP 1 says hazardous areas in business occupancies are protected from other areas by a one-hour fire-rated barrier, with 45-minute fire-rated door assemblies, OR by smoke resistive barriers and automatic sprinklers. Doors must be self-closing and positive latching. Their requirement for smoke resistant barriers and sprinklers is beyond what NFPA requires, so please be aware of that if you are Joint Commission accredited.