Fire Extinguisher Requirements For Healthcare

Providing a safety standard for healthcare facilities can be challenging because healthcare facilities contain operating rooms that need to maintain a sterile environment and imaging rooms with sensitive equipment. Telecommunications rooms also require fire safety measures that will not destroy computers and other devices.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) released 99 standards that were updated in 2018 to specify the required type of fire extinguisher to be used in different areas of healthcare facilities. Certain fire extinguishers can disrupt or destroy the functionality of some devices in healthcare facilities.

NFPA 99 standards clarify any that rooms that contain MRI scanners or other magnetic imaging devices must have non-conductive fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers for rooms with these devices must be non-ferrous, which means they are not affected by magnetic fields. MRI scanners run on extremely high voltages and generate very strong magnetic fields, making conductive fire extinguishers a potential risk.

NFPA 99 also requires that healthcare facilities must provide Type K portable fire extinguishers in areas where other fire extinguishers could negatively react to ingredients in cooking areas. Type K fire extinguishers don’t react to combustible cooking oils and fats. This measure has been included in kitchen fire protection safety standards for some time.  It has only recently extended to healthcare facilities. In addition, automatic fire suppression systems are also required to protect cooking appliances.

NFPA 99 also requires healthcare facilities to provide clean agent portable fire extinguishers for telecommunications equipment rooms. Clean agent fire extinguishers are non-conductive and gaseous fire extinguishers that do not leave a residue upon evaporation. The revised NFPA 99 standards require clean agent fire extinguishers because water fire extinguishers can destroy sensitive electronic equipment that stores information about patients and the hospital.

The revised standards also require operating rooms to use water-mist or clean agent portable fire extinguishers to maintain the required sterile environment of the room. 

If you would like more information on Suppression Systems for Health Care facilities, please call Reliable Fire & Security at 708.597.4600.   

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