One of the core elements of maintaining your accreditation rests in Life Safety and Environment of Care Standards. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, including Interim Life Safety Measures (ILSM). This regards the maintenance of fire and disaster warning and monitoring systems, as well as routes of egress. You can see each requirement on the Joint Commission checklist here. In building reports for hospitals, we sometimes come across additional questions.
Temporary Barrier Requirements
One of the most confusing areas is under the ILSM. It regards having “smoke tight non-combustible temporary barriers.” That’s a bit confusing. What exactly constitutes a smoke tight non-combustible temporary barrier?
This is a good question because not everyone is familiar with the standards used. A temporary barrier of this type does not include unrated plastic sheets or construction barriers designed to stop dust. It does not include infection control partitions.
Different than Construction Standards
You may think temporary barriers used by construction companies are appropriate, but these are often designed with preventing the spread of construction dust. While they can limit the spread of particulate that may start a fire, they aren’t rated for stopping a fire that’s already begun. It’s this last part that concerns the ILSM most.
Plastic sheets of rated material can be used in relation to short-term applications, but they aren’t long-term solutions. They’re good to have as extra material, but they will not dependably fulfill the ILSM requirement.
The Right Materials
For this, you’ll want to focus on sheet rock and gypsum board barriers that are rated for limited combustibility. These are barriers that can block and slow a fire effectively, allowing additional time for patients to be moved out of harm’s way.
You should be able to provide evidence of the ratings of any material you’re using for temporary barriers upon inspection. If a material does not have a rating such as this, there’s a good chance it won’t fulfill the requirement.
The ILSM is filled with details like this, and it’s just one section of the Joint Commission’s requirements. There’s good reason for these details. Most of the requirements are there because there was a time when their absence cost lives. Building reports for hospitals can help ensure that details such as this are covered so your patients and personnel are safe and that your facility maintains accreditation.