On March 16th, Chris Lynch, Principal with Code Red Consultants joined Sean Gouvin, Director of Facilities Planning & Engineering with Baystate Health, Kirsten Waltz, Principal with Steffian Bradley Architects, and Mike Forth, Project Executive with Suffolk Construction in San Antonio, TX to discuss best practices for cost effective life safety compliance as developed through their experience on the various phases of construction on the Vista award winning Hospital of the Future project at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA. The presentation focused on the process developed to avoid an issue many health care providers deal with: non-compliant life safety conditions cited in a building that recently opened. The key points from the presentation were:
- Developing a proactive procedure at the onset of the project to get all key players at the table to identify any gaps in the design and construction process that could lead to life safety issues.
- Aligning the right team, consisting of the owner, architect, contractor, M/E/P Engineers, and the life safety consultant with clear lines of communication and well defined guiding principles for the project.
- Shifting the perspective for the project from reviewing for minimum code compliance to providing value based code consulting. By integrating the life safety consultant into the design process, opportunities to employ compliance strategies that reduce risk or minimize construction or maintenance costs can be identified. Specific examples include:
- Maximizing the use of suites to minimize the application of corridor regulations
- Coordinating with the HVAC designer and architect on the location of fire and smoke rated walls to reduce the number of costly fire rated doors and dampers.
- Coordinating with the architect and hospital security staff to design areas with security concerns to meet the competing commitments of life safety and security while minimizing the number of special locking arrangements.
- Including the hospital’s facilities department in the design process to educate them on the type and manner of how key life safety features such as firestopping is installed.
- Coordination with sub-contractors to review the manner in which the fire protection and life safety systems they are installing will be tested and inspected prior to installation.
- Performance of site inspections during construction to simulate the regulatory enforcement provided by all the Authorities Having Jurisdiction for the project, including local, state, and the healthcare regulatory agencies such as the Joint Commission or the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The team developed a life safety checklist that identified up to 150 points of failure in the process if one of these key team members fails to perform their role. The case study is a great illustration of how the role of the life safety consultant on a project is evolving as project teams get more integrated. The results are being realized by owners that are experiencing less regulatory issues on new construction projects that are designed more efficiently relative to the construction costs as well as future maintenance. If you would like to know more about this process and how it may benefit you on your next project please feel free to reach out to us.