Joint Commission Hazardous Area Requirements

As of July 1, 2021, the Joint Commission’s new life safety chapter covering business occupancies went into effect.

Accredited facilities can now be surveyed within business occupancies for compliance with the Joint Commission life safety standards and NFPA 101, 2012 Edition. One of the key differences between the requirements for a healthcare occupancy and a business or ambulatory care occupancy is the protection of hazardous areas. Designers and facility managers alike should be made aware that the requirements differ based on the occupancy types, placing emphasis on the accuracy of life safety drawings for a facility on survey. Both ambulatory care and business occupancies contain the same requirements for separation of hazardous areas. Hazardous areas including but not limited to areas used for general storage, boiler or furnace rooms, and maintenance shops that include woodworking and painting areas are required to be protected with smoke partitions and doors that are self or automatic closing with latching hardware in a room or space that is fully sprinkler protected (NFPA 101 38/39.3.2, 8.7, 8.4). Note that these separations may be less restrictive than the 1-hour separations required for soiled linen rooms and storage rooms over 100 square feet in new healthcare occupancies in Section 18.3.2. The analysis of what amount of general storage of combustible warrants a hazard is a subjective analysis performed by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).

If you have any questions or would like assistance with determining the best approach for the design of your hazardous storage rooms, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.