In this installment of the RTM blog, we focus on emergency power and related code requirements for healthcare facilities.
There are a number of special concerns in sizing an electrical service for healthcare facilities – and emergency power is a key consideration as it provides operational continuity and life-saving patient care during disasters, power outages, or any other event that could cause interruptions to normal electrical service.
Per the healthcare facilities section in the NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC), essential systems include emergency systems and equipment systems defined as the following:
The emergency system is limited to circuits that are essential to life safety and crucial patient care. These are named the life safety branch and the critical branch.
- The life safety branch of the emergency system supplies power to lighting, receptacles and equipment—such as illumination of means of egress and alarm and alerting systems—to provide adequate power needs to ensure safety to patients and personnel. Additionally, HVAC controls are permitted to be on the life safety branch because HVAC operations can impact smoke control and life safety.
- The critical branch of the emergency power supplies power for task illumination, fixed equipment, selected receptacles, and special power circuits serving certain functions and areas—such as nurse call systems and blood, bone and tissue banks—related to patient care. This branch is intended to serve a limited number of locations to reduce the load and minimize the chances of a fault condition.
The equipment system supports the major electrical equipment necessary for basic facility operation and patient care. Examples include central suction systems serving medical and surgical functions, smoke control and stair pressurization systems, and hyperbaric facilities. The code outlines certain equipment for delayed automatic connection, delayed or manual connection, and non-delayed automatic connection to an alternate power source.
Three additional NFPA documents – 1.) NFPA 99, Healthcare Facilities 2.) NFPA 110, Emergency and Standby Power Systems and 3.) NFPA 101, Life Safety Code – address primary issues related to emergency power for hospitals. NFPA 99 establishes criteria for levels of healthcare services or systems based on risk to the patients, staff, or visitors in healthcare facilities to minimize the hazards of fire, explosion, and electricity. NFPA 110 addresses installation, maintenance, operation, and testing requirements for emergency and standby power systems that provide an alternative source of electrical power in facilities if the normal electrical power source fails. NFPA 101 establishes strategies on how to protect people based on building construction, protection and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire or other related hazards. (Source: “NFPA Codes and Standards.” National Fire Protection Association.)
Depending on where the project is located determines which codes to follow. Additionally, healthcare facilities need to adhere to State Department of Health requirements, which can vary state to state. RTM has experience working in a number of cities and states and is adept at determining coding and Department of Health requirements accordingly.