Fire Alarm Activation for Fire Drills in Business Occupancies

Q: I’m responsible for doing annual fire drills in our ambulatory surgery center located in a building. Some of the occupants are physician’s offices and some are other medical testing services. I can find nothing in NFPA 101, 2012: 4.7 or in 38 or 39 New or Existing Business Occupancy. Can you help with the code requiring alarm activation?

A: Well… according to NFPA Life Safety Code, there are no requirements to activate the fire alarm system during a drill for business occupancies. Where the confusion comes into play, most accreditation organizations requires ambulatory surgery centers to  follow the ASC requirements regarding operations. The healthcare occupancy chapter requires activation of the fire alarm system for fire drills, and some surveyors likely require the same for any ASC to comply. If they are requiring the fire alarm system to be activated during a fire drill for an ambulatory surgery center located in a business occupancy, that would be a mistake by my opinion. This is an easy mistake for a surveyor to make, as all other aspects of the ambulatory surgery center must comply. So, I can see how a surveyor could expect the fire alarm system to be activated for a fire drill in an ambulatory surgery center.

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