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System for Fire Safety Evaluation of Health Care Facilities.



Harold E. Nelson, A J. Shibe


A quantitative evaluation system for grading health care facilities in terms of fire safety is described. The system can be used to determine how combinations of widely accepted fire safety equipment and building construction features may provide a level of safety equivalent to that required by the widely accepted Life Safety Code of the National Fire Protection Association. The system will provide flexibility to both the designer of new facilities and to the renovator of existing health care facilities. Three major concepts form the basis for code equivalency: a. Occupancy Risk--the number of people affected by a given fire, the level of fire they are likely to encounter and their ability to protect themselves; b. Building Safety Features--the ability of the building and its fire protection systems to provide measures of safety commensurate with the risk; c. Safety Redundancy-in-depth protection, through the simultaneous use of alternative safety methodologies such as containment, extinguishment, and people movement methodologies. The design of the complete fire safety system is intended to ensure that the failure of a single protection device or method will not result in a major failure of the entire system. In this system, equivalency is judged to exist when the total impact of the occupancy risk factors and the compensating building safety features produce a level of safety equal to or greater than that achieved by rigid conformance to the explicit requirements of the NFPA Life Safety Code. In this evaluation, safety performance is gauged both in terms of overall safety implact and depth of redundance. This report supersedes NBS report number NBSIR 78-1555 Published in November, 1978.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) -


sprinklers, building codes, building construction, delphi method, fire safety, health care facilities, hospitals, interior finishes, life safety code, nursing homes, risk analysis, smoke detection, safety evaluation


Nelson, H. and Shibe, A. (1980), System for Fire Safety Evaluation of Health Care Facilities., NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 22, 2024)
Created May 1, 1980, Updated February 19, 2017