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Why Fire-Rating Wiring is Crucial in Healthcare Buildings

When an emergency happens in a medical building, the need for quick response and protection of critical circuits is dire.

In fact, medical professionals have a protocol to quickly respond to fire emergencies – RACE:  Rescue, Alert, Confine, and Extinguish/Evacuate. Number two is alert, a fire alarm pull to make sure the local fire department will be on the way.

As an additional measure, many hospitals are implementing two-hour fire-rated wiring systems to ensure they meet life safety codes. But why?

Why Protection of Critical Circuits is Important in Healthcare

All hospitals have a number of procedures they must follow during a fire, including:

  1. Code Red: This is often a code word to alert hospital personnel to fire.
  2. Fire’s Point of Origin: The location where the fire started.
  3. RACE: The acronym mentioned above to help personnel remember their duties during a fire.

Unlike other buildings, hospitals have complex circuitry to keep power pumping into every room. Alarm systems, oxygen valves, heart monitors, and life support are all systems that need to remain functional during an emergency.

If the fire requires an evacuation, it’s especially important to try to keep these systems online until the situation is resolved. This is one of the main reasons fire-rated wiring comes into play.

What Are the NEC Codes for Healthcare?

What some might not know, is that there are actually electrical codes in place for healthcare facilities. Article 517 of the National Electrical Code (NEC) outlines the requirements for these buildings.

The article outlines what constitutes as a healthcare facility, and it’s not limited to only hospitals. In fact, it’s “any building or mobile enclosure for providing people with care such as dental, psychiatric, nursing, surgery, etc.” Essentially, if the building takes patients, it needs to meet this code.

A majority of the language in this section concerns life safety, requiring a system capable of providing lighting and power service for life safety elements in the building. Fire-rated wiring systems like nVent PYROTENAX provide the protection required during an emergency. 

Why MI Cables are The Best for Healthcare

MI cable’s inorganic construction makes the cable extremely fire and heat resistant. During a fire, these cables can withstand high temperatures and don’t emit smoke or gas. For fire professionals responding to a situation in a healthcare building, this can make a significant difference.

With current trends moving towards the protection of critical circuits, MI cables also have advantages in:

  • Maintenance – Most cables are not subject to quick deterioration. \
  • UL Listings – Fire-rated cable meets many critical UL listings.
  • Inspections – These cables are easy to inspect, while concrete alternatives can’t be inspected at all.
  • Installation – With the advancement of technology, MI cable is getting easier to install and requires less space in the building, contributing to electrical modernization.

For healthcare providers, ensuring your building will stay operational during and after an emergency needs to be a priority.

To learn more about how electrical codes can impact building design or retrofitting, view our code series educational series on YouTube today.