The Jan/Feb 2017 NFPA Journal edition features an article discussing the fire hazards present in hyperbaric chambers, especially those used in non-clinical applications. The article was written by Stephanie Schorow and features members and staff of the Technical Committee on Hyperbaric and Hypobaric Facilities. It describes that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is approved by the FDA for 14 specific uses, including treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, thermal burn injuries, and crush injuries. However, HBOT is becoming increasingly popular for treating conditions outside of this approved list: AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, depression, migraines, Parkinson's disease, and more. This therapy has also gained popularity from celebrities and famous athletes, and while some of these chambers are being used in clinical settings, many are not.
More often than not, these freestanding, non-affiliated, or privately owned hyperbaric chambers are not manufactured, installed, housed, operated, nor maintained in accordance with NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code, and this greatly increases the risk of fire and explosion. It is a goal of the Technical Committee and this article to make fire marshals and AHJs aware of this propagation of HBOT and the risk caused by hyperbaric chambers that do not comply with NFPA 99. The Journal article even provides a list of ten tips for AHJs to teach them more about the specific hazards regarding these chambers and how to find them in their jurisdiction. Something as simple as an increased awareness can help reduce risk, injuries, and deaths associated with non-compliant hyperbaric chambers, so pass along the article to your local AHJ!