This question has to do with suites in Healthcare occupancies. The applicable code is NFPA 101 2015 Edition. We are working on a renovation of an existing birthing center on the third floor of a hospital in Northern Vermont. The occupancy has been and will continue to be Healthcare throughout the floor. The renovation will take place at the West end of the floor plate. The East end of the floor plate is currently used for outpatient clinics but it will continue to be considered Healthcare as that is the most restrictive occupancy type. The floor plate is approximately 19,475 square feet overall in a rectangle about 220' x 90' and we propose to divide it into two smoke compartments. The Western compartment which is essentially the same footprint as the renovations will be approximately 8,300 SF. Please see the attached floor plan.
The AHJ reviewing the project has stated that the newly renovated area should be considered a Suite in accordance with 18/19 2.5.7. We do not feel that this is necessary and would like to avoid the complications that would arise from such a designation including but not limited to problems with suite size limitations, increased fire ratings to separate the suite from other spaces etc. etc. It is our understanding that the Suite designation per 18/19 2.5.7 would only be required (or desirable) if one could not meet the requirements for corridor access in 18/19 2.5.6.
We have studied Section 18/19 2.5.6 Corridor Access closely and feel that it is easily met. The original building design as well as the renovation consists of patient rooms at the perimeter with two 8' corridors running the length of the building to reach two fire rated stair cores at the very ends of the floor plate. The 8' corridors straddle a core space approximately 26 feet wide. It is not difficult to meet 18/19 2.5.6 because very few spaces are not directly adjacent to a corridor and those that are meet the definition of closets, bathrooms or briefly occupied work spaces as allowed by A18/19 18.104.22.168. Since the new plan meets the requirements of 18/19 2.5.6 we feel that there is no need to invoke Section 18/19 2.5.7 by calling the newly renovated area a Suite.
We are used to creating Suites when working on floor plates that are so big that it is hard to meet the requirements for direct access to corridors but on a floor plate as small as this one it does not seem necessary. In fact if one reads the commentary following 18/19 2.5.4 regarding Intervening Rooms or Spaces one might argue that creating a Suite at the West end of our floor plate would actually be counterproductive.