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QUESTION: Does anyone have a decoration policy (current to NFPA 101-2012) that they would be willing to share?

At each of my hospitals over the years, I have developed a policy for this that includes three key elements: (1) a direct reference to the Life Safety Code detail specific to this; (2) procedure around my engineering staff applying a flame-retardant product to decorations; and (3) a log book that is maintained to document: a description of each item that has been treated with the flame retardant; the date it was treated; and where it is displayed. Also, I make a practice of referencing this policy and procedure in an annual email I send to all staff. It’s worked well for me — being able to both enforce the letter of code and permit some seasonal festivity.

QUESTION: Our hospital recently began a healthy exercise initiative to use the stairs instead of elevators. I have been asked if an employee artist can add painted art decorations in our stairwells — painted directly on the walls, no doors, not around required signage, and not framed artwork. It would add some interest and variety, but it could also be a distraction from egress and fire safety. Are there any codes that prohibit it?

The Life Safety Code does not prohibit “distractions,” only items that would interfere with the stair’s use as an exit ( It is difficult to conceive of any argument that artwork painted on the walls could interfere with the stair’s use as an exit.

QUESTION: What are you doing to enable front-line staff to notify other staff/campus police that they are currently in danger due to a patient attack (verbal or physical)? Are you using panic buttons? Are they hardwired or pendant style? Or are you using another tool?

We currently place hardwired panic buttons. The locations are based on a risk assessment by our public safety leadership. We are evaluating pendant-based technology but haven’t settled on a final direction yet.

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