Health care buildings and campuses can have many different security-sensitive areas based on risk assessments performed by the facilities. Many have to remedy concerns and requirements for security as well as fire and life safety.

While fire and life safety requirements have limited placement of equipment and storage in exit enclosures, security concerns have been ramping up. Security in health care often consists of access control, cameras and other measures for patient and staff safety.

As currently adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the 2012 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, addresses security cameras in exit enclosures through sections, which requires the exit enclosure to be free from any purpose that may inhibit egress, including storage or installation of equipment not necessary for safety. 

Additionally, Section (10) (b) only allows electrical conduit serving equipment necessary for the exit enclosure to penetrate the fire-rated separation. The annex for this section allows the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to permit certain equipment such as security systems and associated wiring (including cameras) within the exit enclosure. 

The NFPA Healthcare Interpretations Task Force addressed this issue at its June 12, 2018, meeting. The decision was to allow security systems, including cameras, card sensors and motion sensors, to be installed in exit enclosures per the following:

  • Wire to the device is installed in metal conduit.
  • Conduit is properly sealed with a listed firestop assembly.
  • Occupant egress through the exit enclosure is not impeded or interfered with.

As the codes have evolved, the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 has moved the annex language allowing security systems installed in metal conduit in exit enclosures into the official code language. 

As facilities are still being held to the requirements in the 2012 edition of NFPA 101, a conversation with your AHJ is the best place to start. Any decisions should be documented and saved for future surveys.