In the pursuit of optimizing health care facilities, the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) has contributed or participated in a number of research efforts with the National Fire Protection Association’s Research Foundation.  

Several of these research efforts directly relate to common topics within health care facilities, while others validate or perhaps refute some of the foundational concepts that codes and standards are built upon. While the research doesn’t guarantee changes in codes and standards, it could be used to initiate discussions since they may still provide evidence to either support or oppose changes submitted by others.

ASHE supports codes and standards that are informed by research. Sometimes research may indicate that a change is possible, but perhaps other non-fire/electrical/safety hazards would inhibit following that course. Other times, the change proves valuable to the field.

For example, the research completed by ASHE to support the increase of compartment sizes suggested that in a compliant hospital environment, adequate time would be available to horizontally evacuate patients from one compartment to another with as much as 108,000 square feet per compartment. The aim of this research was to show that a single compartment could be capable of encompassing 16 patient rooms. When considering typical staffing models, nurse foot traffic, the need to have at least two compartments for horizontal movement, average floor plate sizes within the U.S. and abroad, the decision ultimately was made to increase maximum compartment sizes from 22,500 square feet to 40,000 square feet.

Some of the Fire Protection Research Foundation efforts supported by ASHE include: