The Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, located in Baltimore, MD, has a long and distinguished history of service and medical excellence. Founded in 1773, it is one of the oldest, continuous health care systems on the East Coast. In Dec. 2003, the center was scheduled for an inspection by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). Accreditation by JCAHO is a nationwide seal of approval that indicates that an organization meets high performance standards. It is based on the results of surveys that JCAHO conducts every three years in three specific areas: Administrative, Delivery of Patient Care, and Environment of Care. The surveys rate health care facilities on the implementation of certain customized standards. One of the standards in the Environment of Care area requires that any penetrations above the ceiling must be properly sealed in order to maintain the integrity of the fire-rated walls.
Firestopping ChallengesAt the time, the medical center's Facilities and Maintenance Department was facing a number of firestopping challenges in the area of Environment of Care and approached Specified Technologies, Inc. (STI) of Somerville, NJ. Any compromise to fire barriers constitutes a major problem. STI is a firestop products manufacturer with a strong understanding of the unique needs of the health care industry.
Developing a ProgramBayview and STI worked together for about a year and a half developing a Barrier Management Program to track where all the penetrations are made. "It's basically a standard operating procedure, or methodology, and reporting system to ensure fire barriers are always compliant,"
How the Process WorksThere are approximately 60 employees in Bayview's Facilities and Maintenance Department. Teams from Facilities and Maintenance continuously do floor-to-floor checking to make sure penetrations are firestopped. Training of these employees was an essential component of the STI program. They received their training at the STI facility in New Jersey and had to pass a very difficult test. STI also came to the Bayview campus to do in-house training and has continued to support the facility for the last year and a half.
Fire-Rated Pathway a Viable SolutionDuring the period that Bayview was working with STI on developing the program, STI introduced a new product for firestopping cable penetrations called the EZ-Path™ fire-rated pathway. Because the firstopping is built into the pathway, STI believed this would eliminate concerns about firestopping being reinstalled following cable changes. Additionally, with a 100% visual fill rating, concerns about overfilling conduits and being out of compliance are eliminated as well. The center saw it as a way to eliminate punched holes in the wall once and for all.
Units Incorporated Into the ProgramBayview decided to make an initial purchase of 100 EZ-Path units. Meanwhile, Facilities and Maintenance will meet with all construction workers before every project starts, as well as those running cabling through the fire-rated or smoke-rated walls, to determine the extent of wall penetration. If there is going to be a substantial number of cables, Bayview will install an EZ-Path unit and mark up drawings indicating where the unit is located. EZ-Path units are installed in all the mechanical spaces, telephone closets, data closets, TV closets, and anywhere bulk cables are being brought through fire-rated walls. The idea is that for future use, contractors can go through the EZ-Path pathway instead of knocking new holes in the wall. If there is no EZ-Path in a needed location, Bayview has the option of installing an EZ-Path for them. The plan is that in a one- to five-year period, Bayview will have installed enough EZ-Path units to hopefully eliminate the need to knock holes in the wall.
Successful Survey is CriticalThe 18-month partnering effort with Bayview was instrumental in the medical center passing the JCAHO inspection. In fact, the JCAHO surveyor for the Environment of Care area complimented the president of the medical center and said that Bayview was one of the only hospitals that he had surveyed that had been as proactive regarding firestopping.
For more information about STI's firestopping products, visit www.stifirestop.com.