Safety

Keyes Q&A: Plywood walls, oxygen cylinders, and fire watches

Healthcare Life Safety Compliance, November 17, 2019

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Healthcare Life Safety Compliance.

Editor’s note: Each month, Brad Keyes, CHSP, owner of Keyes Life Safety Compliance, answers your questions about life safety compliance. Our editorial advisory board also reviews the Q&A column. Follow Keyes’ blog on life safety at www.keyeslifesafety.com for up to date information.  

Plywood head walls

Q: Are head walls made out of plywood considered an interior wall finish? Do these head walls need to be constructed from flame-retardant plywood?

A: I don’t know what you mean when you say “head walls,” but plywood attached to the gypsum-covered walls in a healthcare occupancy is considered an interior finish. The Life Safety Code® (LSC) allows Class A and Class B interior finish in rooms of healthcare occupancies.

  • Class A interior finish is material having a 0–25 flame spread rating
  • Class B interior finish is material having a 26–75 flame spread rating
  • Class C interior finish is material having a 76–200 flame spread rating  

Plywood typically has a flame spread rating around 150 or so—some are less and some are more. So on the first take, you would think plywood would not be permitted on walls of rooms in healthcare occupancies since it is a Class C interior finish. But wait … Section 10.2.8.1 of the 2012 LSC says if the room is protected with sprinklers, then Class C materials are permitted where Class B materials are required. So if the room where the plywood is attached to the gypsum-covered wall is sprinklered, then you should be fine. There is no requirement for the plywood to be fire-resistance rated.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Healthcare Life Safety Compliance.

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