TROY – A Cannon Foundation grant will assist FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital with a project designed to help ensure the safety of hospital patients, visitors and employees – automated sprinkler coverage of the entire facility.
While overnight patient care areas in the hospital have had sprinkler coverage for many years, parts of the building – some of them more than 60 years old – have never been covered. The $100,000 Cannon grant will be added to money from the hospital’s 2014 capital budget to fund the project.
“It’ll be a big relief once it’s completed,” says Woody Bond, MMH director of Facilities Management.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, sprinklers provide an extremely high level of life safety in covered buildings with statistics demonstrating that property losses are 85 percent less in buildings with fire sprinklers as compared to those without them.
National statistics also indicate that the combination of automated sprinklers and early warning systems in all buildings and residences could reduce overall injuries, loss of life and property damage by at least 50 percent.
According to hospital President Beth Walker, non-sprinklered areas of the hospital have for many years been “grandfathered in” by The Joint Commission, the national health care accrediting agency. But it has become increasingly apparent that full coverage will eventually be mandated – and sooner rather than later.
“I’ll be glad when it’s done,” says Walker.
Work on the sprinkler project will be contracted and provided by a firm specializing in automated fire protection. Planning was scheduled to start in December with work beginning in early 2014 and taking anywhere from 12 to 28 weeks depending on any structural impediments that might be encountered during the process.
In some areas, the hospital is a complicated combination of old and more recent construction. The current 79,701-square-foot facility includes the original 1951 hospital building, a wing that was added in 1969, and the outpatient area that was built in 1992.
“It’s not going to be an easy task,” Bond says of the project.
Considerable planning has gone into the sprinkler project with major efforts focusing on possible effects to patient care. Plans must also be approved by state regulatory agencies. At appropriate times and as part of an ongoing effort to assure safety, members of the Troy Fire Department will be included in the project team that includes representatives from FirstHealth Safety/Emergency Management, Project Design/Planning, Facilities and administration.