By: Nick Davis & Steve Januskis
This week’s ID University, presented by Plumbing and Fire Protection Designer, Nick Davis, and Electrical Group Leader, Steve Januskis, focused on Interdisciplinary Coordination and Lessons Learned. There was a brief introduction on “electrical clearances”, which included an explanation of the NEC Article 110, Section 23, as well as a description of the “dedicated equipment space” and how it affects the overall design and planning of an electrical space. Dedicated equipment space, which can include switchboards, panelboards and motor control centers, needs to be in its own protected space. It is important that piping, exhaust ducts, leak protection apparatuses and other foreign items remain out of the dedicated zone to avoid leakage or condensation, which may compromise the functionality of the electrical equipment. However, the area above the dedicated space may contain foreign systems if protection is installed. This will prevent possible damage to the electrical equipment.
Next, Nick discussed the importance and purpose of emergency eyewash stations in battery rooms. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed Standard – 29 CFR 1910.151, which mandates safety for workers. It reads, “…where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.” Although OSHA does not define clearances surrounding the equipment, ID employs ADA clearances for good measure. While it is very important to have an eyewash station in a battery room, generally eyewash stations are the last item to be placed into the space. This typically occurs for two reasons. Normally, until the electrical equipment is cleared, it is best not to have liquids, such as water, in the space for safety reasons. Furthermore, it is not considered important by most contractors and architects, and is often left out of designs.
Steve and Nick continued their presentation with a discussion regarding battery room guidelines and emergency eyewash and shower unit locations. The emergency shower stations sparked an interesting conversation from both the Boston and Dallas office. While discussing previous projects, one question lingered, “Was a drainage system needed when having a shower in a battery room and does it require a separate system due to possible contaminates?” It was later explained by Greg Riley, ID Plumbing and Fire Protection Engineer, that the protocol for most buildings requires an eyewash and shower station. Drainage systems may or may not be provided for areas with emergency showers, depending on the owner requirements. If a drainage system is installed, a lock acid neutralization system is used to reduce the corrosive action on the drainage system. If no drainage system is preferred, then some level of room construction is installed. After an incident occurs, an approved environmental company is called in to clean the area.
Concluding the presentation, Nick and Steve discussed sprinkler locations and problems that arise from improper placement. Often times, building features are added without the knowledge of sprinkler systems, creating obstructions that could lead to malfunctioning sprinklers (i.e. wooden beams, ductwork, soffits, etc.). This goes to show the importance of coordination and communication between disciplines, as it could prevent errors down the line in the design process.