SOMERVILLE, N.J. - Scheduled for fall 2014 completion, the 2.5 million-square-foot new Parkland Hospital is the largest healthcare construction project in the nation. The new facility will take the citizens of Dallas County well into the 22nd century according to Parkland Fire Marshal Michael Rader. It will replace the current Parkland Hospital, which was built in 1954. Rader oversees the life safety code compliance within Parkland to ensure the fire safety of patients, visitors and staff within the building.
An electronic barrier management program from STI brings accountability to the firestopping program at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX
Finding the Right Solution
Ensuring the integrity of the fire barrier systems is a major life safety requirement for the new construction. "Firestopping is the last line of defense for patients within a hospital," explained Rader. "Should something happen in one area, the firestopping system and smoke-tight seals of your barriers are your last line of defense to protect someone's mother, brother or sister. You've got to think about it in those terms. You don't just try to do the minimum, or find a system that will work, you want the best."
To find the best system for the Parkland project, Rader and the BARA construction management team eventually selected the electronic barrier management program from Specified Technologies, Inc. (STI) called eBMP™. "The accountability of the program as a whole rather than just as a software component was important," explained Rader. "It was a complete system." The program digitally manages the process of creating, sealing, mapping and subsequent accessing of all penetrations in the facility.
The program tracks, houses and manages the data. "Tracking is a huge issue and a big responsibility for whoever is doing the work and whoever is doing the inspections," said Rader. From an inspector's vantage point, the program allows random barrier selection and inspection without the cumbersome and costly process of locating a given penetration, fire damper, fire door or fire extinguisher cabinet. "Barcoding labels associated with each penetration allow easy tracking of every pipe and every wire that's going through a wall," explained Rader. "So, if you are looking at a bundle of wires you can literally use the software and find out exactly what the wires are and keep a history of their lifespan and use. The barcode label is absolute proof that the penetration you intend to inspect is, in fact, the penetration being inspected."
Minimizing Contamination Critical in Hospital Environment
In the healthcare environment, the ability to quickly find a penetration, a pipe or a bundle of wires can substantially minimize air contamination. "And, that's huge," says Rader. "Any time you have to remove a ceiling tile in a hospital you encounter dust and stale air. That's something you don't want in a patient area. Being able to quickly find what you are looking for means you disturb as little as possible above the ceiling."
Program is a Gatekeeper
According to Rick Stokes, owner and vice president of Fire Blockers, Inc., the contractor in charge of all firestopping and implementation of the electronic barrier management program for the project, "Projects that intend to maintain multiple rated barriers for the long haul must come to terms with the known deficiencies that occur on every project. The electronic barrier management program is the gatekeeper that can drive a facility to maintain these rated barriers at 100 percent compliance. There should never be a need to have firestop deficiencies listed on a 'Statement of Conditions.' The absence of this burden will pay huge dividends for the owner as well as the patient and employee."
Absolute Compliance Throughout the Construction Process
In hospital construction, explained Stokes, "Trade coordination is absolutely the key. The electronic barrier management program created an environment on the project in which all sub-contractors had to coordinate with Fire Blockers when making penetrations in rated walls. The documentation is excellent. The benefit to the owner, as well as the construction manager has been absolute compliance throughout the construction process."
Parkland now has the ability to track all of their rated systems and validate that all of the penetrations under BARA's control are certified and are logged and tagged in the system — and were verified throughout the on-site inspection process.
About Specified Technologies Inc. (STI)
Headquartered in Somerville, New Jersey, STI is an industry leader solely committed to the development of innovative, reliable firestopping solutions. Marketed under the EZ-Path®, SpecSeal®, and e-BMP® brands, the STI line offers over 1200 UL® Classified systems that assure high quality, high performance, and highly cost effective firestopping solutions. For more information contact; STI, 210 Evans Way, Somerville, NJ 08876, Ph: 800-992-1180 or visit www.stifirestop.com
Ray Bruno: 908-526-8000 (ext 1028)
When the $1.3 billion project is complete, Parkland Hospital will serve more than half a million patients annually.