Medical Construction & Design

JUL-AUG 2015

Medical Construction & Design (MCD) is the industry's leading source for news and information and reaches all disciplines involved in the healthcare construction and design process.

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BY MICHAEL CHUSID Lightning causes fi re, physical damage, injury and death. For healthcare facilities, however, electrical surges occur more frequently and disable or destroy electronic equipment essential to modern hospital operations. Life support, imaging, safety and security, and communication systems depend on digital circuits that cannot withstand lightning's hundred million or more volts. Lightning often accompanies tornadoes, hurricanes and other severe weather, knocking out critical systems just when a community most needs its hospitals and clinics. Even an ordinary thunderstorm can cause problems. At a Level I trauma center in Florida, for example, a new 1 megawatt backup generator used to fail as frequently as twice a month, its controller board or other component needing replacement after a thunderstorm. In contrast, there haven't been any failures since the hospital upgraded its lightning protection system. This does not surprise Jennifer Morgan, co-owner of East Coast Lightning Equipment and education director for the Lightning Safety Alliance. She says, "Many building industry professionals assume electrical systems are protected when grounded according to the National Electric Code. Yet the NEC does not address lightning protection and neither do most building codes." She advocates that "lightning protection should comply with a triad of standards proven to provide reliable protection." They are: National Fire Protection Association 780 - Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems, UL96A - Standard for Lightning Protection Components and Lightning Protection Institute 175 - Standard of Practice. To help a facility owner evaluate the potential for loss due to lightning, NFPA 780 contains a Risk Assessment Guide. It considers regional frequency of lightning, requirements for continu- ity of operation, and the structure's form, surroundings, construction materials, contents and ease of evacu- ation. While the risk to a low-rise outpatient facility in a dry region may be less than that of a multi-story hospital in an area prone to frequent thunderstorms, all structures in every region of the country are vulnerable. Fundamentals The basic principle of lightning protection is to provide a path that will safely conduct lightning's Preventive care for medical buildings Lightning Protection Lightning: jovannig/DollarPhotoClub; Rooftop: Bonded Lightning Protection Systems Inc. 48 Medical Construction & Design | J U LY/AUGUST 2015 | MCDM AG.COM

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