In California, healthcare facilities are subject to specific occupancy classifications that dictate the building standards and codes they must adhere to, ensuring the safety and well-being of occupants. These classifications are part of the California Building Standards Code, found in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations. The primary classifications for healthcare facilities include:
I-2 Occupancy (Institutional Group I-2): This classification applies to buildings used for medical care on a 24-hour basis for more than five persons who are not capable of self-preservation. This includes hospitals, nursing homes (both skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities), and detoxification facilities. Facilities under I-2 occupancy must adhere to stringent fire protection, egress, and safety standards due to the nature of care provided and the occupants' limited ability to evacuate in an emergency.
I-1 Occupancy (Institutional Group I-1): This classification generally applies to buildings housing more than 16 persons on a 24-hour basis who, because of age, mental disability, or other reasons, live in a supervised residential environment that provides personal care services. This can include assisted living facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs). The requirements for I-1 occupancy are designed to ensure a safe living environment with necessary support services.
B Occupancy (Business Group B): This classification is for buildings that are used for offices, professional services, and health care services for persons who are not rendered incapable of self-preservation by the services provided. This can include doctor’s offices, clinics, outpatient care facilities, and medical laboratories. B Occupancy requirements focus on the general safety and accessibility of the building for employees, patients, and visitors.
Ambulatory Health Care Occupancy: While not a distinct classification in the California Building Code, it aligns with NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards and applies to facilities where four or more patients are incapable of self-preservation. These facilities provide services on an outpatient basis and can include certain types of clinics, urgent care facilities, and outpatient surgical centers. The classification focuses on ensuring safety for patients who may have limited mobility or health conditions that require immediate egress in emergencies.
The specific requirements for each occupancy classification include fire protection and life safety systems, means of egress, accessibility, and the ability to withstand seismic events. The classification impacts the design and operation of the facility, including structural requirements, fire alarm systems, emergency lighting, and accessibility features. Compliance with these standards is crucial for the safety of occupants and the legal operation of healthcare facilities in California.