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EH&E and Brigham and Women’s Hospital win IFMA Excellence Award for advancing fire, life safety in construction practices

NEEDHAM, Mass. – EH&E, a provider of environmental and engineering consulting services, has won the 2014 IFMA Boston Excellence Award for Best Practices in Sustainability for a joint project conducted with Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). The award honors a new approach — commissioned by BWH and designed by EH&E — that "sets a new benchmark" and establishes a "model of best practices" for the improvement of fire and life safety compliance during and after construction of healthcare facilities.

The IFMA Award for Best Practices in Sustainability was one of four Facility Management Achievement awards presented at a ceremony in June 2014.

Construction, renovation, maintenance and tele/data upgrades are a constant in hospitals across the US. The complexity of these projects and the pace of the schedule can lead to unexpected compromises in firewall barriers – a broadly recognized problem in hospitals.

The new approach to fire stopping and life safety management, designed by EH&E and BWH, shows hospitals how to cost effectively resolve these deficiencies and how to set the foundation for maintaining life safety and firewall barrier systems throughout the life of their buildings.

EH&E and BWH collaborated on a program to address root causes of firewall breaches and permit proactive identification and resolution of fire and life safety deficiencies during construction. The program ensures issues are addressed during construction so the hospital starts with a safe and compliant building at the time it is occupied. The hospital saves costs because they are not inheriting fire safety deficiencies — responsibility for repairs is put back on the contractor. The program also includes implementation of a "continuous compliance" program to insure proper procedures are followed during renovation and maintenance activities throughout the life of the building.

This new fire stopping and life safety management program was implemented on new construction and renovation projects at BWH. The result is greater than 96% compliance with The Joint Commission and an estimated savings of more than $10,000 per each 10,000 square feet of floor area through the repair of firewall deficiencies prior to occupancy.

"This program improves our construction and maintenance performance and fosters collaboration amongst the teams, provides the documentation to have confidence in our continuous compliance, and maintains budget neutrality when we account for the significant costs avoided in having to address corrective actions after occupancy. This program is a home run for patients, employees, first responders and BWH," said Stephen Dempsey, director of Facilities Planning and Construction at Partners HealthCare, the umbrella organization for BWH.

The award submission detailing this groundbreaking project is available for download at: www.eheinc.com/firesafety_hospital_wp.htm.