Group Created with Sketch. !
Addressing COVID-19
Learn More

Engineering Insights:

For California Healthcare

Porte-Cochere Fire Life Safety Considerations

How the PORTE-COCHeRE Code Application Notice (CAN) 2-508 may Impact Your Hospital Design

Most hospital facilities include the construction of canopy structures overhanging the ambulance and passenger drop-off areas to provide weather protection. Where a canopy structure overhangs vehicles, OSHPD will regulate the structure as a “Porte-Cochere.” This designation imposes several fire/life safety requirements on the canopy. In September 2020, OSHPD revised their “Porte-Cochere” Code Application Notice (CAN) 2-508 (formerly CAN 2-1109B.2).  The CAN update was primarily a reorganization to improve clarity with limited change in its code application. Key considerations of the CAN are:

  1. The Porte-Cochere is considered part of the hospital building and is not subject to the traditional exterior wall projection or canopy provisions of the California Building Code (CBC). A secondary option, lacking practicality in new hospital designs, is to construct a firewall between the canopy structure and hospital building to serve as a building separation.
  2. As part of the same building, the Porte-Cochere must be built of the same type of construction as the hospital building. OSHPD has recently enforced this requirement to impose both material restrictions (non-combustible vs. combustible) as well as fire-resistance ratings. If the hospital building is a Type I building, the Porte-Cochere canopy structure is also subject to the fire-resistance ratings from CBC Table 601 for Type I construction. This requirement poses the largest impact on the architectural design of the canopy structure.
  3. The Porte-Cochere requires sprinkler protection because it is considered as part of the hospital building. A separate OSHPD interpretation will also require sprinkler protection under the canopy structure if the canopy overhangs a required means of egress from the building.

Several projects have explored a design solution that pulls the edge of the canopy back away from the vehicle drive area, such that the canopy dripline does not overhang vehicles. Where this configuration is successfully implemented, there is potential for the canopy to avoid the Porte-Cochere classification and avoid compliance with CAN 2-508.

This topic consistently arises on most OSHPD hospital projects at the passenger and ambulance drop-off areas, and while the OSHPD CAN may seem overly complicated upon the first review, the primary impacts of the OSHPD CAN 2-508 can be simplified to these select issues.

Hospital building's exterior.

Seismic Anchorage Exemptions


If you are involved in the design of acute care facilities, you generally know which non-structural equipment requires seismic anchorage design. But can you easily identify what equipment is exempt from this requirement?

Anyone designing acute care facilities knows seismic anchorage and bracing all non-structural equipment and distribution systems is a significant task. To lessen this burden, it is useful to understand what equipment does not require engineering calculations or an engineer’s input. This is often referred to as “exempt equipment.”

Hospital entrance sign.

Exempt Roof and Floor Mounted Equipment:
CBC 1617A.1.18 ASCE 7, Section
Any equipment weighing 400 lbs or less, and that has a center of gravity less than 4 ft high, is exempt equipment. You need to show the anchorage on the plans, but it only needs to indicate a “positive attachment.” Positive attachment does not mean equipment can simply rest on the floor, roof, or support. However, if your detail is showing screws, lags, expansion bolts, etc. positively attaching the equipment to the floor or roof, no further proof or calculations should be required.

Exempt Moveable or Mobile Equipment:
CBC 1617A.1.18 ASCE 7, Section (and d)
Moveable and mobile equipment, especially larger heavier moveable and mobile equipment, requires detachable restraints “in a manner approved by the enforcement agency.” You will need to detail the restraints on the plans, such as brackets with a detachable chain around the equipment, but it can be a practical agreeable solution. The code does not technically require you to provide supporting engineering calculations showing compliance for code forces. However, there are times when OSHPD may request such engineering calculations despite this.

Exempt Wall Mounted Equipment:
CBC 1617A.1.18 ASCE 7, Section
Only wall mounted equipment (or any component) less than or equal to 20 lbs is considered exempt. This exemption came to be after a code change removed an exemption for wall mounted equipment weighing 150 lbs or less and with a center of gravity not more than 12 in from the wall surface. However, sheet ST2.04 of OPD-0001-13 shows a piece of wall mounted equipment attached to backing per ST5.00 with #10 SMS screws at 12 in o.c. putting a load of 50 lbs on each stud as preapproved. This change left the exact code limit for exempt wall mounted equipment unclear in our experience. Often OSHPD will not request structural calculations showing code compliance for attachment of wall mounted equipment (especially electrical panels) that are roughly 150 lbs or less and are being attached by expansion bolts to a concrete or masonry wall, or attached by (4) #12 SMS to typical backing per ST5.00 of OPD-0001-13. We recommended that you detail that first, and wait for a request of structural calculations.

Project Highlight


Learn More

“The work for the De Paul Rapid COVID Surge was extraordinary. Coffman Engineers stepped up to challenges this year, created a remote and local team, embraced our team’s use of digital tools (Openspace.AI, Matterport, and ProjectInertia), and most importantly provided rapid responses. The area that truly set the team apart, was the degree of ownership. In multiple instances, Coffman led the development of cross-discipline solutions for the Equipment Central Yard, Future Solar Array, and Outpatient Clinic. We are ready for a surge in South Santa Clara County thanks to Coffman.”  Tony Jones, Project Manager, Layton Construction


talk to a Coffman engineer

This is a summary of the code provisions and additional requirements may apply to your project or situation. If you found this useful and would like a summary or clarification of other sections of the healthcare code, please reach out and let us know. We’d be happy to cover your favorite topic.

Contact Us

We use cookies to improve your online experience. For more information, visit our privacy policy