Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
4/23/2024

Article 5. Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical, Smoke Control, and Fire Protection

6VAC15-81-980. Mechanical, plumbing, electrical, smoke control, and fire protection installation.

Unless indicated otherwise by this chapter, all components of mechanical, plumbing, electrical, smoke control, and fire protection systems, including air handlers, fans, duct work, terminal boxes, dampers, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters, pumps, piping, valves, sensors, control wiring, thermostats, tubing, conduit, wiring, motors, lighting fixtures, and associated equipment within the secure perimeter shall be mounted as follows:

1. As high as possible for the intended function and securely fastened to the structure or walls.

2. If located less than 12 feet above the finished floor or within six feet horizontally of guard rails enclosing tier floor and landing levels in dayrooms, the components shall be specifically designed for the security level of the space where it is installed, protected by a secure enclosure, or protected by secure encapsulation. Exceptions include spaces dedicated for staff use. "Secure enclosure" means secure walls, secure floors, and secure roof or secure ceiling surrounding a space or area.

3. Piping, wiring, conduit, control wiring, and tubing shall not be exposed in cells.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-990. Mechanical.

A. Within the secure perimeter of the facility, flexible duct work shall not be installed within six feet of any opening (e.g., register, grille, diffuser, etc.) that can be accessed by inmates.

B. Air inlets and outlets.

1. Maximum security grills shall be provided in the following areas:

a. All cells.

b. Maximum security housing units.

2. Maximum security grills shall have a 3/16-inch steel face plate interconnected to a 3/16-inch thick steel sleeve. Openings in the face shall be no larger than 3/16-inch each. Alternatively, a security grille specifically designed for suicide resistance may be allowed as approved by the reviewing authority.

3. In inmate accessible areas, other than maximum security, security grilles, security diffusers and security face plates shall be 12-gage or protected by 12-gage steel full face protection.

4. Commercial grade grilles, diffusers and face plates may be provided in:

a. Areas where lay-in ceiling tiles or single layer gypsum board ceilings are allowed.

b. Areas located greater than 12 feet above the floor.

c. Areas greater than six feet measured horizontally from any tier.

d. Staff areas within the security perimeter.

5. Grilles, diffusers, and face plates shall be constructed of stainless steel in inmate shower areas and stainless steel or aluminum in kitchen areas. Thickness of stainless steel grilles and diffusers for shower areas shall be as required for the security level indicated in this section.

6. Consideration shall be given to upsizing grille and diffuser sizes, but not openings in face, to compensate for pressure drop due to anticipated paint buildup.

7. Consideration shall be given to locating inlets and outlets to provide proper distribution of air and prevent short circuiting.

C. Opening protectives. Duct and other penetrations of security walls, security floors, security ceilings or security roof shall be protected by bar grille or woven rod meeting the dimensional requirements for walls in this chapter when they are larger than:

1. Eight inches by eight inches.

2. Five inches in one direction if the other dimension is larger than eight inches.

3. Exceptions:

a. Duct bars are not required in wall penetrations in the interior security walls located within an individual housing unit, or the inner wall of their integral sally port. Duct bars are required in penetrations of control rooms.

b. Duct bars are not required if maximum security grilles are provided in interior security walls or interior security ceilings in accordance with subsection B of this section.

D. Within the secure perimeter, portions of the mechanical system requiring maintenance or inspection shall be located so it cannot be accessed by inmates.

E. Supply, return, or exhaust through chases shall be ducted.

F. Armories shall have a dedicated exhaust to the outside of the building.

G. Control rooms shall have dedicated HVAC systems.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-1000. Plumbing.

A. Showers.

1. Showers shall include a soap dish and drain. Shower heads shall be positioned to confine water flow to shower stall.

2. Hot and cold or tempered running water shall be available in all showers. Hot and cold running water shall be available in all lavatories. Hot water, which is accessible by inmates, shall be controlled by a temperature limiting device to preclude temperatures in excess of 105 degrees F.

3. Toilet area wall, floor, and ceiling surface finishes shall be durable, washable, and resistant to water, mold, and mildew.

4. Shower ceiling, wall, and floor surface finishes shall be durable, washable, and resistant to water, mold, and mildew. Shower and shower area floor surface finishes shall be slip resistant. The reviewing authority may require that inmate showers be constructed from stainless steel.

5. All showers for inmate use shall be operated by metering push button control.

B. Plumbing fixtures.

1. Plumbing fixtures in maximum security housing units shall be stainless steel.

2. In indirect supervision medium security housing units, toilets and lavatories shall be stainless steel.

3. In minimum security housing units and direct supervision medium security housing areas, toilets shall be a minimum of commercial grade tankless toilets and commercial grade lavatories.

4. Soap holders in showers and toilet paper holders shall be the recessed type.

5. Showers providing ADA accessibility designed with fixed low shower head shall have a second head at standard height.

6. Where an ADA accessible mirror is provided, a regular height mirror shall also be provided. Height to bottom of regular height mirror is recommended at 53 to 57 inches.

7. Consideration shall be given to maintenance and sanitation (ponding water and soap) and suicide resistance when selecting grab bars in ADA accessible showers.

8. All toilets for inmate use shall be operated by push button activators. Lavatories for inmate use shall be operated by metering push button activators.

9. Inmate plumbing fixtures in sally ports shall be maximum security.

10. Gooseneck faucets shall not be allowed on lavatories in inmate accessible areas.

C. All floors and tiers in housing units shall be provided with adequate drainage to handle standing water associated with shower areas, toilet or sprinkler overflows, and cleaning.

D. Kitchens and laundries shall be provided with adequate drainage.

E. Janitorial closets with mop sinks and storage shall be provided in every inmate housing unit. Janitorial closets shall be provided in proximity to intake and to serve corridors.

F. Toilet facilities for the use of security and administrative staff and inmates shall be located throughout the building. Staff toilet facilities shall be provided in master control stations. Staff toilet facilities shall be provided in, or convenient to, other control stations or control rooms.

G. PVC or other plastic piping, one-half inch or greater, shall not be used above the ground floor slab within the secure perimeter of the jail. For transitions, PVC piping may extend not more than six inches above the floor.

H. Plumbing fixtures and lines shall not be located above security electronic rooms.

I. Isolation valves and balancing valves are recommended to facilitate maintenance. Butterfly valves are not recommended.

J. As a minimum, a water supply shutoff controllable from outside each housing unit shall be provided from a location readily accessible by staff but not by inmates. Remotely controlled water supply shutoff valves should be considered for individual inmate cells, especially at special housing.

K. Gravity sanitary drainage mains and fittings serving two or more fixtures in housing units shall have a minimum inside dimension of six inches.

L. For inmate toilets with a gravity sewer, a cleanout with interceptor pin at each tee in chases is recommended.

M. All sanitary and stormwater piping penetrating a secure perimeter wall, security floor, secure recreation yard, or vehicular sally ports shall not exceed eight inches in diameter. If flow calculations require a pipe diameter greater than eight inches, a series of eight-inch or smaller pipes equivalent to or greater than the flow area calculated shall be used. It is expected that multiple pipes be installed as a duct bank.

N. All showers shall be provided with mechanical exhaust directly from the shower compartment. Single showers shall be exhausted individually. In the case of multiple showers without full height partitions between the showers, the exhaust may be from a central location from the shower area.

O. All fixtures shall be low flow, water saving type.

P. Inmate lavatories, drinking fountains, toilets, and urinals inside the secure perimeter shall not have exposed piping and components.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-1010. Electrical.

A. All wiring, conductors, and control tubing shall be concealed to the greatest extent possible.

1. Where wiring is exposed and accessible by inmates, it shall be housed in intermediate metal conduit (IMC) or rigid metal conduit (RMC) with threaded fittings.

2. Rigid nonmetallic conduit (PVC or CPVC) shall not be used above ground floor slab within the secure perimeter except when encapsulated in concrete or grouted concrete masonry units. For transitions, rigid nonmetallic conduit may extend not more than six inches above floor.

3. Flexible metallic conduit not exceeding six feet in length shall be allowed above ceilings.

4. Flexible conduit, if required for a moving part of a device (e.g., pan-tilt-zoom camera), shall not exceed 12 inches exposed and shall be liquid tight or equivalent.

5. Electrical metallic tubing (EMT) and other types of conduits are not permitted within the secure perimeter.

B. The intensity of artificial lighting shall be in accordance with the requirements of 6VAC15-40, Minimum Standards for Jails and Lockups.

C. Standby power.

1. A standby power source shall be provided sufficient to sustain, as a minimum, life safety operations, security systems, refrigerators, and freezers.

a. "Life safety operations" means the function of certain electrical, mechanical, and other building equipment provided for the purpose of ensuring the life, health, and safety of building occupants in an emergency situation.

b. Fuel capacity shall be provided for a minimum of 72 hours of operation without refueling.

c. Consideration shall be given to emergency power for nonemergency lighting.

2. Consideration shall be given to protection of generators, standby power source, and fuel sources from unauthorized access or damage by location, fencing, or enclosure.

D. Light fixtures.

1. The security level of fixtures shall be consistent with the security level of the area where located.

2. Security light fixtures shall be surface mounted to any ceiling that is the secure perimeter. Exception: Security fixtures that are designed for, integral to, and maintain the security level of the ceiling, which is not the secure perimeter, may be recessed.

3. Fixtures installed in nonsecure lay-in ceilings may be standard fixtures with vandal resistant lenses.

4. Suspended ceiling mounted lighting fixtures in maximum and medium security housing units shall be supported from the structure above with threaded rods, independent of any ceiling grid or framework.

E. Placement of receptacles and lighting switches in individual cells is discouraged. Consideration should be given for access to power for medical devices.

F. Surge protection shall be provided on power supplies for electrically powered systems and service to include those that leave the building.

G. Lightning protection with a UL Master Certification is required for the facility.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-1020. Smoke control.

A. A smoke control system shall be provided for dormitory and celled areas such as intake, medical, special purpose, and general population housing.

B. The pressurization method, with a minimum of 24 air changes per hour of exhaust and 20 air changes per hour of makeup air, is preferred, but the exhaust method may be used.

C. Exit corridors shall be positively pressurized to minimize smoke migration into the area and keep the path of egress clear of smoke.

D. A smoke test shall be performed prior to acceptance of the building. The local fire department, local building official, facility safety officer, or their designees shall be invited to witness the smoke tests, and the tests shall be witnessed by the reviewing authority. The areas to be tested shall be at least one each of a typical dormitory and one of each typical celled area, such as intake, medical, segregation and each configuration of general housing, as determined by the reviewing authority.

E. Smoke machines to perform the tests shall be furnished by the owner or the owner's contractor. Smoke machines provided shall be of sufficient size and capacity to perform the tests in a short period of time.

F. Understanding that there are many variables involved, the desired results of the tests are as follows: from start of smoke machine to system alarm shall be two minutes or less; from system alarm to system activation shall be 30 seconds or less; from system activation to distinguish an egress path from the center of the room to an exit shall be two minutes or less; and from system activation to the space being sufficiently clear to reset the system shall be 30 minutes or less.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

6VAC15-81-1030. Fire protection.

A. Sprinkler heads in inmate accessible areas shall be detention type heads.

B. Exposed fire alarms, smoke detectors, heat detectors, and audible and visual signaling devices shall be mounted as high as practicable, and if below 12 feet, they shall be covered with heavy-gage tamper-resistant protective cages securely fastened to the surface. All exposed devices including sprinkler heads in gymnasiums or indoor recreation areas shall be covered with protective cages.

Statutory Authority

§§ 53.1-5, 53.1-80, and 53.1-82 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 12, eff. March 8, 2018.

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