Medical Gas Shut-Off

Medical Gas is defined as NITROGEN, OXYGEN, NITROUS OXIDE, and MEDICAL AIR.  Waste Anesthesia Gas Disposal (WAGD) and Medical Vacuum are also considered part of the Medical Gas system. 

Medical Gas Medical and shut-off valves are located in patient care areas near nursing stations and procedure rooms. The shut-off valves are inside square or rectangular cut-outs on the wall, covered by removable plastic.  Medical gas shut-off valves should remain accessible at all times. 

Authorized Personnel

In the event of a fire, it is important to note that medical gasses, including oxygen, are NOT immediately shut off.  It would be appropriate to shut off the oxygen supply to an area only if a piece of medical equipment supplied with oxygen or a patient using oxygen is on fire.  Only the charge nurse or other clinical supervisor may turn off medical gasses upon direction from the San Francisco Fire Department or Medical Center Facilities.  Only authorized Facilitiesand Physical Plant personnel are able to return back to operation any medical gas valves that have been turned off.

Judgment and Considerations When Shutting Off Valves

  • Identify if medical gases are actually an existing or continuing hazard to the incident/emergency
  • Clinical staff must know the location of medical gas shut-off valves and understand the areas served by the system.  (Identify all rooms/suites and/or patients that are being supplied gases and be prepared to provide alternative sources.)
  • Is the staff competent to perform bag mask ventilation in the event that the medical gases are shut off?


  1. Pull the plastic cover off the panel.
  2. Grab the handle and pull handle one-fourth turn toward you.
  3. The handle should then be visible (sticking out) to anyone walking down the hallway.
  4. Do not turn handle back to the "ON" position once valve is shut off.  Only Facilities and Physical Plant staff are authorized to turn medical gases back on.
  5. After all appropriate medical gas valves are turned off, staff in the affected area will check the area ONLY IF IT IS SAFE TO DO SO, to ensure that everyone has been evacuated.

For detailed information, please refer to UCSF Health Fire Life Safety Policy.




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