The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, published proposed rules this spring that would amend the fire safety standards for hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, hospice inpatient, and many other healthcare facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.
CMS proposed adopting the 2012 editions of the Life Safety Code, which includes measures devised by the National Fire Protection Association, and includes the Healthcare Facilities Code. A key change is a requirement that buildings over 75 feet tall have sprinkler systems throughout the structure. Existing buildings would have 12 years to install them.
Automatic sprinkler systems will be required in all habitable areas, closets, roofed porches, balconies, and decks of new residential health care facilities. CMS also strongly encouraged existing facilities to be sprinklered in all habitable areas. Under the new provisions, sprinklers also must be installed in attics of new and existing residential facilities if the attic is used for living purposes, storage, or the housing of fuel-fired equipment. Or, it must have a heat detection system, be of noncombustible construction, or be constructed of fire retardant treated-wood.
Newly-constructed facilities would have to install approved smoke alarms inside every sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on all levels within a residential unit. CMS is soliciting public comment regarding whether that requirement should be applied to existing facilities, as well.