Update of Fire Protection Guidelines for Certain Health Facilities: CMS Publishes Final Rule on Fire Safety Requirements

May 4, 2016

On May 3, 2016, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a final rule, updating the fire protection guidelines for several types of health care facilities, including hospitals, critical access hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, inpatient hospice facilities, long term care facilities, programs for all inclusive care for the elderly, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and religious non-medical healthcare institutions. The final rule is designed to encompass the move by many health care facilities towards more “home-like” environments, while also ensuring that the facilities remain safe for patients, family, and staff.

The final rule has adopted provisions of the National Fire Protection Association’s 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code Survey. Previously, CMS had been using the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code Survey when conducting surveys of health care facilities. By incorporating provisions of the 2012 edition, CMS has acted to ensure its requirements are current and up-to-date. The final rule permits facilities to install fireplaces in smoke compartments without a one-hour fire wall rating. In addition, facilities are now permitted to have their cooking facilities be accessed by the hallway corridor, allowing residents the opportunity to use the cooking facilities for personal use. These new requirements in the final rule recognize the trend towards incorporating more residential flourishes within health care facilities.

Additionally, the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code Survey, incorporated into the final rule, contains more facility specific provisions. Long term care facilities have been granted more leeway towards the material that can be placed in corridors, including fixed seating in hallway corridors. Ambulatory Surgical Centers are now permitted to use their corridors to place alcohol based hand rub dispensers for easier access. Finally, all new Intermediate Care Facilities for the Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities have expanded sprinkler requirements to include all habitable areas, closets, roofed porches, balconies, decks, and attics if used for living purposes, storage, or housing of fuel-fired equipment.

Health care facilities are obligated to comply with the requirements contained in the final rule within 60 days from the date of the rule’s publication, on May 4, 2016, unless the final rule specifies otherwise. If you have any questions regarding the final rule or if you need assistance in implementing changes to your organization as a result of the final rule, please contact a member of Hancock Daniel’s Compliance Team.

Interview with Justin Biller, Fire Protection Engineer at Emerson Graham + Associates

Megan Dhillon interviews Justin Biller to gain his unique insight regarding the new fire safety regulations that will affect many providers. Full interview available here.

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