Apr. 15—Hospitals and other healthcare providers would have new fire safety requirements under a proposed rule issued Monday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The agency proposed adoption of updated life safety codes (LSC) to ensure the health and safety of patients in Medicare and Medicaid-participating facilities. CMS intends to adopt the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 editions of the (LSC) and the Health Care Facilities Code (HCFC), which is aligned with the international building codes.

The LSC sets out fire safety requirements for new and existing buildings and is issued by the NFPA, a private, nonprofit fire protection organization.

The proposed code would establish minimum requirements for the installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, performance, and safe practices of health care facility materials, equipment, and appliances.

The new edition of the LSC applies to hospitals, long term care facilities (LTC), critical access hospitals (CAHs), Programs for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), religious non-medical healthcare institutions (RNHCIs), hospice inpatient facilities, ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF-IIDs).

Specific Changes

Provisions applicable to hospitals, LTC facilities, CAHs, Hospice inpatient facilities, PACE, and RNHCIs would incorporate several changes:

  • Allow facilities to increase suite sizes
  • Require all high-rise buildings over 75’ are required to be fully sprinklered within 12 years
  • Allow controlled access doors to prevent wandering patients
  • Address issues of alcohol-based hand-rub dispensers in corridors and patient rooms
  • Require a fire watch (the assignment of a person or persons to an area for the express purpose of notifying appropriate people during an emergency) or building evacuation if a sprinkler system is out of service for more than four hours
  • Require smoke control in anesthetizing locations 

Several changes for ASCs also were included:

  • Require interior non-bearing walls have a minimum of two-hour fire resistance rating and be constructed with fire retardant-treated wood
  • Require all doors to hazardous areas have to be self-closing or automatic closing
  • Address the issue of placing alcohol based hand rub dispensers in corridors
  • Require a fire watch or building evacuation if sprinkler system is out of service for more than four hours
  • Require smoke control in anesthetizing locations

Comments are due within 60 days of the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register.


Publication Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014