Healthcare News & Insights

CMS wants to adopt updated life safety code

479528565A key priority for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is to ensure the health and safety of all patients, family and staff in every provider and supplier setting. That’s why it recently announced a proposed rule to adopt the updated life safety code (LSC). 

The updated code contains new provisions that are vital to the health and safety of all patients and staff.

CMS intends to adopt the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 editions of the LSC and the Health Care Facilities Code (HCFC).

Since the 2012 edition of LSC also is aligned with the international building codes and would make compliance across codes much simpler for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating facilities, this would reduce the burden on healthcare providers.

Out with the old

Currently, CMS uses the 2000 edition of the LSC. But it’s proposing the adoption of the 2012 editions of the LSC and the Health Care Facilities Code. Reason: This edition puts forth fire safety requirements for new and existing buildings, and is issued by the NFPA, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing loss of life due to fire.

The Health Care Facilities Code contains more detailed provisions specific to health care and ambulatory care facilities. Adoption of this code would provide minimum requirements for the installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, performance, and safe practices of healthcare 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).

In with the new

Adoption of the 2012 LSC for Health Care Facilities Code (applicable to hospitals, LTC facilities, CAHs, Hospice inpatient facilities, PACE, RNHCIs) would make the following changes:

  • Allow facilities to increase suite sizes
  • Require all high-rise buildings over 75 feet 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 (assignment of a person or persons to an area for the express purpose of notifying appropriate people during an emergency) or a building evacuation if a sprinkler system is out of service for more than 4 hours, and
  • Require smoke control in anesthetizing locations.

The key changes for ASCs:

  • 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 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 4 hours, and
  • Require smoke control in anesthetizing locations.

The major changes for  ICF-IIDs:

  • Sprinkler requirements to include habitable areas, closets, roofed porches, balconies and decks in new facilities
  • Require all attics to have a sprinkle system if they’re used for living purposes, storage or housing of fuel fired equipment — if they aren’t used for these purposes, attics may have heat detection systems instead
  • Require all designated means of escape be free from obstruction
  • Require new facilities to have smoke alarms installed on all levels
  • Allow access-controlled egress doors to be equipped with electrical lock hardware to prevent residents from wandering away
  • Require hazardous areas to be separated from other parts of the building by smoke partitions, and
  • Require existing facilities to include certain fire alarm features when they choose to update their fire alarm systems.

Currently, the proposed rule is on display at and will be published in the April 16, 2014 Federal Register.

If you want to submit a comment, the deadline is June, 16, 2014.


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