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National Long-term Care Life Safety Task Force

Summary of Proposals Approved by NFPA

A Rothschild Regulatory Task Force
Pioneer Network is pleased to announce that all of the proposals that its National Long-term Care Life Safety Task Force: A Rothschild Regulatory Task Force submitted to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have been approved and will be incorporated into the 2012 edition of NFPA 101® Life Safety Code®. The new edition of the Code can be ordered from NFPA.

We are proud to report that the description of the publication on the NFPA website indicates that there are: "Revisions in health care occupancy rules to foster a more comfortable, home-like environment." This is due to the work of the Task Force which was made possible by support from the Hulda B. and Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation.

The four proposals cover the following areas that will help to "create home in the nursing home."

Kitchens will be permitted to be open to other spaces, and the corridor, as long as they meet all of the following criteria:
  • May use either residential or commercial stoves or cooktops

  • The kitchen cannot serve more than 30 residents

  • The kitchen must be within a smoke compartment and must only serve residents in that smoke compartment.  However, if you have a building that has multiple smoke compartments, each one may have an open kitchen.

  • The smoke compartment where the kitchen is located, whether new or existing building, must be fully sprinkled.

  • A range hood must be provided with a fire suppression system, grease clean-out capability and a 500 cfm fan.  You can get all of this in a hood manufactured by "Cooksafe," or combine a higher end residential hood with a UL 300a fire suppression system.

  • Hoods may be vented to the exterior or re-circulating but do not need to meet full commercial hood requirements.

  • Local smoke alarms that are not tied into the fire alarm system may be provided in the area of the open kitchen.

Seating in corridors:
Furniture may be provided in corridors when they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Furniture must be attached to the wall or floor to prevent it from migrating into the required hallway clearance or moving from its intended location.  This can be achieved with a simple metal bracket that is screwed to the legs of the chair and to the floor.  The bracket could be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance purposes.

  • Furniture in the corridor may not reduce the clear width of the corridor to less than 6 feet.  That means if you have an 8ft corridor, you can have a maximum chair depth of 2 ft.  If you have a 12 ft corridor, you could have up to 6 ft of furniture depth.

  • Furniture must be located only on one side of the corridor.  This will allow residents to navigate the hallway continuously without having to weave back and forth across the hallway to get around seating areas.  This also helps emergency responders.

  • There are limits to how long a seating area can be and how far apart they must be spaced but these are all very generous.

  • The building must be sprinkled and must have smoke detectors in the corridors.

Combustible decorations will be permitted in resident rooms, corridors, on doors, and in common space. There are limitations on the percentage of coverage depending on whether the building is sprinklered and where located. 

This proposal will allow gas or electric fireplaces to be used in smoke compartments that contain sleeping rooms, but not within individual sleeping rooms.  Some of the restrictions are that the controls must be locked and a sealed glass front must be provided to prevent anyone from throwing object into the flames.

Next steps include advocating for the adoption of the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and subsequent adoption by states across the country.

Download Summary of Proposals as approved by NFPA (PDF)