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CMS Releases New Fire Safety Requirements for Hospitals

Hospitals and other health care facilities have until July 3 to comply with newly updated fire safety regulations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

In a recently published final rule, CMS adopted updated provisions from the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code and the Health Care Facilities Code. This rule allows health care facilities to modernize their environment to reflect a more home-like design while ensuring Medicare beneficiaries remain safe from fire, smoke, and panic.

The rule covers construction, protection, and operational features in health care facilities, including through these provisions:

  • Health care facilities in buildings that are taller than 75 feet are required to install automatic sprinkler systems within 12 years after the rule’s effective date.
  • Health care facilities are required to have a fire watch or building evacuation if their sprinkler system is out of service for more than 10 hours.
  • Fireplaces will be permitted in spaces with smoke barriers on all sides and without a one-hour fire wall rating, which can make a facility more home-like for residents.
  • Cooking facilities now may have an opening to the hallway corridor. This will permit residents of inpatient facilities, such as nursing homes, to make food for themselves or others if they choose, and, if the patient does decide to make food, facility staff can supervise the patient.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Matt Buechner is the policy and advocacy associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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