Facility Dude

Fire sprinklers and nursing homes: What you need to know

By Amy Myers
Jul 07, 2014

Healthcare, Facilities Management, Industry News

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Fire sprinklers and nursing homes: What you need to know Being the facilities manager at a nursing home carries with it the added weight of your responsibility for the residents. In addition to the medical staff on hand, making sure that the facility is properly equipped and up to code is a huge part of keeping senior residents healthy and safe. Recent legislation has made staying on top of facility maintenance more important than ever, so learning the ins and outs of the regulations is important.

Recent requirements

Unfortunately, due to a lack of proper equipment, nursing homes tend to have a grim history when it comes to fire safety. In 2003, a series of nighttime nursing home fires led to over 30 deaths across the country, The New York Times reported. In both cases, the nursing homes in question did not have proper fire sprinkler systems installed. And the National Fire Protection Association reported to The New York Times that nursing homes saw an average of five fire-related deaths each year between 2006 and 2010.

In 2008 a regulation was passed requiring all nursing homes to install a fully functioning fire sprinkler system by 2013. Those homes that didn't comply would be ineligible to participate in Medicare or Medicaid, and will be cited with a deficiency tag.

Maintenance and upkeep

Once sprinkler systems have been installed, careful and fastidious maintenance is an important part of preserving the integrity of the system. In larger facilities with multiple complicated systems to keep track of, tools such as a CMMS are invaluable for keeping on top of inspection, maintenance and repair. Such tools can greatly improve a facility manager's ability to track maintenance schedules, respond to work orders and assign repair personnel through a convenient centralized dashboard.

Such efficiency can go hand-in-hand with existing regulations for the inspection and maintenance of fire sprinklers. NFPA 25, published by the National Fire Protection Agency, governs testing and maintenance for sprinkler systems, providing facility managers a baseline with regards to the schedule and procedures involved in proper maintenance. The guidelines provide standards for common pitfalls that are to be inspected, such as corrosion, sprinklers that have been painted over and those that have not been given proper clearance due to storage boxes that have been stacked too close to the ceiling.

Proper inspection and maintenance protocol must also follow a scheduled timeline as indicated by the NFPA, and the adoption of a CMMS to help track such maintenance schedules is a useful step in ensuring your facility adheres to government standards regarding this important safety consideration.

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