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CMS Allows Nursing Home Waivers for Life Safety Code Culture Change Provisions

by Published On: Mar 12, 2012

On March 9, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued “Instructions Concerning Waivers of Specific Requirements of the 2012 Edition of the National Fire Protection Association 101, the Life Safety Code, in Health Care Facilities – Clarification Effective Immediately,” a survey and certification letter allowing waivers for the Life Safety Code (LSC) culture change provisions that have been approved by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for inclusion in the 2012 LSC.

CMS is allowing facilities to seek waivers, without showing “unreasonable hardship” for: 

  • Increasing the amount of wall space that may be covered by combustible decorations.
  • Installing gas fireplaces in common areas.
  • Permitting permanent groupings of furniture in corridors.
  • Allowing kitchens serving less than 30 residents to be open to corridors as long as they are contained within smoke compartments.  

Waivers will be applicable to both new and existing health care occupancies. Waiver requests will be processed in accordance with standard operating procedures, with input from State Survey Agencies (SA) and final approval by CMS Regional Offices (RO). 

Each waiver request will be evaluated “…in the interest of fire safety and to ensure that the facility has followed all LSC requirements and the equipment has been installed properly."


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