Companion sprinkler bill introduced in Senate

Share this content:

Sens. Christopher Dodd and Richard Burr (R-NC) have introduced a bill that would pave the way for making every nursing home in the nation fully equipped with sprinklers.

The bill is a companion to a measure recently introduced in the House. Both bills would enable providers to receive loans or "hardship" grants to undertake what often is expensive retrofitting for sprinklers. The bill would authorize $450 million for loans and $100 million for grants over five years.

While the price tag might be seen as an impediment to passage, the bill's supporters, which include the major long-term care associations, point out this would be a one-time request for funding. The bills have been proposed previously; supporters are hoping they have a better chance this time around with Democrats in control of Congress.

Currently, about 83% of facilities are fully sprinklered, 14% are partially and 3% are not at all, according to figures quoted by the American Health Care Association. All new construction has required full sprinklering for numerous years.