New legislation calls for sprinkler system compliance

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Rep. John Larson (D-CT) plans to reintroduce legislation this Congress that would ensure that every nursing home in the country eventually is equipped or retrofitted with automatic fire sprinkler systems within five years of the bill's adoption.

The "Nursing Facility Fire Safety Act" would create a funding stream to pay for sprinkling through Medicaid and Medicare. The act would also permit providers to amortize over five years the cost of retrofitting existing facilities and those facilities that have proceeded with retrofits since September 2003. That was when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services adopted the requirement that all newly constructed facilities have sprinkler systems.

The proposal is largely in response to two fatal nursing home fires in recent years in Hartford, CT and Nashville, TN. The measure was originally introduced late last year.