Tennessee House passes sprinkler legislation

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Tennessee's House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill requiring all nursing homes to install smoke detectors in resident rooms and submit sprinkler installation plans to the state. This was in response to two fires within the past year in Tennessee that killed 20.

From the date of final passage, nursing homes will have 90 days to install alarms in each resident's room. Multi-story facilities must submit full sprinkler installation plans to the Department of Health within six months, while single-story facilities will have 11 months.  State Rep. Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory), also a firefighter, asked that all facilities "hard wire" their alarms as opposed to using battery operated devices.

The cost for sprinkler installation, estimated at $6.4 million, would be picked up through Medicare capital improvement reimbursements.

This will affect about 77 nursing homes, 15 assisted living facilities and 94 homes for the aged that do not have enough sprinklers, according to Tennessee's Department of Health and AARP.

The bill will now go to the Senate. Its Finance Committee will hear the legislation Tuesday.