All of NCAL's proposals to update standards for existing assisted living buildings for the 2012 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code were approved by written ballot by the NFPA Technical Committee on Board and Care Facilities. The next step in the approval process is that the NFPA will publish a Report on Proposals showing all the proposals made and the committee’s action on each proposal. At this point, AHCA/NCAL life safety consultant Thomas Jaeger is not anticipating any significant public comments on the committee’s actions concerning NCAL’s proposals. The upcoming approval process is as follows:
· The Report on Proposals will be posted June 12, 2010.
· The public comment period closes Sept. 3, 2010.
· The committee will meet to act on comments Oct. 18 or 19, 2010.
· A Report on Comments (ROC) will posted Feb. 25, 2011.
· The membership will vote on the ROC in June 2011 at NFPA annual meeting in Boston.
Jaeger submitted the proposed changes in 2009 on NCAL’s behalf in response to growing concern among fire safety officials and other experts that greater numbers of assisted living residents now cannot evacuate without assistance, given the growth of dementia units and higher disability levels in some communities as residents age in place. While ensuring a high level of safety for residents, the proposed changes would reduce the monetary impact on an existing facility whose evacuation capability classification goes from slow to impractical. The changes would affect existing, large (more than 16 residents) facilities and impact states and local government entities that reference the Life Safety Code in their licensure requirements or base their fire safety requirements on the Life Safety Code. A description of the proposed changes can be found at: http://www.ahcancal.org/advocacy/Letters/ProposedChangesNFPALifeSafetyCode.pdf.
NCAL is also developing proposals for new construction to submit to the International Code Council committee updating the International Building Code. One of NCAL’s major objectives is to bring the two major sets of life safety standards applying to assisted living – the Life Safety Code and International Building Code – into harmony with one another.