CMS Memo Permits LSC Waivers to Aid with Culture Change in Facilities

Image 102

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) has notified us, following numerous discussions, that the Life Safety Committee and AHCA’s Life Safety Consultant, Tom Jaeger had with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a Survey & Certification memorandum that permits waivers for certain changes in the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code has been issued. This is a positive change that will help remove obstacles to facilities seeking to create a change of culture in their facilities.  The CMS memo addresses updates to policy regarding Capacity of the Means of Egress, Cooking Facilities, Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning, and Furnishings, Mattresses, and Decorations.

Recent changes to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Life Safety Code (LSC) 2012 edition allow:

  • Previously restricted items to be placed in exit corridors;
  • The recognition that a kitchen is of a hazardous area and can be open to an exit corridor under certain circumstances;
  • Changes allowing the installation of direct-vent gas fireplaces and solid fuel burning fireplaces; and
  • Changes to the requirements allowing the installation of combustible decorations.  

These are the changes related to physical plant and life safety requirements that presented barriers to some culture change efforts in facilities. It is important to note that each waiver request will be considered individually. Per the S&C memo, “All waiver requests will be processed in the regular fashion with input from the State Survey Agency and final approval by the CMS Regional Office.”  The Memo is now posted on the CMS website.

AHCA is developing a Life Safety Update related to this S&C memo. The Update will include (1) what CMS will expect to be included in a waiver application; and (2) other questions related to this S&C memo that we have already received.