DCA Adopts New Nursing Home Sprinkler Rule

 All New Jersey Nursing Homes To Have Automatic Sprinkler Systems

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Commissioner Susan Bass Levin today announced that all nursing homes in New Jersey will now be required to have automatic sprinkler systems.  The rule went into effect on January 2, 2007.

“Sprinklers are vital to fire protection and play a major role in reducing the chance of fire fatalities,” said Commissioner Levin.  “This requirement is a major step forward in insuring the safety of the state’s seniors as well as those who work in nursing homes.”

The newly adopted rule amends the retrofit requirements of the State’s Uniform Fire Code (N.J.A.C 5:70-4.7), which previously had allowed nursing homes constructed of noncombustible materials to be exempt from the sprinkler system requirement.  These types of structures, however, still pose the risk of fatal fire due to combustible building contents.  Nursing home owners will have three years from January 2, 2007, to bring their facilities into compliance.

“New Jersey has been a leader in resident fire safety measures for decades,” said Paul Langevin, President of the Health Care Association of New Jersey.  “This measure is the final step in providing protection to residents who reside in long term care facilities.”

Analysis by the National Fire Protection Association has shown that nursing home fire related fatalities can be reduced by as much as 82% when an automatic sprinkler system is present.  A 2004 report by the Government Accountability Office on nursing home safety concluded that sprinklers are considered to be the single most effective fire protection feature and that there has never been a multiple-death fire in a fully sprinklered nursing home.  Click here to view the report.

For more information on the new sprinkler requirements, please log on to http://www.nj.gov/dca/codes/ or call 609-292-7899.