Safety Codes Now Require Fire Sprinklers in Nursing Homes, Nightclubs, 1-2 Family Dwellings

August 11, 2005

Fire sprinklers will soon be required in all nursing homes, in new construction of one- and two-family dwellings, and in all new construction of nightclubs and like facilities, as well as for existing nightclubs and like facilities with capacities over 100, under new national building safety codes.

The codes were developed by the standards council of the National Fire Protection Association and endorsed by the NFPA World Safety Conference & Exposition in early June in Las Vegas.

The provisions apply to the 2006 editions of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code. They go into effect on Aug. 18.

“The code provision for sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings is a milestone in fire protection,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA president. “It is a significant step in reducing the rate of fire death and injury in the place where people are at most risk for fire – their own homes.”

The nightclub provision for sprinklers, which mandates sprinklers for new nightclubs, generally applicable to more than 50-occupant capacities, was first added to NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000, after the NFPA’s standards council had approved a tentative interim amendment in 2003. A similar interim amendment was issued for existing nightclubs with capacities over 100. These came in the aftermath of the February 2003 Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., where 100 people died.

Also in 2003, horrific nursing home fires in Hartford and Nashville propelled the health care industry, as well as NFPA, to respond with a push for better fire protection in these facilities, specifically calling for enhancing the current requirement in NFPA 101 for sprinklers in all new nursing homes by also requiring sprinklers in all existing nursing homes. In a news release issued by NFPA in October of that year, Shannon said, “These tragedies have taught us that we must do more to keep our elderly and disabled safe from fire.”

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