The NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced that all nursing homes in New Jersey will now be required to have automatic sprinkler systems. The rule originally went into effect on January 2, 2007 and owners had three years to bring their facilities into compliance.

The rule amends the retrofit requriements of the State’s Uniform Fire Code (N.J.A. C5:70-4.7), which previously had allowed nursing homes constructed of non-combustible materials to be exempt from the sprinkler system requirment. These type structures, however, still pose the risk of fatal fire due to combustible building contents.

There were two fatal nursing home fires in 2003: one in Hartford, Connecticut in which 16 residents died and one in Nashville, Tennesse resulting in 15 deaths. Both of these homes were constructed of non-combustible materials and did not have sprinkler systems.

Analysis by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of data from 1994-1998 shows that there were 10.8 deaths per 1,000 fires in nursing homes without sprinklers versus 1.9 deaths per 1,000 fires when automatic suppression systems were present. in July, 2004, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on nursing home fire safety. This report was prepared in response to the fatal fires mentioned above. The GAO report begins its findings by pointing out 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.”

For more information on the new nursing home sprinkler requirements contact Associated Fire Protection at sales@associatedfire.com or call us at 866-812-3473