NBFAA, CMS meet about nursing home regulation

Friday, June 1, 2007

BALTIMORE, Md.--Representatives from the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association tried to convince the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) here on May 2 to include fire detection systems in a proposed regulation that would require all nursing homes to install sprinklers.
"The meeting was very positive," said John Chwat, NBFAA legislative director. Chwat, NBFAA executive director Merlin Guilbeau and NBFAA president George Gunning met with eight representatives from CMS, "most of the officials in charge of the proposed regulation." CMS officials at the meeting included Rachel Weinstein, director of clinical standards group; Danielle Shearer, technical coordinator for the regulation; and James Merrill and Mayer Zimmerman, life safety code experts.
CMS, the division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that administers federal funds to nursing homes, last October proposed a regulation that would require all nursing homes that serve Medicare and Medicaid patients to install sprinkler systems to continue to receive funding (see "Feds to require sprinklers in nursing homes" in the December issue of Security Systems News).
The NBFAA wants CMS to require fire alarm detection equipment as well. This effort aligns with NBFAA's initiative, begun in 2006, to raise awareness of fire detection on Capitol Hill and their mantra: "Fire detection plus suppression equals fire safety."
They were "very interested in the detection side of the equation and the cost for detection equipment," Chwat said. "They posed a series of questions to us."
Chwat said the NBFAA group will meet again with CMS representatives within the next 60 to 90 days. The regulation itself will not be finalized for another eight to nine months.