An Update on Recent Life Safety Rule Changes

Bruce G. Baron, Esq.

In our Fall 2017 and Fall 2018 Newsletters, we reported that CMS and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) were studying possible corrections to the Fire Safety Evaluation System (FSES) to lessen unexpected adverse impacts on nursing facility providers.  On July 18, 2019, CMS published a Proposed Rule, 84 Federal Register 34737, that would amend 42 CFR § 483.90 (Physical environment) with proposed corrections to solve this problem: “to allow older existing LTC facilities to continue to use the 2001 Fire Safety Equivalency System (FSES) mandatory values when determining compliance for containment, extinguishment, and people movement requirements…to remain in compliance…without incurring substantial expenses to change their construction types, while maintaining resident and staff safety.” 

In the Rulemaking, CMS recognized that the 2012 FSES requirements had unexpected consequences for many older facilities.  CMS provided a temporary fix for the problem by authorizing “5-year Time-Limited Waivers” of the 2012 FSES requirements.  If this Proposed Rule becomes effective, it will eliminate the need for such waivers in most cases.  We recommend that nursing facility providers with current waivers or awaiting waiver determinations review the Proposed Rule with their engineering and architectural consultants to confirm that the Proposed Rule will eliminate their waiver needs. 

If you or your consultants have questions about the Proposed Rule or your current time-limited waivers, you may contact Bruce G. Baron, Esq. ( at our Firm.