Starting July 5, the Joint Commission will begin surveying to the 2012 version of the National Fire Protection Association’s 101 Life Safety (LS) Code—a move that follows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) lead.

Last month, CMS published “Fire Safety Requirements for Certain Health Care Facilities” to amend the fire safety standards for certain Medicaid- and Medicare-participating hospitals. Now, healthcare facilities must follow the 2012 versions of both the LS Code and the NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code referenced in the LS Code. Although the rule adopts most of CMS’ proposals from 2014, CMS removed a mandate for hospitals to install smoke-purging systems in operating rooms—something the Joint Commission wholeheartedly supports. Categorical waivers for the 2012 Life Safety Code are now available, provided the organization complies with that code’s requirements.

“The Joint Commission has advocated for this rule for many years and we are very pleased it has been adopted by CMS,” says George Mills, MBA, FASHE, CEM, CHFM, CHSP, director of engineering for the Joint Commission. “The adoption of the 2012 Life Safety Code finally allows health care organizations to take advantage of all the patient-centric features of this edition.”

As part of CMS’ final ruling, doors with roller latches will be limited only to “doors to corridors, and to rooms containing flammable or combustible materials” and facilities will be required to have a fire watch and evacuate if a sprinkler system is down for more than 10 hours. Another key provision is that wheeled transport and patient handling may be in the egress corridor, such as transport gurneys, wheel chairs, and patient lifts.