The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) is urging its members and others to support the Long-Term Care Life Safety Act, a new bill introduced by Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-N.Y.
Introduced recently at the request of NBFAA, the legislation (H.R. 2882) is designed to establish a grant program within the Department of Health and Human Services to promote professional retrofit installation of fire alarm detection systems and other fire prevention technologies in assisted living and hospice facilities, and nursing homes.
Other organizations supporting the bill include Assisted Living Federation of America, National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), National Center for Assisted Living and the New York State Health Facilities Association, a state affiliate of the American Health Care Association.
“This bill promotes the installation of fire alarm detection systems in long-term health-care facilities and we are very pleased to see that Congressman Arcuri has worked with the NBFAA to ensure that fire safety in these facilities involves both detection and suppression,” says George Gunning, NBFAA president.
In a letter to NFBAA members, Gunning explains further:
“Only automatic and manual fire alarm systems give advanced notice to all of the occupants, staff and just as importantly, the fire departments and emergency first responders. Standalone smoke alarms are not fire alarm systems and are not Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Listed for commercial use. The elderly in these facilities often cannot save themselves, and many times lack the hearing capacity to listen for the shrill beeping of a smoke alarm. Smoke detectors installed on a fire alarm system are UL Listed for commercial use and have audio and visual notification appliances required by the Americans with Disabilities Act for the hearing impaired. It is this advanced warning that accounts for an impressive decline in fire deaths in the U.S.”
NFBAA is working closely with Arcuri to have the bill considered by the House Ways and Means, Health Subcommittee and sent to the full House for support during the current session of Congress.
“It is our second initiative in this Congress aimed at recognizing fire alarm detection as a vital part of fire prevention technologies,” says NBFAA Government Relations Committee chairman Michael Meridith. “This is the first time that we are supported in this effort by other professional associations, especially in the long-term care industry.”
Meridith, who is president of Security Equipment Inc. in Omaha, Neb., says fire alarm detection must be coupled with suppression/sprinklers systems in order to provide optimal fire safety. In fact, NBFAA has in the past year undertaken a national campaign entitled “Fire Detection + Suppression = Fire Safety.”
“It seems quite clear to our industry that in the past only sprinklers were considered when rules were developed. This is unfair to the elderly in these facilities, their doctors, nurses, health practitioners and staff, as well as the families of the elderly who rely on the facility to be fire safe utilizing all best efforts to include detection with suppression capabilities,” adds Meridith.