Tri-State Fire Protection District crews provided final extinguishment, preventing major damage and possible deaths. The successful fire sprinkler activation at Emeritus of Burr Ridge is a model example of why the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now requires fire sprinklers in all new and existing long-term care facilities nationwide. The CMS federal rule requiring fire sprinklers in long-term care facilities became effective on August 13, 2013, following a five-year phase-in timeframe after publication in 2008. The rule, which applies to Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) that are regulated by CMS for Medicare and Medicaid licensure, is a direct result of two deadly nursing home fires in 2003 — one in Hartford, Connecticut, and the other in Nashville, Tennessee. Any SNFs that are not fully sprinklered are now cited for a deficiency and they must submit a plan of correction and achieve fire sprinkler installation within three months. After the three-month period, the Social Security Act requires that any facility that is not in substantial compliance will be subject to a denial of payment of new admissions and termination from Medicare participation at the end of six months. According to a June 2013 CMS survey, there are 19 SNFs in Illinois that are not yet sprinklered, and 195 facilities that are only partially sprinklered. Nationwide, 1281 facilities were not yet compliant. The survey notes that some of those deficiencies may have been corrected since the survey results were published. The Emergency Management Alliance is a partnership formed by leaders in risk management, fire and life safety, and security administration to provide the healthcare community with the tools needed for disaster planning, response, and recovery. Cofounder Stan Szpytek advises several state nursing home associations regarding the new rule. He says he is working to make sure that local authorities nationwide are fully informed of the requirements to prevent fire deaths in long-term care facilities. “Fortunately, the nursing home in Burr Ridge was compliant with the newly enacted federal rule and protected by a fire sprinkler system,” adds Tom Lia, executive director of the nonprofit Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board. “Residents and staff of long-term care facilities will now be fire-safe thanks to the federal government recognizing the true value of quick-response fire sprinklers saving lives and property.”  ]]>