Sprinklers in Nursing Homes

Missouri is getting close to passing a law that will require fire sprinklers in group homes that are licensed after August 2007. This article describes how the bill will work. [Joplin Globe]

Let me take a moment to explain something here. The most widely adopted code in many jurisdictions (around here anyway) is the International Building Code (IBC). The IBC has mandated sprinkles in group homes and other institutional occupancies for quite a while now (all the way back to 2000 for sure). International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI), and Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) are now all under the International Codes Council (ICC) which publishes the IBC. Confused yet? I’m not sure what the Uniform Building Code (UBC) requires for group homes but if I had to make a guess, they have also mandated sprinklers in group homes. I’m sure there are more codes out there I just don’t have to concern myself with them. Each jurisdiction, city, county, township, village, etc. will adopt a code (essentially establishing the code as law) to standardize how buildings shall be built in their respective towns/areas. That’s what I mean when I say, “the most widely adopted code.”

My point is this, there’s a difference between local code and state law. Sometimes the codes contradict each other. One code might mandate sprinklers another code might not (that’s the primary reason for consolidating the codes under the ICC umbrella). The law will now say that sprinklers must be installed no matter what the local codes say so builders, and owners, will have to install them because it’s (will be) state law. Approving this bill is the states way of standardizing a sprinkler requirement in Missouri.

If you’re looking for a home for a relative you probably don’t have to worry about sprinklers not being installed in homes built after the year 2000 (maybe earlier) but there may be some. One way to make sure there is fire protection where your relative(s) live is to look at the ceiling and check for sprinklers.

If this bill works in reality as well as it does on paper all of Missouri’s residents in nursing and other long term homes will be safe(r) by the year 2015.


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