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Big Changes Coming in NFPA Health Facilities Standard

NFPA 99, the National Fire Protection Association's standard addressing fire safety and health care facilities, is being extensively revised for its 2010 edition, which will be up for adoption at the June 8-11 NFPA Conference & Expo at Chicago's McCormick Place, according to an article in the NFPA Journal's January/February issue. The standard has not been given a major overhaul since being adopted in 1983, wrote author Richard P. Bielen, P.E., NFPA's director of Fire Protection Engineering and staff liaison for NFPA 99.

How health care is delivered in the United States has changed greatly since the early 1980s, with procedures once done in large health facilities now taking place in doctor's offices, clinics, and ambulatory surgery centers. That's why the standard is being changed to a risk-based model, one intended to minimize the risk to a patient regardless of where the care is administered, Bielen noted. Heating, plumbing, security, and IT and communication systems are areas that will be addressed in the 2010 version that weren't addressed previously.

And the standard's name is changing, subtly but significantly, to Health Care Facilities Code. This indicates it is "no longer an installation document, but something much more comprehensive: a code that determines the performance criteria for health care facilities," he wrote.

Visit this site to read NFPA President Jim Shannon's comments in the Journal about fire and life safety priorities he hopes the Obama administration will address, including more funding for emergency responders and addressing the training and equipment needs of responders faced with emergencies involving alternative energy, such as hydrogen-fueled and electric cars. Visit this site to hear a podcast about the NFPA 99 proposed changes and Shannon's comments.

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