NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 71

should be a safe arrangement while also
providing the needed security."
Another proposed revision in the
2021 edition addresses school drills.
Previous editions required schools to
perform a fire drill each month-any
other drills, such as those for active
shooters or tornadoes, had to be conducted in addition to the fire drills.
"Schools were kind of being put on
emergency drill overload, and teachers were finding that they didn't have
enough time to do what they're really
there for, which is education," Harrington said. Proposed language for
2021 would allow schools to substitute
two fire drills per year for other kinds
of drills as they see fit.
Health care, CO alarms, and sprinklers
A number of other changes throughout
the code could have large impacts on
an array of occupancies.
Responding to concerns in the
health care sector, the committee has
made changes to alleviate some of
the unforeseen noncompliance issues
that occurred when the Centers for
Medicare & Medicaid Services recently
updated to the 2012 version of the Life
Safety Code. For example, some nursing
homes had previously installed nonrequired sprinklers to compensate for
building construction deficiencies-a
move that was allowed previously
by using NFPA 101A, Alternative
Approaches to Life Safety, but became
noncompliant when CMS updated to
the newer edition of the code. Proposed
language in the 2021 edition would
remedy this unintended consequence.
Another change that could have a
significant impact on health care and
other occupancies is a proposed revision
that would eliminate the inspection,
testing, and maintenance requirements
for extraneous fire doors that aren't
required by code. Those fire doors would
now be treated as regular doors, resulting in time and cost savings for facilities.
In certain residential occupancies,
the proposed 2021 Life Safety Code
would add requirements for all existing
hotels and dormitories to be outfitted
with carbon monoxide detection, as
well as new requirements for low-frequency alarm signals in sleeping rooms

of new hotels, dorms, and new apartment buildings.
The committee also proposed eliminating the option of forgoing sprinklers
in most types of high-rise buildings that
don't already have what are known as
approved engineered life safety systems
(ELSS). ELSS were put in place in the
1980s as an alternative to retrofitting
existing high-rise buildings with automatic fire sprinklers. The committee
eliminated the option for some existing
buildings that don't already have an
ELSS. The code continues to mandate
that all new high-rises have sprinklers.
"What this means is, if this edition
of the Life Safety Code gets adopted,
unless you already had a previously
approved engineered life safety system,
this requirement would say you've got
to go into your building and install
sprinklers within a specified number of
years, depending on the occupancy clas-

" If you' r e on a
s us pe nde d r olle r
coas te r t y pe of
att rac tion, you'r e
not jus t going to
unhar nes s your s el f
and jump down
and walk out . "
sification," Harrington said. The move
was made with the recognition that
automatic fire sprinklers have proven
to be the simplest, most effective way of
saving lives and property, he said.
-Jesse Roman

NFPA 99
nfpa.org/99next

Two major technical changes related to
electricity in health care facilities lead the
proposed revisions to the 2021 edition of
NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code.
Health care facility microgrids
One important change has to do with
microgrids. In 2018, Kaiser Permanente
Richmond Medical Center in Richmond,
California, a 50-bed acute-care facility,

became the first hospital in the state to
install a microgrid-an on-site, localized
electrical grid delivering power to the
facility in conjunction with utility power
and, if needed, diesel-powered generators. In a press release, the center said its
new microgrid-powered by a 250-kilowatt sheet of solar panels positioned
atop a five-story parking garage-was
capable of keeping critical electrical systems running for three hours. It was also
expected to cut the facility's energy costs
by about 50 percent.
But if a facility manager, designer, or
authority having jurisdiction involved
in that project had looked to NFPA 99
for information on microgrids, they
would have found nothing. That's set
to change soon, as the 2021 edition of
NFPA 99 is expected to include new
language related to health care facility
microgrids, including performance criteria for the systems.
"The change will allow these
microgrids, which utilize green technologies like solar, geothermal, fuel
cells, batteries, and wind power, to be
more commonly used in health care
facilities," said Jon Hart, an engineering technical services lead at NFPA.
"It could save facilities money and be
more efficient than just using utility
power." The change was advocated for
by an NFPA 99 task force on electrical
systems, Hart said, and will position
the code to be more in line with global
trends focused on the use of renewable
energy sources including solar power.
The new NFPA 99 language will provide performance criteria for health
care facility microgrids, which is especially pertinent for microgrids intended
as sources of emergency backup power.
If a microgrid system is being used for
backup power, Hart said, the new language will require it to be programmed
so that it always has enough energy
stored to serve that purpose. "We
obviously wouldn't want to drain our
alternative energy resource below what
may be needed in an emergency while
we still have utility power," he said.
Inspection, testing, and maintenance
of electrical equipment
A proposal has been made for the new
edition to require hospitals to operate
N F PA . O R G / J O U R N A L * NFPA JOURNAL

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

Contents
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover1
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover2
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Contents
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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover3
NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - Cover4
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