What constitutes equivalencies in NFPA 101â, Life Safety Codeâ, for the open kitchens found in today's health care facilities? And what is the role of NFPA and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) when it comes to applying code requirements?
Other topics addressed in this issue's "In Compliance" include a preview of important issues related to the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Codeâ;new changes to NFPA 72â, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Codeâ, for occupant evacuation elevators; and how issues related to smoke compartments in health care occupancies are addressed in NFPA 101 and NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems.
The lead item, by Robert Solomon, director of Building Fire Protection & Fire Protection Systems at NFPA, begins with an account of a question received by NFPA’s technical questions service (TQS) and expands into a fundamental explanation of how NFPA codes are applied and what constitutes an AHJ. The question, from a user of NFPA 101, involved a health care occupancy open-kitchen equivalency that had been accepted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CSM. The equivalency did not strictly follow the requirements of the 2012 edition of NFPA 101, however, and the user raised further questions about whether they had to follow the letter of the code, or if the CMS ruling was sufficient.
“In this particular case, CMS is the AHJ, and it is ultimately the prerogative of CMS to apply and interpret the code as they see fit,” Solomon writes. “While the TQS offered by NFPA can assist AHJs, designers, installers, and others who rely on the code contents to apply and understand the requirements, [NFPA has] no regulatory authority to make final decisions, override judgments of others, or offer opinions that are contrary to what our codes and standards require.”
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