On October 16, 2019, notices were published in the Florida Administrative Record on the changes to the regulations governing Assisted Living Life Safety Code. The changes require action by each assisted living facility (ALF), and it is important that ALF administrators understand the changes.
The first change is to 69A-40.024 Scope. This change defines what facilities are included in the changes. The scope of the rule is about life safety during fires and similar emergencies. The next change is to 69A-40.028 Standards of the National Fire Protection Association Adopted. This section states that the ALF is covered under the new rule unless they are defined as a legacy facility. If not a legacy facility, then the ALF must abide by the uniform standards applicable to assisted living facilities in Florida. These are the standards of the National Fire Protection Association for life safety from fire in the editions of the NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 101A, Guide on Alternative Approaches to Life Safety, which are incorporated by reference in Rule 69A-3.012, F.A.C.. Section 633.202, F.S., requires the State Fire Marshal to adopt a new edition of the Florida Fire Prevention Code every three years.
The next change is to 69A-40.029 Evacuation Capability Evaluation in Legacy Facilities. The administrator of each Legacy Facility must conduct an “Evacuation Capability Evaluation,” and the local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) shall validate the evacuation capability evaluation. This means that the evacuation capability evaluation form is to be reviewed by the local AHJ to ensure completeness in accordance to Chapter 5, NFPA 101A, Guide to Alternative Approaches in Life Safety, 1995 edition. The next rule change is a notice that 69A-40.031 was being repealed. The last rule change is for 69A-40.035 Code Conflict Resolution. This rule states how code conflicts with local government should be resolved.
There are several important items in these rule changes that assisted living administrators should take note and action. The first is the definition of a “Legacy facility” according to 69A-40.027. A Legacy facility is an ALF that has elected to comply with the option afforded in Section 429.41(1)(a)2.d.,F.S. This section states that an assisted living facility issued a building permit or certificate of occupancy before July 1, 2016, may, at its option and after notifying the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), remain under the provisions of the 1994 and 1995 editions of the National Fire Protection Association, Life Safety Code, NFPA 101, and NFPA 101A. The administrator must notify the local Fire Marshal and received receipt of that notification as proof to remain under this building code. A designated Legacy facility that undergoes Level III building alteration or rehabilitation must thereafter comply with all aspects of the uniform firesafety standards established under s 633.206 under the Fire Prevention Code.
Another important item to note for facilities not designated as a Legacy facility is that the Florida Fire Code changes every three years. Thus, the code to follow will change, and this change will need to be followed.