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Life Safety Code & Health Facility Construction
Any Health Care Facility licensed by the State of NH must be in compliance with the NH State Fire Code including, but not limited to, the Life Safety Code NFPA 101 and the International Building Code. These codes and standards include requirements for sprinkler systems, fire alarms, building code issues, means of egress, and other important fire safety measures.

We hope this information assists owner/operators, architects and contractors as to the minimum life safety code requirements before they invest time and money into a licensed health care facility including residential care.

How does the state Life Safety Code apply?

The Bureau of Health Facilities Administration receives many inquiries from individuals interested in constructing or renovating buildings for use as assisted living facilities. Given the long term trend in assisted living towards serving residents of higher acuity levels, we have consulted with the State Fire Marshal to better understand how the latest changes in the State Fire Code affect assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

The 2003 edition of the NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, defines the differences between a residential board and care facility and a healthcare facility. A residential board and care facility is defined as "a building or portion thereof that is used for lodging and boarding of 4 or more residents not related by blood or marriage to the owner or operator for the purpose of providing personal care services." Personal care services means "the care of residents who do not require chronic or convalescent medical or nursing care."

In contrast, health care occupancy is defined as "an occupancy used for purposes of medical or other treatment or care of 4 or more persons where such occupants are mostly incapable of self preservation due to age, physical or mental disability, or because of security measures not under the occupant's control".

Given the above definitions, new construction standards for assisted living facilities to be licensed under He-P 804 at a minimum they would fall under the residential board and care chapter. Facilities to be licensed at the supported residential care level (He-P 805) or at the nursing home level (He-P 803) must meet the health care occupancy chapter due to the greater acuity of residents living in supported residential care settings or nursing homes. The specific references in the Life Safety Code are NFPA 101- for residential board and care occupancy and NFPA 101- for health care occupancy.

For Questions and Other Assistance, Contact:

Wendy Smigelski
Telephone: (603) 271-9037

You may also call your local Municipal Office or Fire Chief.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
129 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3852

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