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Compliance News: Building Rehabilitation Chapter 43 – 2012 Life Safety Code® Required Reading

| David Stymiest

One of the significant changes resulting from CMS’ adoption of the 2012 Life Safety Code® is the impact of the NFPA 101-2012 Building Rehabilitation Chapter 43.  Chapter 43 is intended to apply to work that the owner or occupant has elected to perform within an existing building.

In its final rule adopting the NFPA 101-2012 and NFPA 99-2012 codes, CMS stated in Federal Register page 26874:

“Any changes made to buildings will be required to comply with Chapter 43—Building Rehabilitation, which depending on the changes being made, could require compliance with the new or existing occupancy chapters. In any instances where mandatory Life Safety Code® references do not include existing chapters, such as Chapter 43—Building Rehabilitation, existing occupancies must ensure buildings and equipment are in compliance with provisions previously adopted by CMS at the time they were constructed or installed.”

The purpose of this article is to point Compliance News readers to NFPA 101-2012 Chapter 43. As with almost all compliance requirements, the knowledge of detailed code requirements is essential.  That is also true with Chapter 43.  Any individuals responsible for changes to existing facilities should consider Chapter 43 as required reading.

ASHE has an on-demand webinar for its members that can be accessed from ASHE’s 2012 Life Safety Code® adoption resource page. The ASHE webinar discusses in some detail the impact of Chapter 43 on existing health care facilities.

In general, existing elements may be repaired or renovated to match existing conditions and new elements must meet the New Construction requirements.

Chapter 43 defines the Rehabilitation Work Area in paragraph  The work area definition may be useful in understanding how to apply the Rehabilitation Work Categories listed below.  The rehabilitation work area as initially intended by the owner should be indicated as such in the construction permit documents.

Chapter 43 also defines Equipment or Fixture in paragraph  This definition generally encompasses equipment commonly encountered within building utility systems.

REHABILITATION WORK CATEGORIES (Note: the following descriptions are not the official definitions; refer to NFPA 101-2012 Chapter 43 Section for detailed definitions.)  We suggest that future rehabilitation documents use the terms below to minimize the potential for confusion regarding work categories.  The list of work categories below is in the order of least impact (REPAIR) to most comprehensive impact (ADDITION).  The rehabilitation work categories further down the list have increasingly stringent levels of compliance requirements.

REPAIR: Work such as patching, restoring, or painting existing materials, elements, equipment, or fixtures to maintain them in good or sound condition. Refer to Section 43.3 for detailed requirements.

RENOVATION: Work such as replacing in kind, strengthening, or upgrading elements, materials, equipment, or fixtures without reconfiguring building spaces. Refer to Section 43.4 for detailed requirements.

MODIFICATION: Work such as reconfiguring a space, changing a door or window, reconfiguring or extending any system, or installing new equipment. Refer to Section 43.5 for detailed requirements.

RECONSTRUCTION: Work such as (a) reconfiguration requiring occupant relocation during the project because of project impacts on means of egress and fire protection systems; or (b) reconfiguration that effects an exit or corridor shared by more than one single occupant space. Refer to Section 43.6 for detailed requirements.

CHANGE OF USE: Work that changes the purpose or level of an activity resulting in a change in applicable LS Code requirements. Refer to Section 43.7.1 for detailed requirements.  Or CHANGE OF OCCUPANCY CLASSIFICATION: Work such as changing from traditional LS Code occupancies such as Health Care, Ambulatory Health Care, Business, etc.  Refer to Section 43.7.2 for detailed requirements.

ADDITION: Work such as adding building area, aggregate floor area, building height, or number of stories.  Refer to Section 43.8 for detailed requirements.

Section 43.1.3 discusses projects that consist of multiple work categories.

Section 43.1.4 discusses general compliance requirements. This section also allows the AHJ to accept some alternatives when the requirements impose an undue hardship for technical reasons.

Chapter 43 also addresses work within historic buildings.

Questions on this article may be directed to the author at