Compliance With Florida’s “Generator” Laws
Earlier this year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law HB7099 and SPB7028 (collectively referred to as the “Bills”), ratifying emergency rules that require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to acquire alternative power sources- such as generators- and fuel in preparation of the upcoming hurricane season. See Rule 59A-4.1265 and Rule 58A-5.036. These rules were enacted after 14 residents died from heat-related illnesses and complications during Hurricane Irma last year when a Florida nursing home lost power to its air conditioning units for three days.
The Bills went into effect on March 28, 2018, and required qualifying facilities to come into compliance by June 1, 2018, unless granted an extension by the Governor whereby compliance is expected by January 2019. Facilities that can show delays caused by necessary construction, delivery of ordered equipment, zoning, or other regulatory approval processes are eligible for an extension if the facility can provide residents an area that meets the ambient temperature requirements for 96 hours. Extensions are granted on a case-by-case basis, although so far a majority of Florida facilities have been granted an extension. Indeed, it appears that over 77% of nursing homes received an extension in the first week of June. Additionally, facilities located in an evacuation zone pursuant to Chapter 252, F.S., must either evacuate its residents prior to the arrival of any emergency event, or have an alternative power source and no less than 96 hours of fuel stored onsite at least within 24 hours of the issuance of a state of emergency. Failure to comply with any provision may result in the revocation or suspension of a facility’s license and/or the imposition of administrative fines.
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities Must Develop Emergency Plans that Provide for Alternative Power Sources and Fuel Capable of Maintaining an Ambient Temperature of No Greater Than 81 Degrees Fahrenheit for At Least 96 Hours.
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities must prepare a detailed plan (“Plan”) that provides for the acquisition and maintenance of alternative power sources- such as generators- and fuel. The Plan will supplement a facility’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and must be submitted to and approved by the requisite agency. While the Bills do not require facilities to maintain a specific type of power system or equipment; the alternative power sources utilized by a facility must be capable of maintaining an ambient temperature of no greater than 81 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 96 hours after the loss of primary electrical power. This temperature must be maintained in areas of sufficient size to shelter residents safely. Alternative power sources and fuel should be maintained in accordance with local zoning restrictions and the Florida Building Code.
Moreover, the Bills set forth additional requirements for nursing homes and assisted living facilities in evacuation zones, as well as for single campus and multistory facilities.
Facilities in Evacuation Zones – A facility in an evacuation zone pursuant to Chapter 252, F.S. must provide in their Plan for the maintenance of an alternative power source and fuel at all times when the facility is occupied but may utilize mobile generators to facilitate evacuation.
Single Campus – Single campus facilities under common ownership may share alternative power sources and fuel space if such resources are sufficient to maintain the ambient temperature required under the rules.
Multistory Facilities – Multistory facilities, whose Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan comprises of moving residents to a higher floor during flood or surge events, must place their alternative power source and all additional equipment in a location protected from flooding or storm surge damage.
Fuel Storage Requirements Vary by Facility Size and Location.
The Bills require facilities to provide for storage of a certain amount of fuel based on their size and location. Assisted living facilities with 16 beds or less must store a minimum of 48 hours of fuel, while assisted living facilities with 17 beds or more a required to store a minimum of 72 hours of fuel. All nursing homes must store a minimum of 72 hours of fuel. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in a declared state of emergency area pursuant to Section 252.36, F.S., that may impact primary power delivery, must secure 96 hours of fuel; these facilities may utilize portable fuel storage containers for the remaining fuel necessary for 96 hours during the period of a declared state of emergency.
Emily Budicin, a 2018 Summer Associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office, contributed significantly to the preparation of this post.