When Governor Rick Scott announced the new regulations concerning backup generators for Florida assisted living facilities, it sent many managers and owners into a state of panic. What do we do? What are we liable for? How long will this take? What kind of generator do I need? How much fuel will it require? These are all valid and important questions to ask so we’re going to do our best to answer them right now.
What Exactly Am I Liable For?
Before we begin diving into the technical details, it would help to discuss precisely what is expected of you. The main thrust of the new regulations is fairly straightforward: nursing homes are now required to have backup generators that can power the air conditioning for at least 96 hours after the power goes out. In the event that a power failure results in your air conditioning system going offline you need to have a way to keep your residents from experiencing ambient temperatures of above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Doesn’t sound too difficult, right? The reality is that designing, building, and installing a generator that can meet even this simple requirement can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. It’s not as easy as going to the store and buying a generator and a gallon of fuel. For these backup generators for Florida assisted living facilities to be in full compliance, they will need to be very powerful and have a large stock of fuel.
Where To Begin? Assessing The Building And Determining Requirements
Before you can even begin the build process, and well before you have the generator installed, you will need to hire an engineering and design firm to analyze the building to specify requirements such as:
- Generator size
- Fuel Requirements
- Space requirements
You will also need to think about your future plans. Do you plan on expanding your building? What would happen if you added another 20 patients, would the generator still be sufficient to comply with the law? This is a regulation with life-or-death consequences and a heavy penalty (up to $1000 a day) for noncompliance, so no stone can be left unturned at any step of the process.
Generator Size Considerations
The size of the generator required depends on the size of your facility and the number and type of A/C units you have. Needless to say, determining the required size and power of the generator and ensuring it is enough to comply with regulations is a complicated process and not one you would be able to undertake without the assistance of an expert.
There’s not much leeway here; if you don’t have a backup generator that provides sufficient power then your A/C will not function as intended, your residents will be in danger, and you will be held liable under the recently enacted regulations.
How Much Fuel is Enough?
The mandate calls for 96 hours of fuel which can be anywhere from 8,000 to 15,000 gallons of diesel depending on the size of the generator. A tank of this size will be roughly 25 feet long and several feet high and can’t simply be placed anywhere, adding another layer to the complexity of complying with these new regulations. The tank must also go through special testing requirements with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection before being put into service. It must be registered with and inspected by the state on an ongoing basis. Some locations have natural gas available, which may help ease the fuel storage issue (if the state allows natural gas in the final law).
Where Should the Generator be Located?
A generator and a tank of the required size will be fairly large, so space is a primary consideration and in some cases modifications must be made to the building, adding to the amount of time required. You must also ensure that the generator is in a location that is not prone to flooding or that gets heavy traffic. Minimum flood zone elevations are in effect in most areas of the state.
Rules and Regulations Concerning Backup Generators in Florida
Backup generators for Florida assisted living facilities, and their accompanying fuel tanks, are subject to a number of regulations. Your generator enclosure must be wind and impact rated. After all, if the backup generator sustained damage during a Hurricane, these new regulations would all be for nothing.
In addition to wind and impact rating, your fuel tank must be inspected and registered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. On top of all of this, you’ll also have to deal with any local ordinances, especially those concerning noise as these backup generators can get loud.
Choosing the Right Electrical Contractor
One thing worth stressing here is that time is of the essence. Designing, fabricating, and installing a backup generator that complies with the recently enacted regulations will take many weeks (typically more than 25 weeks) and the price for noncompliance can be up to $1000 a day. You need an experienced electrical contractor whose priority is to help you comply with these regulations on time.
You can’t expect just any electrical contractor to be up to the task. You want a contractor with a breadth of experience who can handle every aspect of the process for you; keeping it all under one roof can save you time and make the project less costly.
Eau Gallie Electric will be with you every step of the way. Dealing with ACHA and the Dept of Elder Affairs (for Assisted Living Facilities) is one aspect that we include in our design-build proposals. We know the codes and automatically integrate them into our designs, so you don’t have to spend time dealing with red tape from the regulators. We have experience installing hundreds of generators across many sectors including federal, state, and local governments, as well as private businesses. Now we want to use this wealth of experience to help you and install backup generators for Florida Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities.
The new regulations concerning backup generators for Florida assisted living facilities are difficult, but not impossible, to comply with. Keep in mind, the law has not passed yet so there are no hard set rules – yet. There are about 10 different proposed bills, some with slightly different requirements (for example the requirements regarding the type of fuel). We have been keeping up with the regulations and will help you sort through the requirements. You can beat the deadline and make your nursing home a safer place for residents; you just need a little help from an experienced electrical contractor like Eau Gallie Electric.