Governor Rick Scott recently signed legislation making the proposed Florida nursing home emergency generator guidelines into a law. So what do you do now that these guidelines are official? The regulations themselves remain mostly unchanged, but the deadlines have shifted slightly to give you adequate time to comply. In this post, we’ll give you a quick recap of the guidelines and talk a bit about how to make your search for an emergency generator a bit easier.
A Quick Recap of the Florida Nursing Home Emergency Generator Guidelines
The Florida nursing home emergency generator guidelines dictate that all nursing homes and assisted living facilities have an alternative power supply that allows them to maintain a temperature of 81°F or less for a period of 4 days in the event of a power failure. What kind of backup power supply you should use is not specified, but the guidelines also dictate that you must provide at least 30 square feet of cool space for each resident. That means that ideally, you’re going to want something capable of cooling the entire building, or at the very least a significant part of it.
As far as fuel requirements go, nursing homes with more than 17 beds are required to keep 3 days worth of fuel on site while those with 17 or fewer are only required to keep enough for 2 days. You will have until June 1, 2018, the official start of hurricane season, to comply. Although this may seem like a tight schedule, you can request an extension until January 1, 2019, in the event that you encounter legitimate delays in the process.
What This Means Going Forward
Gov. Scott’s commitment to keeping nursing homes safe for their residents is certainly laudable, but it would be a lie to claim that it’s going to be trivial to comply with the new laws. Although some of the regulations have been relaxed and the deadline has been extended, it is still a serious undertaking. The penalty for noncompliance is steep at up to $1000 a day and in order to qualify for an extension, you need to be making a good faith effort to comply. Your first step towards compliance should be finding an electrical contractor because specifying and installing the right generator for your building is not something you can do on your own.
Portable or Standby?
Since the guidelines don’t specify what type of generator is required, you are perfectly free to use a portable generator so long as it is installed and maintained onsite. However, this may not be the best idea. When most people think of a portable generator, they imagine a small gasoline generator like you see at Home Depot. But the size generators required for most nursing homes are larger than a pickup truck and weight 6000lbs or more (some up to 80,000lbs+). So to move them around requires a heavy-duty commercial pickup or semi truck. With a portable generator, you are now taking up valuable parking places because you need to park your generator. The length of the portable generators ranges from 13ft to 50ft in length. Having a portable generator does not change the requirement for a transfer switch as the connection point for the generator. You may be imagining an extension cord, but these generators typically require 10 or more cables that are roughly 1” in diameter and weight over 50lbs each. They are made of copper wire which will be laid out across the ground, waiting to be tripped over or stolen.
Portable generators typically have 12-hour fuel tanks because of hazmat requirements carrying large amounts of fuel over the road. So you will have to have an additional fuel tank permanently plumbed into your once portable generator to meet the 72 hour run time requirements. The last and perhaps worst disadvantage of a portable generator is the federal emissions requirements for trailer-mounted generators. These units must be Tier 4 compliant, which means they cost much more money than a stationary generator and cost more to maintain. Even if you rent a portable generator and deal with all the above-mentioned issues, you still have to install a transfer switch before the deadline to comply with the new law.
Since the circumstances surrounding these new regulations could be considered life or death it would be far more useful and efficient to install a permanent standby generator that can operate automatically. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but a standby generator is highly recommended in order to fully comply with the spirit of these guidelines.
Finding The Right Electrical Contractor
If you haven’t already begun the process of complying with the Florida nursing home emergency generator guidelines, there’s no better time to start than now. This is a long process that requires a considerable amount of planning and foresight, along with a skilled professional who has experience installing generators. Finding an electrical contractor who specializes in generators can be a daunting process on its own, so the sooner you start your search the better.
A few things you should look for in an electrical contractor are:
- Prior experience installing generators
- Recommendations from previous customers
- A strong background in electrical engineering
- Experience working on projects of a similar size
It’s worth repeating that this is no small undertaking and there are several hurdles to jump before you even begin the installation process. You want someone on your side who has experience working with generators, the technical challenges they pose, and the regulatory requirements surrounding them.
Eau Gallie Electric is an electrical contractor and design firm in Florida who specializes in generators. We have years of experience working on large-scale projects across all sectors, including private businesses. We will use our knowledge and experience to help you design, fabricate and install a backup generator that fully complies with all Florida nursing home emergency generator guidelines. Our expertise is in backup power management and our wealth of experience in design, engineering, contracting and maintenance allows us to perform much of our work in-house, driving down the costs and the timetable. Contact us today to discuss your emergency generator requirements.