Generator Requirements Can Catch Providers By Surprise

Emergency Preparedness
​It can be surprising when a situation has existed for years and suddenly it becomes a compliance issue. One such recent example of this revolves around generators…specifically around generator emergency stop capability and remote annunciation. 

The 2010 edition of NFPA 110 (Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems) requires all generator installations include a remote “manual stop station” located outside the room housing the generator or “elsewhere on the premises” for generators located outside (see section The remote stop station is also required to be labeled as such. The remote stop allows for the generator to be shut down without having to enter the generator room or enclosure. 

Although some installations include a generator stop button located near the generator itself, many Authorities Having Jurisdiction, including CMS and The Joint Commission, often interpret the term “elsewhere on the premises” to infer the emergency stop button must be located outside of the generator enclosure. For example, if an externally located generator is placed within a fenced-in area, the remote stop button is intended to be located outside of the fence. If there is some type of malfunction of the generator, personnel should not have to enter the generator room (if inside) or into the generator enclosure (if outside) to stop the generator, mitigating any potential harm if there is a malfunction of the generator. 

Another requirement exists for the installation of a generator remote annunciator panel. The 2012 edition of NFPA 99 (Health Care Facilities Code) requires a remote annunciator panel be provided outside of the generator room / enclosure in a location “readily observed by operating personnel at a regular workstation” (see section In a healthcare occupancy, this often translates to a panel near a nurse’s station or other normally attended location. The panel must indicate when the generator is operating, when the battery charger is malfunctioning and signal a variety of engine related issues (e.g., high temperature, low oil pressure, low fuel, overspeed, etc.) 

The key to both generator provisions is that they have been around for a long time…most likely when a facility’s generator was installed. Just because a provider has not been cited for either issue historically does not mean the findings are not legitimate. A few state survey agencies have recently put a focus on both requirements and providers have been surprised when receiving a tag for generator arrangements that have been in place for decades. K918 addresses the remote stop button and K916 addresses the remote annunciator. 

The details around these generator requirements and others are found in NFPA 99 and NFPA 110. You can always access or purchase NFPA codes and standards at