Nursing homes across America would, for the first time, have to install sprinkler systems throughout their buildings if they wish to continue to serve Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, under a new regulation proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today. As an interim step toward today’s announcement, in March 2005, CMS began requiring all nursing homes that did not have sprinklers to install battery-operated smoke alarms in all patient rooms and public areas. Lack of smoke alarms in the facilities in Hartford and Nashville, which experienced fatal nursing home fires in 2003, may have contributed to a delayed response time to the fires, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office issued in July 2004. Under existing CMS regulations, newly constructed nursing homes and nursing homes undergoing major renovations, alterations or modernizations must be equipped with sprinkler systems. Currently, older homes are not required to have such systems.