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Call For Aide Cord Rule Update

New Regulations Clarified on Requirements for Call for Aide Systems

On October 31, 2014, HUD Published a Memorandum regarding “Office of Multifamily Programs Policy on Emergency Call Systems in Elderly Properties.”

In this memorandum, HUD clarifies that “There is no requirement that a property use a particular type of call systems (such as older pull cord systems), as long as the system in place meets the functional requirements described in HUD Handbook 4910.1, Section 100-2.20

This Handbook (4910.1 Minimum Property Standards for Housing, 1994 Edition) specifies the requirements to provide and maintain the emergency call system.” The handbook states that it is “unacceptable to have a separate add-on rental fee, but the cost for such a system is part of the project’s expense and is expected to be covered within the monthly rental charge.”

Requirements for an Emergency Response System

The clarification of the requirement states that “An emergency response system, including mobile response devices, in elderly Multifamily properties, shall be deemed acceptable if the following are true.

  • The system registers an alarm call at a central supervised location; OR
  • The system provides an intercommunication system that connects to a continuously monitored switchboard (24 hours a day); OR
  • The system sounds an alarm in the immediate corridor and actuates a visual signal at the living unit entrance; AND
  • The system is available in each bathroom and one bedroom-location in each living unit

How Does this rule on call for aide systems impact upcoming REAC Inspections?

Requirements for REAC Inspections related to Call for Aide Systems have not changed. The requirements on a REAC Inspection will continue to inspect the traditional call for aide system; only more modern systems such as wireless and personal mobile response devices will not be inspected as part of a REAC Inspection. On a REAC Inspection, the traditional call for aide system:

  1. Call-for-aid, as installed, must serve its intended function. For example, the bell sounds an alarm, the light turns on, and/or off-site personnel is notified when the system is activated.
  2. When recording a deficiency, a comment must be provided [by the REAC Inspector] (e.g. coiled-up, not fully extended, more than “x” distance from the floor, taped to the wall, etc.).
  3. If the property has replaced the old Call-for-Aid system with a new electronic neck or hand-held type of system, the presence of any part of an inoperable system that remains must be recorded as [unable to test the system due to the system being monitored by a third party].
  4. Call-for-Aid Systems will not be evaluated for deficiencies if all pull stations have been removed from the resident’s apartments and all that remains is the light fixture over the unit’s door and/or the old enunciator panel is still mounted on a wall in the lobby. If any part of the old system remains inside the unit, then the inspector must evaluate this situation as an inoperable Call-for-Aid system.

Call for Aide Cord and Fire Alarm Panels

These systems should not be tested as part of REAC Inspections if the systems are designed for “Off-Site Monitoring and Notification”. You will be asked for proof that the system(s) are being tested and monitored currently, and then “the inspector does not need to test the individual components of the system and everything should be marked [as working properly].”  However, they will inspect the individual components of the system, such as the cords, lanterns, etc to ensure they are not blocked, too short, and other conditions that would affect the proper operation of the system.

If you should have any questions about your call for aide system, or if you have questions about REAC Inspections, training on REAC Inspections, or US Housing’s Pre-REAC inspection services – please feel free to contact us at any time.

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