Q: Can you clarify for me if the elevator equipment room is required to be sprinklered and have a shunt trip installed in our nursing home.
A: Yes, elevator equipment rooms are required to be sprinklered in all new and existing nursing homes, as per the CMS S&C memo 09-04 issued October 3, 2008. The S&C memo requires all existing and new nursing homes to be fully protected with automatic sprinklers. The CMS memo refers to NFPA 13 (1999 edition) as the standard to be used for the installation of sprinklers, and unfortunately for you, neither NFPA 13 nor the CMS S&C memo has any exemptions for elevator equipment rooms to be protected with sprinklers.
Section 5-13.6.2 of NFPA 13 very clearly states that sprinklers are required in the elevator hoistways and mechanical rooms. However, the Annex section for 5-13.6.2 refers to ASME A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators which requires shunt-trip shutdown of the electrical supply upon or prior to the application of water in the elevator machine room or hoistway. The intent is to interrupt the power supply before significant sprinkler discharge.
So, it looks to me that you need to have those sprinklers installed. If you have a local authority telling you not to install sprinklers in the elevator hoistway or mechanical rooms, you need to inform them that you are under federal direction and they need to allow you to do so.