I feel compelled to dig into this story. The focus became fire sprinklers but I’m not convinced it should have. I’m at a loss. I honestly don’t know what to say first. I can say this, I’ve spent two hours checking resources, one article against another. The whole thing smells kind of fishy to me. This group home fire will be a major topic of this blog, quite frankly, because I feel Missouri had an opportunity to set a precedent in more ways than one.
Many things are wrong about what has resulted from this fire. I’m even considering starting another blog dedicated to the topic of this tragedy. Simply because I think the word needs to get out. Not just for sprinkler sake, but for life safety sake.
I’ll start with the latest. This article explains the decision the State has come to regarding sprinklers in group homes across Missouri. Here’s a quote;
The legislation, passed overwhelmingly last week, excludes existing residential care and assisted living facilities with 20 or fewer residents from having to retrofit their buildings for sprinklers.
About half of Missouri’s facilities – 310 of the 616 – currently lack sprinkler systems. The bill’s exemption means that 120 of those would be forced to install sprinklers, according to Department of Health and Senior Services figures provided to The Associated Press. The bill gives those facilities until Dec. 31, 2012, to comply.”
If I remember correctly the Legislation initially called for sprinklering ALL of Missouri’s group homes. Now, 120 will be forced to install sprinklers. That’s 40%. It’s a step forward and a step forward is closer than we were (in terms of sprinklers). However, as I stated before, I’m not sure sprinklers should have become the only focus. The following quote is chilling,
The Anderson Guest House for the mentally ill and disabled had 32 residents but no sprinkler system when a smoldering attic fire spread and destroyed the southwest Missouri facility on Nov. 27, killing 10 residents and one of the two staff members on duty.”
One of two staff members? This is the line that really got me to look into this story. Two staff members in charge of 32 residents. Unbelievable. And, I’ve only scratched the surface.
In the intrest of not trying to solve this mystery/tragedy tonight the following are links to the stories I’ve read and have interest in regarding this subject. I would love feedback. Read for yourself. Tell me if I’m crazy for getting all worked up over this. Here are the links;
Both quotes I used in this post were from; “Exemptions dilute sprinkler measure for group homes.” [columbiatribune.com]
Articles on the topic/future fodder;
“Fire in Missouri Kills 10 at Home for Mentally Ill and Disabled,” [New York Times]
And several stories from the Missourinet. Search “Group Home”.