Missouri, Other States – Take Note

UPDATE; When I first wrote about this story my first thougth was, ‘okay all AL’s 74 nursing homes are sprinklered but what do you define as “nursing home?” What about “assisted living?” “Group Homes?” The last paragraph of this article gives the answer [The Cleburne News Online],

All of Alabama’s 313 assisted living facilities and specialty care assisted living facilities also are fully sprinklered, with the exception of eight facilities which have fewer than four beds. For more information visit www.adph.org/healthcarefacilities.”

I will visit the site and invesitgate more just because I can’t believe it.

Missouri and the other 48 should call Alabama first thing in the morning and get the skinny on how “The Heart of Dixie” got it done. I single out Missouri because I’ve written about the state here and, quite frankly, it’s close to home. But, so is Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas . . . you get the point. Missouri though, started down the path and pulled out.

This article explains that Alabama has successfully sprinklered every nursing home in the state.

Alabama is among the first states in the nation to have automatic fire sprinkler systems throughout every nursing home. Although the Life Safety Code allowed existing nursing homes to remain unsprinklered under certain circumstances, the State Board of Health, by an amendment in 2004 to the nursing facilities licensure rule, required all nursing homes to have complete sprinkler systems. In 2004, 74 of Alabama’s 242 nursing homes had no sprinkler systems or partial sprinkler systems. Now, all 74 homes have installed full fire sprinkler systems.”

[brewtonstandard.com]

Allow me to take my salesman/contractor hat off for a moment. The reason why this is so important? Well, several. But the first and foremost is that we need to provide a level of protection that will buy more time for the residents of these places to get out of the building. Smoke detectors will only alert residents and staff of a fire.

You might remember my rant a week or so ago regarding the number of staff members that were on hand in Anderson County. One person cannot physically move 16 people out of a burning building with out tragic consequenses. Sprinklers will buy more time, at the least. In a perfect world fire sprinklers will extinguish a blaze. We must protect residents who put their safety in the hands of these facilities. It’s not as if the residents can get up in a hurry and go in a moments notice.

If you need more reasons drop me a note and we’ll talk about it. In the meantime, way to go AL!

What Did We Learn from Anderson County Group Home Fire?

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]

“As families plan funerals, officials probe possibility of bad wiring in group home fire,” [USA Today]

And several stories from the Missourinet. Search “Group Home”.