Fire Sprinklers in Nursing Homes
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on September 4, 2008 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
On August 13th, regulators issued a rule requiring fire sprinkler systems for the 2,466 nursing home facilities that dont have them fully installed. The new rule would grant nursing homes five years to install the systems.
Prior to this rule, nursing home operators only had to install sprinklers when they built new facilities or made major renovations. However, the government was forced to act after the deaths of 31 nursing home residents in Nashville and Hartford, Connecticut in 2003. These tragic fires forced regulators to address gaps in fire-protection rules. Heightened media attention and a Government Accountability Office report in July 2004 fueled the push for mandatory sprinklers.
The GAO report cited weaknesses in federal fire standards and oversight. The report indicated that neither home had smoke alarms or sprinklers where the fires originated. It was critical of waivers that regulators handed out to excuse home from fire standards. And it said state and federal oversight relied on faulty state surveys.
The GAO report said that from 1994 to 1999, an average of 2,300 facilities reported a fire each year. In 2004, inspections uncovered 48,732 problems with fire-safety rules, 11.5 percent of which were considered to have widespread potential for harm. Last year, 62,359 deficiencies were found, with 23.5 percent considered severe. Approximately 1.4 million residents live in 16,000 nursing homes across the nation.
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