Friday, November 29, 2013

Sprinklers extinguish fire at Raleigh Holiday Inn


sgilman@newsobserver.comNovember 29, 2013 
 — A small fire in a failed heating unit in an unoccupied room at the Holiday Inn on Glenwood Avenue on Thursday night caused extensive damage, but not because of the flames.
Fire sprinklers doused the entire 10th floor of the building, soaking carpets, furniture and wallpaper. Damage extended to an estimated 25 percent of the building, according to a Raleigh Fire Department report.
About 70 firefighters arrived at the hotel just before 9 p.m. Thursday, but the sprinklers had already quenched the flames. No one was injured.
Most of the damage was from the sprinkler system, said Capt. Justin Hicks of the Raleigh Fire Department. Once a fire activates the system, he said, the sprinklers will continue to pour water until someone shuts them off.
“They are designed to put a fire out, and the only way they can do that is to flow a lot of water,” Hicks said. “Each one is designed to flow 40 gallons a minute.”
The hotel was still open for business Friday.
Hotel manager Shelly Nowell was finding rooms for a crowd of people in town for the Mid South Pop Warner football game at Garner Magnet High School. Nowell said hotel workers did not know much about the flood.
“We’re just trying to take care of people as best as we can,” she said.
Alvin Sellars, the hotel’s general manager, declined to comment.
Workers from Kustom, a disaster recovery service, hauled fans and dehumidifiers to the damaged rooms. Workers had torn up soaked carpets from several of the rooms and at least half of one of the hallways.
Gilman: 919-829-8955

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sprinklers help contain fire at Portsmouth apartments


Sprinklers help contain fire at Portsmouth apartments

Posted toNews Portsmouth

The sprinkler system kept a blaze in check inside a residential building for senior citizens until firefighters could arrive on Tuesday night.
No injuries were reported in the fire at Effingham Plaza in the 800 block of Madison St., said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Hoffler.
Over the years, though, the facility has had at least two fatal fires that have caused major damage, Hoffler said. The sprinkler system may have saved lives, he added.
“Having that system in there is absolutely the best thing in the world,” Hoffler said.
The blaze was reported shortly after 10 p.m. on the top floor of the four-story building. Several apartments had water damage, but Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority officials took them into a recreation center located between the facility’s two buildings.
The housing authority was working to relocate the residents until the damage can be cleaned up, Hoffler said.
The fire was contained by the sprinklers in one room of the apartment where it began.
Hoffler said he did not yet know the cause.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

JFK's death overshadowed Ohio nursing home fire


A nursing home fire that killed 63 people in Ohio 50 years ago is largely forgotten _ and went barely noticed at the time _ because it came just hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Many of those who died at the Golden Age Nursing Home outside the northern Ohio village of Fitchville were restrained to their beds or trapped behind wheelchairs too wide for the exits.
It remains one of the worst nursing home fires in U.S. history. Investigators blamed faulty wiring and found that the nursing home didn't have an evacuation plan.
The fire and a string of other nursing home fires in the 1960s brought about better federal and state oversight and safety regulations for nursing homes.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Firefighters Battling Blaze At Hamilton Heights Apartment Building

from cbs

Started On 3rd Floor, Spread Up To 5th, Officials Say

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Firefighters were battling a blaze at a five-story apartment building in upper Manhattan on Thursday morning.
As CBS 2′s Janelle Burrell reported, the fire at West 138th Street and Riverside Drive in Hamilton Heights began around 7 a.m. The blaze started on the third floor but spread up to the fifth, fire officials said.
Firefighters had raised multiple ladders leading into the building, as smoke billowed out from windows.
The wind gusts blowing in from the Hudson River made battling the blaze more difficult for firefighters as they tried to contain it. The winds fanned the flames, and they spread quickly, trapping a firefighter on the fifth floor.
The winds however eventually changed directions, shifting the flames so the firefighter could escape, an official told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern.
The blaze forced residents of the building — as well as those in neighboring buildings — to evacuate. The firefighter suffered minor injuries.
“I heard the beeper next door to my apartment going off and I saw the fire trucks, and I got dressed as quick as possible,” said Carl Freeman, who lives in a neighboring building. “Got my wife up and told her, ‘Let’s get out of here quick.’ So she’s in the car across the street warming up, keeping warm, and I’m out here watching what’s going on.
“It’s one of the coldest mornings. I feel sorry for all those people that are out of their homes now.”
The cause of the fire was unknown.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Some Georgia Nursing Homes Still Lack Fire Sprinklers


Fri., November 22, 2013 11:00am (EST)

By Andy Miller, Georgia Health News
Updated: 10 hours ago

More than 900 U.S. nursing homes, including six in Georgia, have been listed by federal officials as not fully complying with a regulation to have automatic fire sprinklers in every patient area. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a memo to state officials last week on the sprinkler rule compliance. The six facilities represent less than 2 percent of the nursing homes in the state. (Photo Courtesy of <a href=>Douglas Porter via Flickr</a>.)
More than 900 U.S. nursing homes, including six in Georgia, have been listed by federal officials as not fully complying with a regulation to have automatic fire sprinklers in every patient area. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a memo to state officials last week on the sprinkler rule compliance. The six facilities represent less than 2 percent of the nursing homes in the state. (Photo Courtesy of Douglas Porter via Flickr.)
More than 900 U.S. nursing homes, including six in Georgia, have been listed by federal officials as not fully complying with a regulation to have automatic fire sprinklers in every patient area.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a memo to state officials last week on the sprinkler rule compliance. It did not identify the nursing homes that are not fully sprinkler-equipped. The deadline for installation was Aug. 13.

In 2008, CMS issued a rule that the long-term care industry had five years to install the systems in the approximately 16,000 U.S. nursing homes, where more than 1 million Americans live.

The federal rules came in response to the deaths of 31 people in nursing home fires in Nashville, Tenn., and Hartford, Conn., in 2003.

After the deadly fires, “there was enormous pressure on CMS to respond,’’ said Alan Horowitz, an Atlanta attorney with law firm Arnall Golden Gregory who specializes in long-term health care issues.

Georgia’s record appears to be good compared with other states on the rate of compliance with the sprinkler regulation.

Only two Georgia nursing homes have no sprinklers, while four others are classified as “partially sprinklered.’’ The six facilities represent less than 2 percent of the nursing homes in the state.

The state Department of Community Health said Thursday that it has requested detailed information from CMS on the sprinkler issue. The agency said it was not able at this time to verify the names of the nursing homes classified as not fully sprinklered.

CMS told GHN in a statement Thursday that “an automatic fire sprinkler system is a critical component of appropriate fire protection within a nursing home and greatly mitigates the risk of harm to residents and damage to property in case of a fire.”

In its memo, CMS acknowledged that the list of noncompliant facilities may not be fully up to date. The data are based on the most recent survey of each facility, the agency said.

For example, CMS said, a facility that was “unsprinklered” at the time of the survey in January 2013 may have had sprinklers installed after January but not had a recertification survey as of November. “As a result, our database will not have recorded the fact that the facility achieved full sprinkler status,” the memo said.

CMS told Georgia Health News on Thursday that between August and October, the total number of nursing homes not fully sprinklered dropped from 1,260 to 928. As more onsite surveys are done, the agency said that it expects the number of facilities that are not fully sprinklered will continue to decline dramatically.

A facility can receive a deficiency notice that results in not being able to get payment for any new Medicaid or Medicare patients. But if a nursing home implements “extraordinary protective actions’’ to ensure patient safety, it may be able to reduce the severity of the deficiency cited, and possibly eliminate the sanction, Horowitz said.

The installation of a sprinkler system can be expensive. The cost for a large facility could cost well into six figures, Horowitz said.

Five years ago, the industry said the cost would be a financial hardship on some owners, especially in rural areas, the Washington Post reported.

The 2003 blazes in Hartford and Nashville focused regulators on gaps in fire protection rules. Intense media scrutiny and a Government Accountability Office report in July 2004 helped prompt the push for mandatory sprinklers, the Post reported.

“It is 35 to 40 years overdue,” said Janet Wells, director of public policy for the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, a Washington group that works to protect residents’ rights, according to the 2008 Post report

The GAO report was critical of “weaknesses” in federal fire standards and oversight. It said neither the Hartford or Nashville facilities had smoke alarms or sprinklers where the fires originated. It was critical of waivers that regulators handed out to excuse homes from fire standards. And it said state and federal oversight relied on faulty and unaudited state surveys, the Post article said.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fire survivors ask Massachusetts legislature to pass law requiring sprinkler systems in new residential buildings


State House News ServiceBy State House News Service 
on November 20, 2013 at 3:09 PM
BOSTON — Lawmakers heard emotional testimony Wednesday from fire survivors who wondered how their lives might have been different if they had sprinklers to protect them.
Marianne Roche was beginning her day one morning in 1999 when an ashtray in her Pittsfield home caught fire, igniting her shirt when she sought to grab the ashtray and put it in the sink. As smoke filled her home, she grabbed her young child and ran into the street screaming for help, only afterwards realizing she was wearing no clothes. Roche ran inside to grab a blanket and held her child as she counted the sirens of the approaching fire trucks.
“That is pretty much my last memory for three months,” said Roche, who was badly burned and spent months in a coma.
Rep. Ruth Balser, a Newton Democrat, has filed legislation (H 2121) that would allow municipalities to adopt legislation requiring the installation of sprinklers on new residential buildings with two or more units or buildings that are “substantially rehabilitated.”
Balser’s bill has been altered from past iterations, according to The Safety Institute Executive Director Lewis Howe, and it has the backing of firefighters associations. The committee is considering several other bills dealing with sprinkler systems.
Advocates for landlords, who say many small landlords are not versed on their responsibilities, argued the solution to better fire safety is education for tenants and landlords, not additional laws.
“Is it really necessary to reinvent the wheel?” asked Skip Schloming, executive director of the Small Property Owners Association, who said penalties included in the bill already exist and “are not being imposed, as they could be.”
“I am certain that most small landlords do not know when building permits are required and when they are not,” said Dawna Carrette, a property owner in Cambridge. She said, “I believe that education is the key to reducing fires.”
Last September, Patricia DeLuca was watching television in her apartment in Boston’s North End, when she heard a sound that didn’t make sense and then discovered a fire in the hall, which she escaped from onto a small platform outside her kitchen window.
With flames below, DeLuca climbed onto a neighbor’s fire escape.
“I don’t know how I did it,” DeLuca told the committee, saying she was badly burned.
Roche said after the fire she became acquainted with a new world of doctors and hospitals and wondered how things might have been different if a sprinkler had doused the fire.
“I’m just left wondering,” she said.
“The courage you display…is very moving,” said Senate Chairman of Public Safety James Timilty, commending the women on bravery during the fires and in sharing their stories with the committee.