NFPA Head Wants 100% of Nursing Homes Sprinklered

The National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) president, James M. Shannon, last month called for all U.S. nursing homes to be equipped with fire sprinklers. The decree was prompted in part by two nursing home fires—one in Nashville and one in Hartford, Conn.—that claimed 24 lives and injured dozens earlier this year.

11/01/2003


The National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) president, James M. Shannon, last month called for all U.S. nursing homes to be equipped with fire sprinklers. The decree was prompted in part by two nursing home fires—one in Nashville and one in Hartford, Conn.—that claimed 24 lives and injured dozens earlier this year.

An estimated 85-90% of all U.S. nursing homes employ sprinklers, and Shannon feels that sprinklers must be added to the total fire protection package provided by existing codes and standards in homes where they are not yet required. Sprinklers are that much more important in facilities such as nursing homes, Shannon said, because their residents are less capable of saving themselves in the event of a fire.

"NFPA, as a century-old fire safety advocate, has an obligation to be an advocate and lead on issues crucial to safety. In this case, the need is for greater safety for nursing home residents," Shannon said. "These tragedies have taught us that we must do more to keep our elderly and disabled safe from fire. We know that fire sprinklers can control fires where they start and alleviate the burdens placed on staff to deal with the fire while relocating or evacuating patients. Sprinklers must be included in our stock of existing nursing homes because it is evident that common fire protection measures in nursing homes that work well now need to be strengthened."

Shannon stressed that his agenda is independent of NFPA's standard code development and revision process.

NFPA's research shows that having sprinklers installed in a building reduces the chances of dying in a fire by one-half to two-thirds. One-quarter of nursing home fires occur in homes that do not use sprinklers.





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