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A smoking light fixture

February 22, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
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On a sleepy, winter Sunday I was in the dining room just about finished with lunch. The faster-eating residents were already vacating the dining room. I noticed Donnie* (resident) proceed toward the door and then turned around and did what I thought was a pretend “bank shot” aimed at a dining room light fixture.

About five minutes later that light began to smoke. Roger* (another resident) yelled that he had seen Donnie throw a piece of paper into that light. I did not see it go in there and neither did some of the aides. But Roger kept yelling that Donnie’s actions had done something to the light fixture.

As the smoke billowed out, Roger grabbed a chair and began to climb up to the light. Aides were telling him to stop. I was looking for the nearest fire extinguisher, which was in the lobby. The aides considered throwing water on the smoke but decided not to. In the middle of all this, Roger reached in the light–as we all winced–pulled out a burning, smoking napkin, dropped it on the floor, and stomped it out.

Roger yelled that the police needed to be called and that Donnie should be arrested.

After the fire was out and the excitement was over, the fire alarm came on.

The light fixture was checked to see if the heat and fire had gotten to the wiring. Luckily, the only damage was a small burned spot on the tile floor.

Roger is in his 50s and has an explosive personality. It never seems like he cares much about anything. But, on this day, he made it quite clear that no one was going to burn down his home.

Donnie was long gone from the dining room when he heard what had happened, and he seemed to think it was funny. But because of his actions, Donnie's lost his next smoke break.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...