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Sprinklers prevented 'loss of life' during N.J. nursing home blaze, fire inspector says

December 6, 2011
by root
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A Monday morning fire at the Laurelton Village Care Center in Brick, N.J., did not seriously injure any residents or staff because of the facility’s sprinkler system, the Associated Press reported.

Brick Fire Department Inspector Richard Orlando told the Associated Press that the sprinklers “made short work of this fire,” which sent 11 people to the hospital—nine residents and two police officers—but caused no serious injuries. Emergency personnel from neighboring departments rushed to the scene but were not needed.

“There's no doubt in my mind there would have been loss of life here without that sprinkler equipment,” Orlando said.

According to the report, two bed-ridden residents were in the patient room where the fire originated, believed to have been caused by a wall-mounted heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit. The nursing staff was evacuating those patients when the sprinklers were triggered and put out the fire.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule in 2008 mandating sprinklers in all existing nursing homes by August 2013. During an educational session at this past October’s LeadingAge Annual meeting, James Merrill, a life safety engineer in the nursing homes branch of CMS, said fewer than 10 percent of regulated SNFs have yet to install sprinklers.