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MO Senate votes to require sprinklers in nursing homes

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would require nursing homes and similar facilities to have sprinkler systems and upgraded fire alarms.

The bill would require public and private nursing homes and group homes to have full fire alarm systems installed by August, 2009, and sprinklers installed by the end of the year 2012. It's in response to a fire that gutted a group home in Anderson last November and killed 11 people.

Senate President Pro-tem Michael Gibbons, the bill's sponsor, says it's part of a broader bill that reforms the state's mental health care system. "This would create a public record out of final reports of abuse, neglect," he said. "We also create the crime of 'abuse of a vulnerable person.'"

Gibbons also says the legislation would require all public and private group homes to have state-of-the-art "heat rise" fire alarm systems in place by August of 2009.

"In the Anderson situation, (it) would've saved those people," Gibbons said, of the heat rise system. "It measures a rapid rise in heat in attics, which is where that fire occurred, it burned for about 45 minutes before anybody knew it was on fire."

The bill has one more formal vote in the Senate before it goes to the Missouri House.


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