The tragedy of eleven deaths at a southwest Missouri residential home for the elderly and the mentally ill has prompted legislation requiring sprinkler systems at all long-term facilities.

Long-term care facilities licensed by the state, such as nursing homes, would have to have sprinkler systems, as well as complete fire alarm systems. Fire safety training, including fire drills, would be required. There would have to be staff members awake and dressed at all times so they could assist residents in cases of emergency.

Rep. Kevin Wilson (R-Neosho) tells colleagues they must toughen standards in wake of the fatal fire at the Anderson Guest House November 27th of last year. The facility didn’t have a sprinkler system. Wilson says the residents thought they were safe and were let down by the state.

The House rejected an amendment that would have allowed facilities to get ought of the sprinkler requirement if they met other fire safety standards. Many operators of older residential care facilities have said that they sprinkler requirement would force them out of business, because of its cost. The requirement remains in the bill. Older homes will have to have sprinkler systems by 2012. State loans will be made available to finance the cost.

Another positive vote is needed to send HCS HB 952 & 674 to the Senate.


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