State lawmakers respond to a tragic fire in southwest Missouri by requiring that residential care facilities have sprinkler systems.
Most nursing homes and other residential care facilities would have to have sprinkler systems, something missing at the Anderson Guest House that burned late last year, killing 11 people. It’s the "most" that disturbs Representative Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhart) who isn’t happy that homes with 20 or fewer residents are exempt. Roorda and others say the bill falls short of fully protecting the state’s elderly and disabled, because of the exemption.
Sponsor Kevin Wilson (R-Neosho) says the compromise was worth it to get the bill passed. Wilson says he vowed to do something to protect vulnerable residents in wake of the Anderson Guest House fire. The Anderson Guest House is located in his district.
SS SCS HCS HB 952 & 674 requires all residential care facilities to have fire alarms. It contains other fire safety requirements as well. The State Fire Marshal would receive greatest enforcement power and be allowed to hire more inspectors. If the Fire Marshal determines a home needs sprinklers, he can require them to install them.
Sprinkler systems would have to be retrofitted in older homes by the end of 2012. Loans would be made available by the state to help finance installation of the systems.
The House approved the bill on a unanimous 158-to-nothing vote.