Northbridge, MA – Fire in light fixture at nursing home extinguished by sprinkler system; No injuries reported

Staff at Beaumont Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center said they knew they’d been successful in evacuating the building without too much trauma when the residents said they felt like the event was a party and not the result of a small fire. The fire Monday night, in a light fixture, was quickly extinguished by the facility’s sprinkler system, said Matthew Salmon, Beaumont’s owner. The fire damage was hardly noticeable, but the water that was pumped out of the sprinkler flooded the floor and flowed down to a lower level of the center, forcing 28 of the 150 residents to be evacuated.

Staff gathered up residents, collected their needed personal belongings and organized their medications and charts so they could be taken to nearby facilities in the Beaumont group or to St. Camillus Health Care, where they spent the night. “They said it was like a party,” a nursing supervisor told Mr. Salmon.

Mr. Salmon anticipated the residents would return by Tuesday evening. The evacuation went off exactly as it should, and it’s something care facilities practice with fire alarms and evacuations in mock situations.  “We have a plan in place,” Mr. Salmon said. “We’re part of Mass. MAP (the Massachusetts Long Term Care Mutual Aid Plan).”

The plan sets how an evacuation and relocation of patients in care facilities is to be carried out, Mr. Salmon said. So if another facility was evacuated, some of its residents could be moved to Beaumont, he explained. Fire doors closed during the incident, and some residents who sheltered in place slept through it, Mr. Salmon said.  The Fire Department was credited with quickly minimizing the damage being done by the sprinklers and for setting up a response of vehicles that could move residents who had to leave the building.

A task force of ambulances was called to the home, along with the Worcester Regional Transit Authority’s AmbuBus, a retrofitted 1996 bus equipped with medical supplies and the ability to carry 25 patients in wheelchairs and on stretchers. The bus has been deployed just twice since in was made ready for use in 2010, but it is used for training, WRTA spokesman Meaghan Lyver said.

On Tuesday, elevators at Beaumont were out of service and some alarms weren’t working, so staff members were monitoring those areas. Fans were circulating air and drying rugs in the affected area, and Mr. Salmon said once the health board gave an OK, folks could move back into their rooms.

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