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    Question Nashville F.D. sued for nursing home fire response

    I caught the tail end of a news segment stating that the Nashville Fire Department was being sued by the family of one of the victims of the recent nursing home fire that killed several people, including the mother of a Nashville FD officer.

    From the reports I've seen, it looks like the NFD guys did a first rate job. They definitely had their hands full. Is this just a case of a family going after big $$$ because they can? Anyone closer to Nashville have any details?
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    Don't you know that no one ever sues "about the money" any more? They only sue to make a point about whatever they "claim" to be making a point about.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Newly released documents detail a delay
    of approximately 16 minutes calling a second alarm at a deadly
    nursing home fire in September 2003.
    The 1,500 pages also outlined other problems like locked
    stairwells, blocked hallways and missing elevator keys.
    The fire at the National HealthCare Corp. nursing home accounted
    for 16 deaths, seven on Sept. 25, 2003, and nine later.
    Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haynes on Tuesday
    released hundreds of pages of testimony taken from Metro Nashville
    firefighters who responded to the fire. Until this week, virtually
    all records in the 32 lawsuits filed against NHC were sealed.
    Thirty of the cases have been settled in confidential agreements.
    Metro Nashville attorneys and The Tennessean newspaper filed
    motions demanding the records be made public.
    The testimony released tells of the horrific conditions rescuers
    faced in fighting the fire. One firefighter says the situation was
    his "worst nightmare."
    This is just the first round of documents expected to be
    released. They don't include testimony from NHC's own employees
    about whether they did all they could, nor from state regulators
    about whether they were doing their jobs.
    In his deposition, Deputy Chief Geary Wayne Jackson defended
    firefighters.
    "I think everybody did exactly what they thought was right,
    what needed to be done," he said. "They reacted, and every single
    man worked his heart out to do everything he could do."
    The first firefighters on the scene weren't even sure there was
    an actual fire at the facility. They arrived just as an NHC
    employee was calling to report the fire was real, court records
    show. But that message never reached the firefighters.
    It was another four minutes before the first firefighters were
    equipped to battle the blaze, according to documents.
    Metro Law Director Karl Dean said the department has reviewed
    every detail of its response to the fire. Several changes in
    methods of communication and firefighter equipment were made.
    "It's easy with 20-20 hindsight to say they should have done
    this or that, but they did the best they could and saved a lot of
    lives," Dean said.
    In court filings, NHC said the fire department's mistakes and
    lack of training increased the deaths and injuries from the fire.
    Dean said the problems firefighters encountered at NHC were
    unprecedented, such as a woman on a bed blocking their path to the
    second floor hallway.
    NHC employees told investigators that they rolled the woman,
    Opal Askew, into the hallway before they tried to unsuccessfully
    put the fire out in room 221 with fire extinguishers. The employees
    eventually ran, leaving Askew where she was.
    The room's other resident, Anna Tolston, 86, was engulfed in
    flames in her bed and pleading for help, employees told
    investigators. Firefighters said they could see the fire down the
    hall in room 221, but when they crawled to find it, the smoke
    became too thick for them to see.
    The nursing home was heavily damaged. It has not reopened.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    The Nashville FD should be CONDEMNED for allowing locked doors, blocked exits, improper actions of nursing home employees, abandonment of patients by nursing home personnel, poor fire safety practices and, apparently, a lack of cooperation and communication by the staff.

    Here's my guess (somebody local tell me if I'm wrong). The nursing home is underinsured or bankrupt and they added the NFD into this suit because of the deep pockets.

    Lesson: This type of lawsuit will become increasingly more common. It is imperative that the fire service officer become very adept at the one thing that can protect him...DOCUMENTATION! Become proficient at taking notes, putting key timeline events on the radio (hence, on tape) and writing complete incident reports-including operations reports from company officers documenting their unit's activities. Fire inspectors must do more than a "check the box" form to fully document their activities as well.

    I have been teaching a class on Technical Report Writing for the FIre Service for about five years now. I would estimate that over 500 FF have attended. For the overwhelming majority of them, it was the first class on report writing they ever attended. That is a sad state of affairs.

    BTW: I am not saying that the NFD did not document this incident. But I know that most FD's do a poor job of documenting their incidents.

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    George... you can't comdemn the Nashville FD because of the stupidity of the staff, management and ownership of the nursing home.

    The NFD can't be there 24/7/365 to monitor everything they do that is in violation of codes.

    Here in Massachusetts, we are required under Chapter 148 of the Massachusetts General Laws, Fire Prevention to conduct quarterly inspections of nursing home facilities, schools, hospitals, group homes, places of assembly and public buildings and the like.

    One quarter, everything can "hunky dory peachy keen", the next, you can use up an entire pen writing code violations, and of course, the facility manager pleads that "it was a one time thing" or "we have those items on order",, until you ask for a copy of the order form to verify it...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    I have been teaching a class on Technical Report Writing for the FIre Service for about five years now. I would estimate that over 500 FF have attended. For the overwhelming majority of them, it was the first class on report writing they ever attended. That is a sad state of affairs.
    Any chance of you writing an article for publication in Firehouse or offering an on-line version?
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    Sorry George, but your out of line here. Unless it comes out that NFD did not do inspections as required, they should not be held accountable for the condition of the facility or the actions of the staff at the time of the fire.

    I know from doing inspections myself, that its common for business to correct violations for a reinspection, only to allow the violartion to occure again as soon as the inspector finishes signing off. We have a couple of places that I have written for locked/blocked exit doors. When I come back for the reinspect, they are compliant. If I go back the next day, they have locked/blocked the exit again. Im sure you have experianced the same.

    As Gonzo said, we cant be there 24/7 to make sure things are right. We can only do so much. However, if its discovered that inspections were not done as required, then I hope they (city) loses its a**.

    As far as the training/operations issues, I will hold comment untill I see more information.

    The bigger question I have is why doesnt the state (Tenn) require sprinklers in nursing homes? We do here in Fla...
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    The first firefighters on the scene weren't even sure there was
    an actual fire at the facility. They arrived just as an NHC
    employee was calling to report the fire was real, court records
    show. But that message never reached the firefighters.
    It was another four minutes before the first firefighters were
    equipped to battle the blaze, according to documents.
    Last summer, and probably again this summer our nursing home was constantly having false alarms. During one week we had an alarm every day, and in the middle of the night, and for a volunteer dept. it was getting to a point where hardly anyone would show up. Even though they are a paid dept. I can understand how they might not be ready if they had got the amount of false alarms set off by an automated system that even we do.

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    Default Law School 101

    ** deleted **
    Last edited by adamkhalil; 08-28-2007 at 12:05 AM.

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    I think you all missed the in George's post. I'm guessing the first paragraph was sarcasm.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Originally posted by Pretender764


    Last summer, and probably again this summer our nursing home was constantly having false alarms. During one week we had an alarm every day, and in the middle of the night, and for a volunteer dept. it was getting to a point where hardly anyone would show up. Even though they are a paid dept. I can understand how they might not be ready if they had got the amount of false alarms set off by an automated system that even we do.
    Thats the worse thing you can do. A local deparment here had a fire in a hi rise that killed two residents and burned seveal FF's. Part of the problem was the FD thought it to be just another false alarm, and they deviated from several basic SOPs and it bit them in the a** BIG TIME. While that wasnt the only negative factor in the outcome, it did have an effect.

    Dont get caught with your pants down. Treat EVERY alarm as the "real thing".
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    I have always, and will always respond to every alarm I can, along with a few of the volunteers who really love being firefighters, but we have a problem with guys who pick and choose which fire calls to respond to. I know they are volunteers so they are allowed to have that choice, but it would be nice to have more people who like responding to all the calls they can.

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    Originally posted by Pretender764
    I have always, and will always respond to every alarm I can, along with a few of the volunteers who really love being firefighters, but we have a problem with guys who pick and choose which fire calls to respond to. I know they are volunteers so they are allowed to have that choice, but it would be nice to have more people who like responding to all the calls they can.
    And that situation probably isnt going to change. All you can do is take care of yourself. Make sure you are prepared in case that "automatic false alarm" turns out to be through the roof
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    Originally posted by Dave1983

    The bigger question I have is why doesnt the state (Tenn) require sprinklers in nursing homes? We do here in Fla...

    We do - now. It took this fire to make it happen.

    Generally speaking Tennessee is not very progressive in its stance toward fire protection. Our fire losses reflect it, too.
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    I work in a nursg. home. We run drills roughly once a month. And a few things have become apparent:
    1) the Special Care Aides that work full time know exactly what to do to a "T".
    2) the RN's who, in effect, are the bosses of the situation are f'ing clueless and likely to mess up at any time during the drills. Who knows what would happen at a real alarm?
    3)Anyone who works in other areas such as activities, laundry, housekeeping is unlikely to know what to do.
    4) Sorry, I just gotta say this...management states that I must continue to act as a SCA even if there is a full-blown fire at the nrsg.home. We have people trained as SCA's that live [B]on the yard of the home[B] that can come do this job. We have 18 OK 8 dependable FF available for any fire, usually fewer during the day (5?) and I am never ever allowed to function as a FF should the occasion arise. I am sorry but I have a strong feeling that as soon as reality strikes, I gonna swipe command from the RN and get the job done. I'll take the risk and the heat and the responsibility because these RNs don't want the job; most of them CAN'T do the job and I'm not going to let someone die or get injured because of it.

    Should this event actually occur I'm sure I'll be in the unemployment lines because this home is SO boneheaded that even if everything went well I'd probably get fired for disobeying management.

    I think I owe more than 2 cents

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    Originally posted by ullrichk



    We do - now. It took this fire to make it happen.

    Generally speaking Tennessee is not very progressive in its stance toward fire protection. Our fire losses reflect it, too.
    Its a real shame that it tales a tragedy to get peoples attention
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    George... you can't comdemn the Nashville FD because of the stupidity of the staff, management and ownership of the nursing home.

    The NFD can't be there 24/7/365 to monitor everything they do that is in violation of codes.

    Here in Massachusetts, we are required under Chapter 148 of the Massachusetts General Laws, Fire Prevention to conduct quarterly inspections of nursing home facilities, schools, hospitals, group homes, places of assembly and public buildings and the like.

    One quarter, everything can "hunky dory peachy keen", the next, you can use up an entire pen writing code violations, and of course, the facility manager pleads that "it was a one time thing" or "we have those items on order",, until you ask for a copy of the order form to verify it...
    In Mass. at least, who is responsible for issueing fines for code violations and illegal burnings?
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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    Bones is the winner.

    Please read the first paragrpah again. Even w/o the , the post is dripping with sarcasm.

    (I know that it's hard to believe coming from me).

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    Originally posted by ullrichk


    Any chance of you writing an article for publication in Firehouse or offering an on-line version?
    Probably not for awhile. I am in the process of an article on LODD Invst. and an article on Vulnerability Assessment of Fire Stations. It seems, however, that writing reports is going to be the primary writing that I do for awhile. I'll work on it.

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    I work in a nursg. home. We run drills roughly once a month. And a few things have become apparent:
    1) the Special Care Aides that work full time know exactly what to do to a "T".
    2) the RN's who, in effect, are the bosses of the situation are f'ing clueless and likely to mess up at any time during the drills. Who knows what would happen at a real alarm?
    3)Anyone who works in other areas such as activities, laundry, housekeeping is unlikely to know what to do.
    4) Sorry, I just gotta say this...management states that I must continue to act as a SCA even if there is a full-blown fire at the nrsg.home. We have people trained as SCA's that live [B]on the yard of the home[B] that can come do this job. We have 18 OK 8 dependable FF available for any fire, usually fewer during the day (5?) and I am never ever allowed to function as a FF should the occasion arise. I am sorry but I have a strong feeling that as soon as reality strikes, I gonna swipe command from the RN and get the job done. I'll take the risk and the heat and the responsibility because these RNs don't want the job; most of them CAN'T do the job and I'm not going to let someone die or get injured because of it.

    Should this event actually occur I'm sure I'll be in the unemployment lines because this home is SO boneheaded that even if everything went well I'd probably get fired for disobeying management.

    I think I owe more than 2 cents
    I to am in the same boat that ROOKIELZ is in I to work in a nursing home except it is quite different. The only difference is we have a few more people that are FF's where I work. But I mean I will give our RN's credit they do do a good job of sitting there and making sure 911 is called

    My question though for you rookielz and anyone for that matter is what should training consist of for nursing home employees? where I work drills happen every 3-4 months it could be more but it seems like its not enough and it consists of the alarm going off a piece of cardboard painted with fire placed somewhere people going around looking for it then someone shouting FIRE and most of the employees are expected to gather at the spot fire extinguisher or not and watching most of the people run around like chickens with their heads cut off. Also we get a yearly inservice where it is discussed and by that I mean an extinguisher is set out and we are all made to walk up go through PASS watch a short video and thats it.

    So I also ask this should Nursing home staff have to go through somewhat of a FF1 Portable extinguisher class or at least have to put out a fire in a burn pan with an extinguisher?

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    Don't know about Tenn. but a lawsuit against a Maine dept won't net you much,they are "protected"by a tort act(limited liability). I think anybody sueing a FD ought to have to serve a few years in one.In fact don't get me going on frivolous lawsuits to start with. We could all live better and cheaper if they threw 95%of the suits out of court. T.C.

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    On the other hand there are times when fire departments are sued, and rightly so. (Speaking generally and not referring to the Nashville cases.)

    Being a firefighter doesn't relieve you of your duty to act reasonably and professionally.
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    Vulnerability Assessment of Fire Stations
    Would like to see that, although I'm not sure I'd like to see how my station would fare.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    My question though for you rookielz and anyone for that matter is what should training consist of for nursing home employees?

    Well...where to start...
    This is what I have tried so far with miniscule success:
    I have tried to teach employees how to use fire extinguishers effectively and where they are located. Not much luck only a few (5 or so) employees turn up. And NONE of them want to touch an extinguisher; much less in an emergency situation. And for the last 2 years I have not been able to do that much because these practices are cancelled at the last minute and never seem to able to be re-scheduled due to scheduling "conflicts."
    I have tried to get the Nrsg. home admin to write AND PRACTICE evacuation policies. I have had some luck there in that the policies have been written. But the managers keep giving the employees different rules EG; evacuate/don't evacuate wing/partial wing/ immediate 4 rooms... remove all obstacles from the hallways/just leave stuff there...that kind of thing. I am trying to work on ironing these things out but management seems to feel that this is all most unnecessary; after all, we've never had a fire.

    There is certainly NO SUPPORT for my firefighting activities, even when they have involved nursing home staff on 2 occasions at the entrance to the nursg. home.(1 vehicle fire/MVA, and 1 MVA) It's a shame, really and I hope that GOD looks after them, the way they are expecting HIM to. In order to ease the pain of banging my head against the wall, I have taken to listening to motivational tapes before and after talking to management.

    The Fire Commissioner has had little response from them other than to ensure compliance with provincial regulations. Actually, this nrsg. home is very good for compliance; it's the one thing I can comliment them for.

    I guess to get back to your question after rambling...basic fire extinguisher use, how to call 911 and carrying out all policies regarding fires as close to perfection as possible. How about YOUR thoughts on this subject?

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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Bones is the winner.

    Please read the first paragrpah again. Even w/o the , the post is dripping with sarcasm.

    (I know that it's hard to believe coming from me).
    Sorry George
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