Cash-Strapped Connecticut Nursing Homes May Miss Sprinkler Deadline

Dozens of financially struggling nursing homes will likely miss a July 1 deadline to meet the requirements of the state's sprinkler system law, government officials and nursing home owners said.

Rep. Stephen Dargan, co-chairman of the legislature's Public Safety and Security Committee, said he plans to meet with state budget officials, home owners and agency officials to discuss the problem. He said he is hesitant about extending the deadline because of the tragedy at Greenwood.

``I really would not like to see this delayed, because God forbid there's another fire and there's another loss of life,'' said Dargan, D-West Hartford. He added, ``If we don't have a safe facility, I don't care how much money it costs to retrofit these facilities, we need to do it.''

Kenneth Hugo, administrator of the Notre Dame Convalescent Home in Norwalk, said that keeping the June 2005 deadline just won't work. While his plans for upgrading his partial sprinkler system have been drafted and approved by the local fire marshal, he's also in a holding pattern as he waits for a funding decision from the state.

``It would make it totally impossible to comply,'' he said. ``It's safe to say for other facilities, it would be equally impossible.''