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Sprinkler issue gets attention


January 25, 2009
By Laura King

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Jan. 25

Blog reader Tony Porcaro hit the nail on the head when he posted comments on this site on Sunday, noting that the sprinkler issue is becoming a political football. He also noted the editorial in Saturday’s Toronto Star (which I had read shortly before his comments arrived in my e-mail in box) that listed several reasons (or, more aptly, excuses) why politicians should examine this issue more thoroughly and not just bow to pressure from firefighters to force operators of private nursing homes to install sprinkler systems. It’s like bicycle helmets for kids, mouth guards for minor hockey players and seatbelts for everyone: how many vulnerable seniors have to die in nursing home fires before we give our heads a collective shake and wonder what in the name of time we were thinking?

I was
pleased last week when the Globe and Mail’s Christie Blatchford picked up the
cause for sprinklers and wrote a well-informed story about the issue. But I was
appalled that the Toronto Star is more worried that forcing operators of private
nursing homes to install sprinklers might mean fewer staff or resources for those
same nursing homes than about the safety of the nursing home residents.
Certainly, this is a concern, but if the place burns down . . . I know I’m
singing to the choir (yet again) but the Star even suggested that ensuring
proper staff training might be a better option than spending money on sprinklers.
Because the staff are going to run into a smoke-filled or burning room, grab
the seniors and get them to safety? Puh-lease!

Ok, rant
over, but really, if people who are smart enough to be writing editorials at
for the country’s largest newspaper can’t see the logic in sprinklering private
nursing homes then it’s clear that the fire service has much more work to do on
this issue than many of us thought.


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