Officials praise quick actions of staff after fire at St. Thomas retirement home
Brent Lale, CTV London
Published Monday, January 28, 2019 6:02PM EST
Clean-up efforts continued Monday at a St. Thomas retirement home after a fire Saturday night.
A few dozen residents remain displaced by the fire, but officials are saying things could have been much worse if it wasn't for the safety precautions in place.
A recent fire safety drill at Caressant Care may have prevented mass casualties over the weekend.
Bill Todd, St. Thomas fire prevention officer, says, “In November we did a timed drill in that wing, with staff…Here we are less than two months later doing the real thing…So training helps.”
When first responders arrived four minutes after a 911 call, staff were already transporting patients from the nursing home wing, to the retirement side.
Clive Hubbard, an investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office, says “The staff at this facility did a great job of following their fire safety plan and getting [patients] from the fire zone to a safety zone.”
Not only were staff prepared, but the building was as well.
After a massive fire in Orillia, Ont. in 2009 new legislation required nursing homes to have sprinkler systems in place by 2025.
Caressant Care did a proactive retrofit five years ago.
Todd says, “This fire would have been a whole lot worse if it wasn't for sprinklers…It doesn't put out a fire but delays, in this case it did exactly what it was supposed to do.”
And first responders kicked into high gear as well. At the height of the fire there were 36 firefighters and more than ten EMS vehicles on Bonnie Place, with others alerted across the region.
Forty people were assessed on scene, and seven patients were transferred to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH).
Two of the residents remain in the Intensive Care Unit at STEGH. One is in critical condition and the other has been upgraded to good condition.
Stuart Oakley, communications manager for Caressant Care, said in a statement Monday they are developing a plan to get residents back to their rooms as quickly as possible.