Iowa nursing home administrators are urging Congress to pass a new fire safety act that would require all nursing homes to have automatic sprinkler systems within five years. Roughly 300 of the 450 nursing homes already have sprinkler systems. The president of the Iowa Healthcare Association, Dana Holland, says the Fire Safety Act would provide financial assistance to homes that need to improve their systems. He says it can’t be done overnight as there aren’t enough sprinkler companies in the state. He says it also takes some time to retrofit old buildings because many of the buildings are older.He says there are some communities that don’t have an adequate water supply for facilities. Holland says it’s not a cheap proposition to add sprinklers. He says the estimated cost for facilities without sprinklers is 100-thousand dollars, while it’s 50-thousand for those that have partial systems. Holland says the Fire Safety Act could lead to stiff fines against the homes that didn’t install the sprinklers by the five-year deadline. Holland says resident living in homes without the systems are not in danger. He says the facilities are safe, and says there hasn’t been a structure fire in the last 40 years that’s caused the death of an individual. The State Fire Marshal says most fire deaths in nursing homes are due to careless smoking.
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