80% of Iowa Nursing Homes Received Safety Citations

DES MOINES, Iowa

Iowa-state fire-safety regulations haven’t been enforced for the past 19 years and requirements for fire sprinklers were waved by the state fire marshal, state representatives say.

The joint charge from Iowa’s state fire marshal’s office and the Iowa Health Care Association (IHCA) for nursing home officials comes in response to a recent report issued by Congress’ Government Accountability Office (GAO) stating Iowa nursing homes are lax in fire safety, the Des Moines Register reports.

Accordingly to the report, nearly 80 percent of the state’s nursing homes were cited for at least one fire-safety violation during their last inspection. Iowa is also distinguished as one of the four states with a high proportion of nursing homes lacking sprinklers, according to state officials.

IHCA maintains Iowa nursing homes are safe and the report doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, they say, nursing homes without sprinkler systems were operating under waivers granted by federal officers because steps to ensure residents’ safety – like installing smoke detectors – were taken.

Both IHCA, the fire marshal’s office and the GAO agree such waivers should never have been issued because such precautions don’t offset a lack of sprinklers, the paper reports.

The report,
which also found that 84 percent of Texas nursing homes received similar citations, was prompted by two fatal nursing home fires last year in Tennessee and Connecticut, where both structures lacked sprinkler systems.

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