chapter  22
4 Pages

Nursing Homes

A grim modern-day disaster occurred on May 20, 1980 in Kingston, Jamaica, when 146 (of 211) residents died from fire in a home for older adults. The most devastating nursing home fire in the United States remains the February 1957 blaze in the three-story Katie Jane Memorial Home in Warrenton, Missouri that killed 72 of their (total) 149 residents. Faulty electrical wiring was the probable cause of that rapidly spreading fire. A headline in the St. Louis Dispatch read “Screams of Elderly Patients Were Quickly Stilled by Flames.” The Missouri legislature met the day after the Warrenton fire, introducing a bill that required sprinkler systems for all Missouri nursing homes and similar institutions. Once again, existing codes were recognized as being antiquated only on the heels of a major catastrophe.