AGED-CARE facilities in Orange have welcomed the introduction of mandatory sprinkler systems in all nursing homes across the state.
The legislation was introduced on Thursday following a tragic Quakers Hill nursing home fire in November last year, which killed 11 people.
Under the legislation, which comes into effect in January 2013, older-style nursing homes without a sprinkler system will be forced to retro-fit one by mid 2014.
Calare Nursing Home does not have a sprinkler system, however, a spokesperson for managers Lend Lease welcomed the new legislation.
“We are already in the process of installing fire sprinkler systems across all our aged-care facilities in NSW and we expect this process to be completed by mid-2013,” the spokesperson said.
Wontama’s 100-bed nursing home does not have a sprinkler system either, however, the neighbouring Clancy Western Hostel does.
Uniting Care western region director Jenny Coutts said it would cost a significant amount of money to retro-fit their aged care facilities.
“It’s a considerable amount of money but we are committed to making sure all our facilities have a sprinkler system in time,” she said.
Ms Coutts said while they had taken steps to plan for the retro-fit, she declined to reveal how much it would cost.
Fire and Rescue NSW Inspector Antone McPherson said the introduction of compulsory sprinkler systems was good news for residents and staff of aged-care facilities.
He said people in aged-care facilities were at a higher risk because of their age and infirmity.
“It will keep people safe and gives the people who work there a better chance of getting people out [in a fire],” he said.
He said the purpose of a sprinkler system was to help contain the fire to a designated area, rather than let it spread.
Inspector McPherson said while installing a sprinkler system was expensive, it would help to minimise damage should a fire occur.
“You might lose a room but not the whole building,” he said.
“It’s a great step forward in protection for the community.”