COMMITTEE BEGINS STUDY OF FIRE
Group Seeks To Determine If More Laws are Necessary To Prevent Repetition Of Warrenton Fire
A study to determine whether additional legislation is necessary to prevent a repetition of the Warrenton nursing home fire, in which 72 persons were killed February 17, was started last week by a special joint Senate-house committee.
Senator Michael Kinney, (D), St. Louis, chairman, said the committee will first study reports of all governmental and private agencies which investigated the fire.
These are reports made by the State Highway Patrol, investigators for the National Fire Underwriters, the St. Louis police arson squad, the state Division of Health and the Warren county coroner.
A public hearing will be held March 27, when persons having information concerning the disaster will be asked to appear.
Bills which would require nursing homes to have chute or slide fire escapes from upper floors and heat-controlled fire alarms or automatic sprinkler systems of types recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters were introduced by Representative Joseph W. Beckerle, St. Louis.
Beckerle said he had been told that patients placed on mattresses in the chute escapes could be evacuated 15 times faster than when taken from a building on foot.
The resolution authorizing establishment of the Senate-House investigating group was introduced a week after the fire. It directs the group to study the causes of the fire, and recommend within 60 days any legislation it believes is needed to safeguard against a similar tragedy.
A special staff of 20 persons is being organized by the state division of health to put into effect a new code regulation nursing homes under provisions of the Spradling act, which was signed by Gov. James T. Blair March 13. It has an emergency clause, and therefore became effective immediately.
Dr. Henry M. Hardwicke, acting director of the health division, said the law is one of the best of its kind in the country.
Marthasville Record March 22, 1957