On October 16, 1996, an accidental fire occurred at a hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Sprinklers protecting a nurses’ lounge operated, controlling the fire while the nursing staff evacuated patients. Because the hospital staff members were able to evacuate patients, responding firefighters were able to concentrate on the suppression of the fire. Nine staff members and two patients sustained smoke-related injuries during the evacuation. There were no fatalities or firefighter injuries. Over the years, NFPA has investigated several hospital fires that have killed patients and caused heavy damage, the following factors contributed to the successful outcome of this incident:
- Pre-fire planning and training of hospital staff
- Cooperation between the hospital’s administrators and staff and the Hyannis Fire Department before and during the incident
- Compartmentation afforded by noncombustible construction
- The presence of an automatic sprinkler system
NPFA members can download the full investigation report for free and all site visitors can download a summary of the incident in Spanish. NFPA also has a report regarding fire incidents in medical, mental health, and substance abuse facilities that is available free to members, all site visitors can read the executive summary and a fact sheet.