On August 12, 1984, a fire originating in a high voltage electrical feeder busway forced the evacuation and relocation of approximately 200 patients at the Forsyth Memorial Hospital located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While the fire was confined to the busway and to exposed storage areas in the vicinity of a basement loading dock, smoke spread to several upper floors of the hospital. Portions directly exposed to smoke conditions included operating suites, post-operative and critical care areas, and pediatric units of the hospital. The exposure of these areas to smoke and the potential for exposure of oxygen and gas lines, along with loss of normal and emergency power and communications, precipitated the relocation and evacuation of patients and staff. The smoke spread was also limited by construction features and the successful operation of smoke barrier and fire doors.
A short in the main electrical feeder busway also resulted in the loss of primary and emergency power to critical care units. The loss of emergency power was due to fire damage to emergency generator control wiring which was located near the busway.
The successful relocation and evacuation of patients were due to the prompt actions of the hospital trained in fire emergency procedures and the support of the fire department and emergency medical services. Effective fire and rescue operations were managed from fire and EMS command posts according to fire ground tactical and EMS disaster plans.
For more information on this hospital fire NFPA Fire Investigations
To read about fire statistics NFPA's Fires in Health Care Facilities