Ignoring Fire Marshal’s Tag puts lives at risk, leads to $1 million lawsuit

How would you feel if someone in your family or someone close to you was living in an assisted-living facility with a fire protection system that didn’t work and the building management knew it was broken? This was exactly the case at a high rise assisted-living facility in Fort Worth, Tx as reported by the Star-Telegram this summer.

Pretty shocking news report, isn’t it?  According to the story, Texas and its Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) has filed a lawsuit against the facility and management group seeking penalties of up to $1 million.  The suit alleges that false information was provided to the state consumer protection division and that management ignored a fire marshal’s tag stating that the fire pumps were broken. Even more amazing, according to the story, is that this system, which broke during a freeze in winter 2011-12, could have been repaired for less than $3,000!

This is one of those cases where you really try and think through scenarios that could have allowed this to happen:  Did they not have the money to repair the fire pumps?   Did the building manager not take the fire marshal’s tag seriously?   Were the property owners made aware of the situation, or was it kept from their view?   And what we really want to know is, did they have a fire protection company watching these systems and offering solutions to get these fire safety pumps working?

This is obviously serious business with serious consequences.  Ignoring or putting off inspections and maintenance of your fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems can be extremely costly not only in penalties and fines, lives are also put in danger.

In Texas, DADS has very clear-cut rules and regulations for fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems in assisted living facilities operating in the state.  According to the DADS safety regulations, the assisted-living facility must have a written contract with a fire protection sprinkler company that has been issued a Sprinkler Certificate of Registration number (SCR) from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office to perform the required services semiannually. The facility must have documentation available to show that all the requirements of NFPA 25 have been met including the annual inspection, test, and maintenance by the registered fire sprinkler company. The facility must retain one set of the fire sprinkler system plans and hydraulic calculations on the property in accordance with NFPA 25. Click here to see the complete DADS guidelines: In these guidelines, fire protection systems must be inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 25.

Whether you own or are managing an assisted-living facility, warehouse or industrial property, you need a leader to keep you informed, updated and well documented with all of your required fire protection inspections.  This leader is Crisp-LaDew, #1 in Texas for fire protection services for over 80 years.

Watch firemen battle an aggressive fire at an assisted-living facility in The Woodlands, near Houston