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Tuesday, 3 December 1974
Page: 3082


Senator Georges asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

(   1 ) For each of the past three years (a) how many nursing homes in Queensland closed because of adverse fire reports, (b) what was the identity of each such home, and (c) was it a commercial enterprise or a religious/charitable undertaking.

(2)   What are the similar details in relation to nursing homes currently operating which are the subject of adverse fire reports and, in each case, what are the details of the adverse reports.


Senator Wheeldon - The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

In answering this question it should be understood that the setting and policing of fire safety standards for nursing homes is a responsibility administered by the Queensland Government. In fact the general practice followed by previous Australian Governments and now by the present Australian Government is to accept, for purposes of establishing eligibility for nursing home benefits, nursing homes licensed by the Queensland Government. In short, the registration or the cancellation of registration of nursing homes rests in practice with the Queensland Government.

(1)   (a) 1972 -one 1973- seven 1974- nine (as at 3 1 October 1974)

(b)   Ascot Convalescent Home, Ascot; Avonlea Convalescent Home, Auchenflower; Bayview Nursing Home, Wellington Point; Bonnie Haven, Morningside; Brig-O-Doon Nursing Home, Yeronga; Clinton Convalescent Home, New Farm; Elin Nursing Home, Shorncliffe; Grayeagles Convalescent Home, East Brisbane; Indooroopilly Convalescent Home, Indooroopilly; Lorne Convalescent Home, Ashgrove; Lynfield Nursing Home, Wynnum; Machaven Nursing Home, Kelvin Grove; Mechain Nursing Home, Ashgrove; Moreton Nursing Home, Sandgate; Novello Nursing Home, Manly; San Michele, Ashgrove; Taringa Nursing Home, Taringa.

(c)   All of the homes mentioned in (b) were operated as commercial enterprise homes. No religious/charitable homes have ceased operation in the last 3 years because of adverse fire reports. However, one such home, Winston House, Gympie, has recently transferred all patients to a new building and the old ' fire risk' building is being demolished.

(2)   Details relating to nursing homes currently operating under adverse fire reports are as follows:

(a)   Commercial Enterprise Homes

Bellevue Nursing Home, Eagle Junction

Date of last Fire Inspection: IS November 1973

Description of Premises: Old elevated timber dwelling converted and extended for its present use. Exterior walls of hardwood, interior walls and ceilings of pine panelling.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 35 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include:

Improvements to ramps, provision of emergency lighting, replacement or rehanging of doors, provision of smoke detectors, additional fire fighting equipment, installation of fire resistant materials, installation of fire doors.

The recommendations as set out would upgrade the fire safety of the home to a standard that would ensure a margin of safety for the occupants in a fire emergency. But it is to be understood that even by implementing the recommendations the old structure could not be classified as a Fire Safe Building in the eyes of the Fire Authority'.

Broadwater Convalescent Home, Southport

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 29 June 1 973

Description of Premises: The building is an old converted house and is constructed largely of timber.

Summary of Fire Report: The fire report in this instance does not list specific recommendations. However, the Chief Officer of the South Coast Fire Brigade Board has commented as follows:

The risk of spread of fire is very high due to the highly combustible nature of building materials. Some of the patients are bed-ridden and most are under sedation at night, and difficulty could be experienced in evacuating these people in the event of an emergency. Owing to the nature of the flammable materials of which the building is constructed, little or no fire resistance is offered, and if fire did occur, it is the Fire Prevention Officer's opinion that it would be almost certain that loss of life may result'.

Crana Nursing Home, Herston

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 27 February 1974

Description of Premises: Two buildings connected by enclosed passageway. First floor of older building constructed largely of timber.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 8 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: provision of emergency lighting, installation of an automatic fire alarm system, improvements to means of escape, provision of fire resistant linings. 'The absence of emergency lighting would present difficulties to any evacuation of the premises during the night '.

The steepness of the ramp could cause injury to patients being removed from the Home in an emergency'.

A covered passageway connects both buildings at first floor level and would assist in the rapid communication of smoke and hot gases from one building to the adjoining building'.

The readily combustible building materials used would promote a rapid spread of fire to the first floor section'.

Dalkeith Nursing Home, Wooloowin

Date of Last Fire Inspection: IS March 1974

Description of Premises: Two buildings connected by covered passageway. Set on concrete and timber stumps, external walls are timber, internal walls lined with asbestos cement sheeting and timber.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 10 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: provision of emergency lighting, provision of additional fire fighting equipment, alterations to doorways and passageways, introduction of fire isolation measures.

The absence of emergency lighting would present difficulties to an evacuation of the premises during the night'.

There is insufficient fire fighting equipment to provide adequate coverage'.

The enclosed passage connecting both buildings would permit the rapid spread of fire and smoke between buildings'.

Herstonville Convalescent Home, Herston

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 28 March 1974

Description of Premises: Two interconnected two storey buildings, the older building having timber walls and partitions in the upper storey.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 8 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: provision of emergency lighting, alterations to fire fighting equipment, alterations to doorways and passageway, provisions of fire proofing material. 'The absence of emergency lighting would present difficulties to an evacuation of the premises during the night should normal lighting circuits fail'. 'The open dumb waiter in the kitchen would allow the rapid passage of fire and smoke onto the first floor and ceiling space. '

Kelvin Nursing Home, Kelvin Grove

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 13 December 1973

Description of Premises: This building is a converted highset residence of considerable age. The original verandahs have been enclosed to provide more accommodation space.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 1 1 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: provision of emergency lighting, alterations to doorways, installation of smoke detectors, installation of fire resistant material, wider passageway.

With the exception of the installation of an automatic fire alarm system, which does nothing to overcome the high fire risk problem, there have been no improvements to the fire safety of the home since the previous fire inspection on5 October 1971 when it was stated that 'because of the age of the building and materials of construction the spread of fire would be rapid'.

Under existing conditions the safe evacuation of the occupants would be doubtful '.

Le Roy Convalescent Home, Corinda

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 8 April 1 974

Description of Premises: A converted high set residence of considerable age, constructed almost entirely of timber.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 20 individual items arc listed for correction. Recommendations include: alterations to doors and doorways, installation of emergency lighting, installation of smoke detectors, alterations to corridors, installation of fire resistant material.

In an emergency situation the loss of lighting increases any difficulty in reaching exists'.

There is no impediment to either fire or smoke travel. The nature of the materials used in the construction is such that fire spread would be rapid '.

MarianIlla Convalescent Home, Coorparoo

Date of Last Fire Inspection:1 May 1974

Description of Premises: A converted residence set on sloping ground. The building is basically of timber construction.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 14 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: provision of emergency lighting, installation of fire resistant material, alterations to doorways, alterations to corridors, installation of an automatic fire alarm system.

The building is deficient in fire/smoke isolation, fire protection is below an acceptable standard and the installed fire protection equipment is also below standard'.

It is considered that the premises can be upgraded in regard to fire safety but it would not be considered a fire safe building but one in which a margin of safety exists'.

Rangeview Convalescent Home, Toowoomba

Date of last Fire Inspection: 13 June 1974

Description of Premises: The home consists of an old and new wing. The old wing of timber, glass and corrugated iron, is situated at ground level on one side and is approximately 12 feet above ground on the other side.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 29 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include:- installation of smoke or combustion detectors, improvements to means of escape, provision of fire proofing material, smoke/fire isolate sections of the home, improve supervision of patients.

The Fire Authority has recommended that because of:

The age, type of construction, the difficulty of access both for fire appliances and the removal of patients in an emergency from the old wing, this wing be discontinued to be used as a convalescent home and detached from the new wing'.

The use of an early warning system only, whilst giving an early warning, would not control a lire which it is considered would spread with great rapidity'.

St Joseph 's Nursing Home, Morningside

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 3 May 1974

Description of Premises: A timber frame, timber floored structure with umber and asbestos cement interior linings.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 14 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: replacement of portable heaters with those of a fixed type, installation of fire resistant material, modifications to exits, stairways and ramps.

The design and material of construction do not allow for this structure to be made a fire safe building without major reconstruction which would be an uneconomical proposition. Fire, if uncontrolled, could be expected to spread rapidly throughout the building. Fire safety of the occupants must therefore depend on adequate supervision at all times. An automatic thermal alarm is installed and this, together with normal supervision of the occupied areas, gives reasonable protection for the occupied areas'.

St Kilda's Convalescent Home, Wynnum

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 26 March 1974

Description of Premises: An old timber dwelling, converted for its present use. Lined with pine and various other wallboards

Summary of Fire Report: Some 30 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include:

Modifications to doors and stairways, installation of emergency lighting, fire isolation of various areas, installation of "Combustion" detectors. These premises were reported to be unsuitable for use as a convalescent home. Adoption of the recommendations, it was stated would only give the inmates a degree of safety.

St Mary's Nursing Home, Manly

Date of Last Inspection: 19 April 1974

Description of Premises: Two storey structure. First floor of timber construction, lined with pine and fibro inside.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 25 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: modification of doors and stairways, installation of smoke stop elements, installation of combustion detectors.

The upper storey of this two storey structure is not fire isolated from the lower floor and in the opinion of the Chief Fire Officer only its replacement with a fire resistant construction would render the building fire safe.

The first floor area is unsuitable for use as a convalescent home due to the flammability of the materials of construction '.

Sandgate Nursing Home, Sandgate

Date of Last Inspection: 19 March 1974

Description of Premises: An old single storey timber frame structure with timber floors and iron roof. Internal linings arc mainly hardboard and pine.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 12 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: installation dan automatic fire alarm system, emergency lighting, installation of self closing doors, installation of fire resistant material.

If an outbreak of fire occurred, rapid flame and smoke spread could be expected due to the combustible nature of materials used in construction and the design of the building'.

Seahaven Convalescent Home, Sandgate

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 30 April 1 974

Description of Premises: The main building consists of a large high set dwelling, converted for its present use. Walls arc of timber, internal walls of pine, masonite and asbestos cement sheeting.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 13 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: installation of emergency lighting, construction of exit and ramp, installation of water extinguishers, installation of fire resistant material.

The internal partitions possess no appreciable fire resistance and would allow the unchecked spread of fire through the entire building. Glass louvers and open fanlights above ward doors in the central passageway would permit the rapid build up of smoke concentrations to all wards'.

Weewondilla Nursing Home, Clayfield

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 1 6 April 1974

Description of Premises: Large timber structure set on timber stumps. Internal partitions are constructed of fibrous plaster and asbestos cement sheeting affixed to timber stud frames.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 1 1 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: modifications to doors and doorways, installation of fire resistant material, installation of emergency lighting.

The materials used in the construction of the building have no appreciable fire resistance properties, this then allows the unchecked spread of fire and smoke to all sections of the building. '

Wooloowin Convalescent Home, Wooloowin

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 10 April 1974

Description of Premises: A converted low set residence of considerable age to which an annexe has been connected at the same floor level. A further annexe abuts the original building but is set about one foot above ground level.

Summary of First Report: Some 15 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: installation of emergency lighting, alteration of doorways, provision of smoke detectors, installation of fire resistant material, improvements to increase the capacity of fire fighting equipment.

Due to the age and present layout it is considered that fire spread in the Ward Building (which houses the non-ambulatory patients and the nurses station) would be very rapid.'

Means of escape are impaired.'

Implementation of the recommendations will not make this a "fire safe" building but are designed to allow for greater ease of escape and to restrict the rate of fire spread.'

Woolenville Convalescent Home, Wooloowin

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 23 November 1973

Description of Premises: An aged, highset timber building formerly a dwelling. All internal linings, floors and ceilings in the original building are pine.

Summary of Report: Some 20 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: alteration of exits and doorways, provision of emergency lighting, provision of smoke detectors, installation of self closing doors, installation of fire resistant material, reconstruction of ramp and corridor.

The condition of this building is such that any outbreak of fire would spread rapidly. The implementation of the recommendations would upgrade the fire safety to a standard that would give a margin of safety to the occupants. '

This does not mean that the home would then be regarded as a fire safe building.'

Wynnum Nursing Home, Wynnum

Date of last Fire Inspection: 14 April 1974

Description of Premises: Consists of an old 2 storey converted dwelling of timber construction, lined with pine and assorted wall boards, a new two storey masonry and concrete structure of modern design and a small single storey annexe of masonry and concrete construction.

Summary of Fire Report: Some 25 items are listed for correction. Recommendations include: modifications to doorways and stairways, repositioning of nurses station, installation of self-closing doors, installation of detectors, installation of fire resistant material.

Because of design and materials of construction of the old section the spread of fire would be rapid and for this reason this section was considered unsuitable for nursing home occupancy.'

By the implementation of the listed recommendations, the fire-safety would be upgraded to a standard that would ensure the required margin of safety for the occupants.'

However, it must bc understood that even with the provision of the listed requirements the old section would not fall into the category of a fire-safe building and its replacement with one of fire-resistant construction is again recommended.'

(   b) Religious and Charitable Homes

Burdeu House, Brisbane

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 5 August 1974

Description of Premises: Two abutting two storey buildings, the upper floor of one building being constructed of timber.

Summary of Fire Report: 7 items arc listed for attention. Recommendations include: installation of emergency lighting, improved means of escape, kitchen walls and ceiling to be lined with fire resistant materials, fit self closing fire doors, provide extinguishers with location indicators.

Hillcrest Nursing Home, Annerley

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 17 April 1973

Description of Premises: These premises comprise two sections- one of brick construction and the other older section of timber construction which is set on timber piers 10 feet high on one side.

Summary of Fire Report: Replacement of the older timber building with a fire resistant structure is recommended.

Because of its age and general construction it could be anticipated that the spread of fire would be extremely rapid in this building.'

Salvation Army Nursing Home, New Farm

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 1 7 December 1 97 1

Description of Premises: A very old building constructed al most entirely of timber.

 

Summary of Fire Report: Two items are listed for correction, being necessary for the immediate safety of the inmates. Replacement with a structure of fire resistant materials is also recommended.

Whilst the above recommendations are necessary for the immediate safety of the inmates, I consider this building . . . has existing conditions for the rapid spread of fire and that a serious life hazard exists whilst used for the present type of occupancy. '

Sunsetholme Nursing Home, Normanby

Date of Last Fire Inspection: 25 February 1972

Description of Premises: The nursing home forms part of an aged persons home complex, having a high timber content and being approximately 35 years old.

Summary of Fire Report: It is recommended that the complex be demolished and replaced with fire resistant buildings.

The situation in the main structure under fire conditions would be catastrophic'







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