State Senator Andy Dinniman is drafting a package of legislation designed to help prevent fatal fires like the one that struck the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community two years ago.

“It is important that we learn the lessons of the tragedy at Barclay Friends and act to help ensure that it never happens again,” Dinniman said. “To that end, I have been working with fire safety professionals to review and draft legislation improve the fire safety of senior care and senior living communities in Pennsylvania.”

On the evening of November 16, 2017, a fast-moving blaze swept through Barclay Friends claiming the lives of four residents of a building housing those with medical, personal care, and memory care needs. Following a lengthy investigation, the investigating team found that the main sprinkler valve was in the off position and investigators believe it was off at the time of the fire.

Dinniman said the first bill will focus on strengthening the security of the main (OS&Y) valve on fire sprinkler systems, as well as inspections of sprinkler valves and sprinkler systems.

“While we may never know what exactly caused the fire at the Barclay Friends that fateful night, we do know that the main sprinkler should have been on and that that, among several other factors made an already extremely dangerous much, much worse,” he said.

In addition to sprinkler security and inspection, Dinniman is reviewing bills that would focus on the use of exterior fire sprinklers, safer and less combustible building materials, and mandatory staffing levels in senior living communities.

“Our senior population, including those with memory and mobility needs, and their families deserve to know that they have the necessary protections to prevent an emergency or get to safety if one does strike,” Dinniman said. “And by improving these safety standards, we’ll also be supporting our emergency fire responders and firefighters who put their lives on the line responding to fires.”