On September 19, 1990, a fire at a board and care occupancy in Bessemer, Alabama resulted in four fatalities. Fortunately, eleven residents were evacuated by the actions of a 16-year-old occupant, who was awakened by a smoke detector.
The fire originated in a centrally located room, where a couch was ignited by an elderly occupant attempting to light his pipe. Soon the fire activated the smoke detector in the room, waking the owner’s son, who began to carry patients out of the building. When he was no longer able to rescue occupants due to fire conditions, he alerted his parents in a nearby mobile home, and they called the fire department.
An inadequate water supply resulted in the building’s sprinkler system not working properly, illustrating important code enforcement lessons. NFPA members can download the full report for free, and all site visitors can download a summary in Spanish.