Spring Valley Fire Department fire fighter killed in the collapse of burning Spring Valley senior home, US
A volunteer fire fighter died while trying to rescue residents of an assisted living home in suburban New York, US, that was engulfed in flames on Tuesday, 23 March 2021. He was identified as Jared Lloyd, a 35-year-old father of two young boys. Lloyd was last heard from when he issued a mayday call early Tuesday from Evergreen Court Home for Adults in the Rockland County community of Spring Valley. He did not make it out of the building as it collapsed. The fire also killed a male resident, who was not identified. Lloyd was the father of two boys: Darius, 5 and Logan, who turned 6 Wednesday, the fire fighter’s father told media. “Jared Lloyd gave his life in service to others. He searched as the building burned determined to rescue anyone who may have been trapped,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said at a news conference. “His loss is devastating. There is no other way to put it. But I will tell you this: his loss and his heroism will never be forgotten.” Two other fire fighters were injured. One was released from the hospital and the other was kept overnight due to high carbon monoxide levels.
The call that emergency workers received just before 01h00am on Tuesday was distressing: A fire had broken out at an assisted-living facility in the New York City suburbs and dozens of residents were trapped inside. When fire fighters arrived at the building, flames were ripping through it. As the fire spread toward the roof, dozens of people were fleeing. Emergency responders and staff began carrying some residents out, then returning to help others evacuate.
“It’s one of your worst nightmares,” said Rockland County’s fire coordinator, Chris Kear. “It’s not your typical house fire where there are five or six residents. You’re talking about an adult care facility where you have over 100 people.”
As fire fighters continued to fight the flames on Tuesday morning, officials announced that one male resident had died after being taken to a nearby hospital. And early Wednesday morning, officials said they had recovered the body of a fire fighter, one of the first to report to the scene, who had previously been unaccounted for. The recovery effort was hampered Tuesday by the intense heat of the smouldering wreckage. Crews were still at the scene Wednesday morning putting out hot spots and securing the structure while an investigation into the cause continued.
Thirteen residents were taken to hospitals and one was in critical condition, Chris Kear, Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services director, said.
The home, about 50 kilometres north of New York City, housed 112 residents, according to its operator. Parts of the home were three storeys high and Kear said some residents were trapped on floors above the fire.
The operators of the home said in a statement Tuesday that all the survivors had been accounted for and would be placed in a new home. “This is an unspeakable tragedy at Evergreen Court Home and our hearts and prayers go out to all individuals and families who have been impacted,” the statement read.
Lloyd was among more than 100 volunteer fire fighters from departments around the region who responded and worked to shepherd the residents to safety, officials said.
Kear said the investigation into the cause could take some time.
“There’s tons of debris there,” he said “It’s very time consuming and meticulous to go through. And it really has to be thoroughly looked at piece by piece.”
Low water pressure from nearby hydrants hampered fire fighting efforts, officials said. In February, smoke alarm and sprinkler systems were reviewed and up to date. Investigators continue to look for the cause of the fatal fire Tuesday at an adult home in Spring Valley that took the lives of a resident and a fire fighter and displaced more than 100 people.
Rockland County officials said on Wednesday that they were still working to determine what happened at Evergreen Court Home for Adults, where a blaze burned for several hours early Tuesday at 65 Lafayette Street.
Fire fighters and police rescued many residents from the facility, which houses 112 people, Kear said. He said 13 residents and two fire fighters were taken to hospitals. One resident was in critical condition as of Wednesday morning.
Past violations, challenges at scene
While battling the blaze, fire fighters became hampered by low water pressure from the area hydrants, Kear said. The fire fighters had to extend the hose lines to other hydrants dozens of yards away. Low water pressure has been a consistent problem in areas of the village.
SUEZ-New York water company didn’t respond directly to the pressure issue. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life at Tuesday’s tragic fire,” spokesman William Madden said. “A SUEZ operations professional was an active member of the emergency response team at the scene, as requested by fire officials.”
The facility had been cited for 27 violations by the New York State Health Department from 1 October, 2016 to 30 September 2020. There have been no enforcement actions against the operator during the reporting period, according to the department’s profile on the Lafayette Street facility.
The state Health Department noted in a 2019 citation that the facility must have its fire alarm and sprinkler systems routinely inspected. Officials did not return several requests for more details on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Rockland Department of Health found in February that the smoke alarm and sprinkler systems were reviewed and were up to date.
Kear said Wednesday that the investigation could determine whether the systems worked during the blaze and which parts of the building had sprinklers.
Evergreen Director Denise Kerr said the entire building had sprinklers and the system was operational. There were no outstanding fire safety violations with the state or county prior to last night’s fire, she said in a statement. The owners, the Schonberger family, bought the building about 20 years ago and has not done any major construction or additions aside from internal renovations, Kerr said. The building was constructed in 1903.
Evergreen also has rooming house and food-service establishment permits from the Rockland Department of Health, which inspects the facility to ensure compliance with the county’s sanitary code.
The last inspection for the Food Service Establishment Permit took place on 24 February 2021, when inspectors found minor violations, Kear and county spokesperson John Lyon said. The violations included dirty surfaces in the kitchen, dust in the walk-in cooler, and peeling paint on the meat kitchen ceiling, Lyon said. The permit was issued and is valid until 30 November 2021.
Kear said he’s not aware of any active violations at Evergreen based on the inspections of the Rockland Health Department.
Spring Valley’s annual inspection reports that would document any fire and safety code violations were not available, Assistant Village Attorney Jeffrey Millman said Wednesday. The village building department had turned over the documents to the police and other agencies investigating the fire, he said.
Millman said Evergreen had been inspected in 2020 but he didn’t know the results.
Sources: Market Drayton Fire Station, Pleasant Valley Fire District, The Associated Press, The New York Times