August 16, 2013

Essex County nursing home gets sprinklers


---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Not long after the new sprinkler system was installed at Essex County’s Horace Nye Nursing Home, it was put to the test.

“There was a fire in a light in a bathroom,” County Manager Daniel Palmer said Wednesday. “The sprinkler put the fire out; (staff) cleaned up the water.”

The fire was out before Elizabethtown Fire Department arrived, he said, and firefighters checked the facility and left.

“The sprinkler system worked perfectly,” Essex County Board of Supervisors Supervisor Margaret Bartley (D-Elizabethtown) said at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors earlier this week. “The issue was handled appropriately. They (staff) did an excellent job.

“It could have gone the other way, but because of employees’ training and their immediate response, it didn’t.”

The sprinklers are zoned, Palmer said, so only the bathroom one activated.


Essex County squeaked in under a federal deadline that mandated a working sprinkler system for the facility, beating an Aug. 13 deadline imposed by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Missing it could have ended authorization to accept Medicare/Medicaid residents at Horace Nye.

Nursing Home Administrator Deborah Gifford told the Board of Supervisors the system was turned on and operational in late July.

“We now have a fully executed fire-protection system and a letter of certification. This was necessary to be in compliance with the federal deadline.”

Albany Fire Protection of Watervliet submitted the lowest bid, $397,600, for both buildings at the 100-bed county-owned facility. 

Horace Nye was built before building codes required a sprinkler system, and it had never had one.


The county is completing sale of the Nursing Home to the Bronx-based Centers for Specialty Care, but the sprinkler installation had to be done by the August cutoff.

“The sprinkler system is now completely installed and functional,” Gifford said. “Punch-list inspection must still be completed.”

A punch list is a group of uncompleted contract items that must be done at the conclusion of a construction project.

Gifford said the next project is installation of a new power transformer to serve the Nursing Home.

“We are scheduled for disconnect, removal and installation,” she said. “The entire facility will be on emergency generator power (during the installation).”

She said they have additional generators standing by, as well, to ensure a seamless switch-over to the new transformer. The old one was wearing out and had become troublesome. 

The new unit cost about $20,000.

Also, Gifford said she has a plan to save the county money by leaving vacant a scheduling position at Horace Nye. The person left, and the duties would be divided among other staff members to save $27,500, she said.

The County Human Services Committee OK’d the proposal, and it gets another vote at Ways and Means on Aug. 26 and a final vote Sept. 3 at the board’s regular monthly session.

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