February 13, 2023

176 Patients Evacuated From 10-Alarm Fire at Brockton Hospital

176 Patients Evacuated From 10-Alarm Fire at Brockton Hospital

Image: Brockton Hospital

During shift change on February 7th, an electrical transformer fire broke out at Brockton Hospital in Massachusetts. The 10-alarm fire forced the facility to be completely evacuated and all patients were transferred to other hospitals. At the time of the fire, it was roughly 20 degrees causing concerns for the critically ill during evacuation. 

Brockton Hospital, founded in 1896, is the oldest and largest healthcare inpatient faculty in the area. Located approximately 25 miles south of Boston, Brockton Hospital is owned by Signature Healthcare. The nonprofit hospital is licensed with 216 beds and currently had over 170 patients at the time of the fire. 

Shift Change Chaos 

Nurse Felicia Daley was nearing the end of her shift and assisting a patient on the cardiac floor when the power went out, and fire alarms went off. Daley explained, "You kind of realized it probably wasn't a drill when the power goes out. But the fire alarm's going off, and now I can smell smoke."

The fire quickly grew and first responders and firefighters from all over the state responded to the 10-alarm fire. Over 70 ambulances arrived to transfer the more than 170 patients. All critical care patients and even actively laboring patients were successfully transferred without any injuries or casualties. 

After the fire alarms sounded, all of the hospital’s double doors and electronic doors closed. This typically occurs when a fire alarm goes off even during a fire drill or safety event.  "At that point, I went through one of the smoke doors to our main nurses station, and that's when it was really clear that not only was there smoke, but it was close. It was close to this floor," Daley said.

Daley and her team began moving patients from the second floor through the smoke to areas that were further away from the fire. Once the area was cleared, firefighters arrived and told the staff that it was no longer safe and that everyone must immediately evacuate the building. 

"And we have that moment where your heart is just, 'Can I do that? Can I leave my patients?' You know, the firefighters are telling you something and you have to listen to them," Daley said. "Everyone was just like, 'OK, we're going to leave, but we're going to go grab one more patient before we go.' And trusting that, you know, the last 10 patients on the second floor were going to get out by the firefighters."

Image: Brockton Hospital Fire

Staff utilized personal cell phones during the power outage as all power was cut off and hospital phones as well as overhead speakers were not functioning. A central command was quickly set up and through careful and diligent communication, staff was able to alert medical providers and hospital administrators of urgent needs as well as monitor each patient's location.

A major concern for the healthcare staff was the lack of medical oxygen available and the lack of availability of stored medicine including narcotics. All patients who required oxygen including those on ventilators needed to be switched to portable oxygen tanks. Those patients requiring constant sedation were at high risk of running out of medications. 

"This nurse was able to tell the doctor, 'Hey, listen, this drip is off. The patient will start waking up; what can we do for them?'" Daley explained. Fortunately, the central command team was able to find enough medications for those patients.

"Honestly, it's a miracle that it happened at the time it did, because I think it would have been a very different story had it been at 4 a.m. and not at almost 7," Daley said.

Social Media Response

As the fire continued to grow and spread rapidly, social media kept employees as well as families abreast of the situation at Brockton Hospital. 

Brockton Fire’s official Twitter kept the local community up to date as well as asked all families to reach out to the official hospital number to determine where specific patients were transferred. 


Official Statements

During a press conference, Brockton Fire Chief Brian F. Nardelli said, "This went as smooth as it possibly could working with the Brockton Hospital staff and our own membership, the Brockton Fire Department, our community partners, and mutual aid partners.”

Hospital CEO Robert Haffey said, "I do want to also compliment and stress how brave the nursing staff and other staff in the hospital were. They did an incredible job. I was up on the floors with them as we were moving patients. Just an incredible sight to see the teamwork that occurred today."

Brockton Hospital remains closed at this time. This official statement was released following the fire to their website. 

“In the midst of Tuesday’s electrical fire, we safely evacuated 176 patients, discharged 38, and transported 138 to other area facilities without incident or injury. Now that the immediate emergency has passed, Signature Healthcare’s focus remains committed to our staff’s health and well-being and to safely re-open Brockton Hospital as soon as possible. We are following a process to evaluate repairs to re-open the hospital. Assessments from insurance, fire, police, building and utility experts are ongoing.

Brockton Hospital remains closed with no emergency services, elective procedures or other patient care visits.

All other outlying buildings on the hospital campus are open, staffed and accepting scheduled patients. All Signature Medical Group ambulatory sites are open and accepting scheduled patients.

We are developing a plan for the redeployment of staff to other areas of the organization. We are also assessing the relocation of identified hospital outpatient services such as pediatrics, wound, infusion, cardiac and pulmonary testing, vascular lab and extended services and hours for radiology and phlebotomy. All permanent staff are continuing to be paid according to their regular schedule. Support services are being provided to all Signature Healthcare staff through our Employee Assistance and Wellness programs.

Signature Healthcare owes a tremendous amount of gratitude to our unwavering and committed front-line staff while receiving an outpouring of support from first responders, local & state agency partners and legislators. We are immensely grateful to our staff and the support of our community partners.

If you wish to make a gift to support our recovery, please visit our donations page.”

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