State fire marshal orders immediate closure of Morristown group home

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MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE)  – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office today ordered the immediate closure of Second Chance, a Southern Care Group Home, because of the “facility’s numerous violations of state building safety standards that contributed to its ongoing dangerous and defective condition.”

Fire marshal inspectors visited the Morristown facility in February in response to a complaint and found numerous fire safety violations in addition to the former single-family residence being unlawfully used as an unlicensed group home.

A copy of the order can be viewed here.

The facility lacked bedrooms having adequate fire protection, as well as open junction boxes, improperly serviced fire extinguishers and other violations, according to a press release.

The report notes that among the nine residents in the facility were two people who were not capable of self-preservation.

A return visit by an inspector revealed additional violations of the state electrical code, including extension cords used in place of permanent wiring, improper installation of electrical equipment and other violations that compromised the safety of the facility’s residents.

“After the inspection, facility owner and manager Whitley Gilbert was given two opportunities to provide a Plan of Corrective Action (POCA) to address the violations. Instead, she failed to provide a plan to bring the facility into compliance with life-safety codes for the safety of the facility’s residents,” said the fire marshal’s office in a press release.

“The owner of this facility had numerous opportunities in the past to make improvements that would have created a safer group home and would have meant avoiding our team taking this action today,” Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley said. “Instead, the owner did not take our findings seriously and continued to put avoiding compliance of the law ahead of her residents’ safety.”

The Tennessee Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services Division is assisting the residents of the Second Chance group home.

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