Fire Commissioner praises response to nursing home tragedy

Published: 18th November 2011

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) officers are currently assisting police investigating the cause of a tragic nursing home fire at Quakers Hill this morning.

About 100 firefighters from throughout western Sydney responded after an automatic fire alarm activated just before 5am today when a fire broke out at the Hambledon Rd property.

FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said the first fire crews arrived within six minutes of notification.

“Firefighters found a room well alight and a whole wing of the nursing home full of black smoke,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“Firefighters in breathing apparatus rescued about 100 residents while working to extinguish the fire. They were assisted by police and ambulance paramedics who helped move the rescued residents to safety.

“It was a firefighters’ worst nightmare – a fire involving dozens of frail, elderly people, many of whom could not walk.

“The smoke was so thick and black that firefighters couldn't see their hands in front of their face. There were also tiles falling on top of them from the burning roof.

“All the emergency services did a fantastic job and I am so proud of our firefighters who put their own lives on the line for others.

“It has been a huge tragedy, with three deaths currently confirmed (as at 11am), but it could have been a lot worse if it hadn't been for the quick actions of all emergency services personnel and nursing home staff, who did an outstanding job in the first vital minutes.”

Commissioner Mullins said the operation had now moved into the investigation phase and FRNSW’s fire investigation unit was assisting police experts in investigating the cause of the fire.