A Description of Organizational Activities In the Fitchville, Ohio Nursing Home Fire

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Disaster Research Center
In the early morning hours of Saturday, November 23, 1963, a fire completely obliterated the Golden Age Nursing Home in Fitchville, Ohio, killed 63 patients and routed 21 others plus a night staff of three attendants. Four firemen were injured in fighting the blaze. Only one other nursing home fire in the history of the country resulted in more victims. In terms of its spatial impact, the event clearly was not a community disaster. Still, it seemed to the Disaster Research Center that at least on a descriptive level something could be learned in this situation about: I. Disaster responses in an institutional setting; and 2. Organizational reactions to disasters in a non-urban area. However, the basic purpose of the field trip was to give members of the DRC staff further experience in an actual disaster situation. Thus, the description below is the by-product of a training mission and should be treated as such. On the afternoon of the fire, two research assistants of the DRC arrived in the area to observe the activities of organizations in this crisis. After visiting the site of the fire Saturday evening, they spent Sunday informally interviewing about a dozen individuals associated with the disaster involved agencies. An attempt was made to interview personnel in each principle organization that participated in the emergency operations. Among those members of the local sheriff’s department, State Highway Patrol, and Salvation Army, as well as volunteer firemen.
Fitchville, Ohio, Fire, Organizational Activities