160 patients transferred from Brockton Hospital after 10-alarm transformer fire
BROCKTON − Seventy-plus ambulances. Hundreds of firefighters and paramedics. Mutual aid from as far north as Brookline and as far south as Cape Cod. A closed hospital with zero electricity in a city of more than 100,000 residents.
That was the scene that unfolded throughout the day Tuesday at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital.
A transformer fire that broke out shortly before 8 a.m. in the basement of the hospital drew the largest response in the near-200-year history of the Brockton Fire Department.
The Brockton Fire Department said the 10-alarm fire response brought in 77 ambulances, six wheelchair vans, 31 fire engines and seven ladder trucks.
In the end, 160 hospital patients were transferred from Brockton Hospital to other medical facilities throughout Massachusetts with no injuries or deaths.
Mayor Robert Sullivan said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference that the fire resulted in the first-ever 10-alarm response in the history of the Brockton Fire Department.
Brockton Fire Chief Brian Nardelli ordered the 10th alarm at 12:21 p.m.
While the fire was extinguished by 9:25 a.m., evacuation efforts remained active into the afternoon.
Electricity was shut off at the building by National Grid and remained that way through at least Wednesday morning.
People driving by the hospital campus on Wednesday morning were met with signs stating the hospital and road were closed.
Signature Healthcare CEO and President Robert Haffey said Tuesday afternoon that the hospital was still assessing the damage and there was no timeline for reopening.
Signature Healthcare said in a Tuesday afternoon statement that all elective procedures occurring at Brockton Hospital are canceled through at least the end of day Friday, Feb. 10.
Outpatient services will continue as scheduled, Haffey said.
Nardelli said firefighting efforts were dangerous early on when the hospital's emergency generator kicked in while waiting for National Grid due to potential "electrocution issues."
"Once we were able to make our way in, after shutting down the power, we had to make a decision about the hospital and what we were going to do with the patients in the hospital," the chief said late Tuesday morning.
Multiple area fire departments assisted as part of an "Ambulance Strike Team" to help with evacuations.
Haffey said Tuesday afternoon that hospital staff and emergency personnel were able to move 160 patients out of the hospital "with zero injuries and zero deaths, which is of utmost importance" and that all patients "were placed at the appropriate level of care."
"Everyone is safely placed. There's maybe a handful of patients still in the hospital waiting to be transported," Haffey said Tuesday afternoon. "But as I said, no injuries, no deaths. We're very proud of how we handled this. Obviously, a horrible situation but with a very good ending."
Mutual aid responded from fire departments throughout the East Coast of Massachusetts.
"The problem is, we have to make sure we have the resources to be able to move some of these sick and injured patients," Nardelli said Tuesday morning as evacuations were underway. "Out of hospital time is a big issue for these patients. We need to make sure that we can get them to an appropriate facility, but we have to move them there swiftly so they're not out of hospital too long."
Sullivan thanked the "brave men and women that serve every day on the Brockton Fire Department," all the mutual aid partners and the "dedicated" staff and administration of the hospital.
"When we talk about collaboration, today was a wonderful example," the mayor said.
Patients were transferred to Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Cape Cod Hospital, Falmouth Hospital, Boston hospitals and more locations, Sullivan said.
Antoinine Louis, a Haitian-Creole and French interpreter for the hospital, was "in shock" when she went to work Tuesday morning.
"It was pitch black inside, the hospital hadn't said anything to us when I went to my office," she said. "Then I saw smoke and started evacuating with my other colleagues."
Louis was not a part of aiding patients evacuate, but she was told to remain outside of the hospital in case personnel were allowed back inside.
"I'm glad everybody's alive, everybody's OK," she said.
State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said there's no reason to believe the fire was "anything but accidental."
"There's severe damage to the main electrical room serving the main hospital," the fire marshal said. "That's where the focus is."
The mayor also said that Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll offered additional aid to Brockton in transporting patients out of the hospital.
Anyone with a loved one who was in Brockton Hospital on Tuesday when the fire occurred and who needs further information is asked to call 617-370-5971.
The exact cause of the fire will be under investigation.
Enterprise staff writer Namu Sampath contributed to this report.
Enterprise senior reporter Cody Shepard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Brockton Hospital fire live: Patients transferred after 10-alarm blaze