SFMO Issues Order Seeking Immediate Compliance or Closure of Morristown Group Home Because of Unsafe, Hazardous Conditions

Press Release #
house of Southern Care Group Home

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) today ordered the immediate closure of Second Chance (Southern Care Group Home) located at 4680 Reggie Drive in Morristown, TN, because of the facility’s numerous violations of state building safety standards that contributed to its ongoing dangerous and defective condition.

In February, SFMO inspectors visited the Morristown facility 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. The facility lacked bedrooms having adequate fire protection as well as open junction boxes, improperly serviced fire extinguishers and other violations. Among the nine residents in the facility were two people who were not capable of self-preservation.

On a subsequent visit, a SFMO inspector found 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.

“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,” said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “Instead, the owner did not take our findings seriously and continued to put avoiding compliance of the law ahead of her residents’ safety.”

Farley continued: “I urge Tennesseans who might have knowledge of similar situations in their communities to report their concerns to our team in order to help avoid a potentially tragic situation from occurring.”

To contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office or file a complaint, visit websitevisit website or call (615) 741-7190.

The Department of Commerce and Insurance additionally made a referral to the Tennessee Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services (APS) Division to request assistance for the residents of the Second Chance group home. DHS cannot confirm receipt of any specific reports but states that in general, when APS receives a report, APS staff assesses the need for protective services for vulnerable adults and works with local organizations to provide assistance. This can include a variety of services, including helping find alternative housing if needed.