Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What have we really learned about fire prevention?

"Heads must roll for this travesty unbelievable it was allowed to happen. "

Fire prevention in the year 2010 Have we really learned anything?

The above statement was not made in 2010. In fact it wasn't even made this century. The year was 1903 and people were infuriated over the 602 deaths of men, women, and children in a fire that occurred at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago Illinois.

With 602 dead there was not one red penny given in compensation. Numerous fire and building officials were on the take and fire-proof features that were boasted about when the theater was built were never really implemented or completed allowing for the huge death toll. Worse yet, not a single official spent one minute of time in jail for the incident.

This Could Just as Easily Happen Today
It was only a decade ago when 101 people died in the tragic Station Night Club Fire in Rhode Island. Since 2000, this same type of fire has killed hundreds more in clubs around the world where pyrotechnic displays started fires. So have we really learned anything? Apparently not.

We continue to construct homes and buildings using such light weight material that sprinklers are required. Fine and dandy, but that's assuming the system is properly working and maintained. As we have found out, this is not always the case. In fact, a sprinkler system was responsible for taking a woman's life after it caused an explosion due to improper installation.

We have not learned in Pennsylvania either. When PA's new UCC building code went into effect in 2003, it opened the door to legal consumer-grade fireworks to be sold everywhere and they are being sold everywhere, around memorial day and July 4th especially. The number of accidental fires and injuries from fireworks has quadrupled since that time. Is there any doubt that sometimes we're our own worst enemy here in PA?

Fires During Severe Winter Weather
With the terrible winter we just experienced, as many as 25 individual structure fires took place everyday in western PA, from December 1st through late February. Many of them were due to improper use of space heaters and overloaded and faulty wiring, not counting how many people died from CO poisoning.

How about New York City? Look at all the fire and building officials found on the take in 2009 who were responsible for allowing cranes to collapse. Again, have we gotten anywhere? Have we really learned anything? The answer to that is no, and the very words which were shouted in anger in 1903 will be heard again sometime this decade. Why call it human nature because as long as there is someone willing to put someone else at risk, and as long as people refuse to educate themselves, the cycle will never be broken.


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