Executive Summary: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fires
On March 25, 1911, 146 young shirtwaist makers and plant managers lost their lives as a fire erupted in the building. Workers were unable to escape because of locked doors. Ladders by the Fire Department were unable to reach the 8th floor, the source of the fire. Many jumped from the burning building. The death toll was substantial. Many were quick to judge the efforts of the Fire Department, claiming they were useless in the situation
It is reported that employees were unable to escape because of locked doors that were meant to prevent thefts. He also related that ladders were too short to reach. The jumping of employees to the streets below. All three were possible reasons for the high death toll.
At the time of the fire all that was available to fight the large fire were 27fire buckets, certainly an inefficient method of fighting the inferno. The only fire escape was incapable of actually supporting the weight of a person and the elevator shaft was impassible. Engine Company 72 and 33 were the first to reach the fire however their hoses could only reach the fourth floor. The equipment used by the fire department nearly all failed to function properly. Ladders and hoses failed to reach the upper levels, and even fire rescue blanket ripped from the weight of the falling girls. All of these inadequacies helped spurn government regulations of buildings and fire codes.
The victims were primarily young girls between the age of 13 and 23. Most of the deaths resulted from the girl’s attempts to jump from the building, some as many as nine floors up. Others who could exit because of locked doors were burned alive. The death toll was exceedingly high from hat should have been an easily preventable circumstance This accident reminds us that work safety should be the most valued aspect within an industrial situations.
In relation to other recent events the Triangle Fire is comparable to the loss of life in 9/11. I found this an interesting comparison in terms of the similarities of challenges employees faced by trying to escape the building. To determine the stressfulness of a traumatic event, there has been devised a source of analysis based on key features associated with disaster. These include general understanding of the event, the ability to avoid the event, the suddenness, duration, and intensity of the event (CDC, 2012). All of these factors are severe in this case. There are also many societal factors that may also contribute to the severity, such as the lack of preparedness of the fire department. The preparedness, resources, and support provided by the community all affect the level of stress (CDC, 2012). Personal factors also exist. An individual’s closeness to an event, their background and personal lose also contribute to individual severity (CDC, 2012). This event greatly impacted the city and changed how the world looked at fire safety for decades to come.
In conclusion, this incident prevents all the key factors of a disaster as it is described by the CDC. The loss of lives could most likely have been prevented had more thought gone into fire preparedness of the behalves of both the factory and the fire department.
- Uniform fire code (1985 ed.). (1985). Whittier, Calif. (5360 South Workman Mill Rd., Whittier 90601): Western Fire Chiefs Association :
- . Drehle, D. (2003). Triangle: the fire that changed America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
- CDC. (2012). Disaster mental health primer: Key principles, issues and questions. Retrieved from http://www.bt.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/primer.asp
- Greene, J. D., & Drehle, D. (2007). The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. New York: Bearport.
- National Center for PTSD. (2011, March 16). Mental health effects following disaster: Risk and resilience factors . Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/effects-disasters-mental-health.asp