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This is a week to recall and reflect on two historic fires; Friday marked the 66th anniversary of Boston's Cocoanut Grove night club fire. The Boston (MA) Fire Department responded 5 alarms to Box 1521 that night, where 492 lives were lost and 166 were injured. Many of the doors to nightclub were bricked up or bolted shut and the entrance was a revolving door.

The night club was filled with flammable decorations, and although it was rated for 500 persons, officals estimated more than 1,000 people were in the building at the time of the fire. Below are photos from our good friend Bill Noonan

This morning, December 1, is the 50th anniversary of the Our Lady of the Angels fire in Chicago. On this tragic day, 92 children and 3 nuns lost their lives. The building was a two-story school with numerous renovations that been grandfathered regarding the codes of the day. Many lessons would come from both of these fires, to include panic hardware and exit requirements, flame retardant furnishing, and surface coatings.

We are extremely honored to have a recording with our good friend Mike Mason, who was a student at Our Lady of the Angels on December 1, 1958, and Fire Engineering technical editor Glen Corbett discussing the fire and what it means to us today. CLICK HERE to listen to this Fire Engineering Radio podcast.

posted by Bobby Halton
11/30/2008 07:10:00 PM

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Blogger Michael H. Reynolds said...

Reflection upon these tragic events forces me to lament the reactive position taken by many governing bodies, in that they only pass legislation and ordinances for public protection when forced by a high profile loss of life and/or property.

Also, I resent the shame and embarrassment brought upon the fire service by the firefighters who have filed suit against El Paso Natural Gas for the distress experienced by them during their response near Carlsbad, NM to the tragic pipeline explosion of August 2000 in which a family of 12 were killed. This litigation has been rejected twice by the courts, but a Board of Appeals in Santa Fe, NM ruled that it has merit and sent it back to the court in Roswell, NM for trial. The "discovery" process is currently under way. This challenge to the Firefightrers' Rule is disgusting.

The responders to the Cocoanut Grove and Our Lady of the Angels fires surely did not consider such disreputable action in pursuit of profit on the coattails of lost innocent lives.

Michael H. Reynolds, Fire Chief
Carlsbad Fire Dept.
Carlsbad, NM

Fri Dec 05, 08:46:00 AM EST  

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