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Historic Industrial Fires And Their Influence On Contemporary Fire Protection

Zalosh, R., 2003. Historic Industrial Fires And Their Influence On Contemporary Fire Protection. Fire Safety Science 7: 75-90. doi:10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.7-75


Brief accounts of five large industrial fires are presented to show how they stimulated advances in fire protection. The five fires reviewed are the 1911 New York City garment factory fire, the 1953 Livonia, Michigan automobile transmission factory fire, the 1977 Cologne, Germany automobile parts warehouse fire, the 1986 Basel, Switzerland chemical warehouse fire, and the 1987 Hinsdale, Illinois telephone exchange fire. Investigations and repercussions of these fires helped lead eventually to several key fire protection developments including: extensive revisions in and awareness of building egress and fire resistance requirements and capabilities, scientifically based laboratory flammability testing, significantly enhanced warehouse sprinkler protection, less hazardous flammable liquid containers, and improvements in the prevention and control of electrical cable fires.


historic fires, fire codes, industrial fires, fire protection technology

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