The goal of the Bureau of Fire Protection and Life Safety is to provide a reasonable level of safety, by reducing the probability of injury and loss of life from the effects of fire and other emergencies or events.
There have been several notable fires that have occurred throughout history that gave way to further insight and knowledge for the field of fire technology and life safety. For example, The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 destroyed over 3.3 square miles, killed roughly 300 people, and burned the majority of the city of Chicago over the course of several days. This fire is significant because it established the need for Fire Prevention.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, New York, destroyed a clothing manufacturing factory, and killed over 150 people. In the midst of this horrific event, this was the beginning of work occupancy loads and highlighted the importance of protected stair wells in high-rise buildings.
The Cocoanut Grove Fire, Boston ,1942, is the deadliest night club fire in history that killed over 492 people. The origin of the fire was determined by a candle igniting the interior curtains on the club walls. Fire Retardant Protection became a requirement for decoration.
Our Lady of Angels Fire 1958, in Chicago, was an elementary school that had a basement fire, which led to egress corridors and stair wells being blocked by smoke, heat, and fire. This led to major improvement in school’s design in regards to fire safety.
The MGM Grand Fire occurred in 1980 in Las Vegas. A fire broke out in a restaurant and spread across the casino floor with no sprinklers. Due to the finishes, toxic fumes and smoke spread through the hotel tower. Out of the 85 people that perished, 75 perished from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Station Nightclub Fire occurred in West Warwick, Rhode Island in 2003. Over 100 concert-goers perished in the club due to an indoor pyrotechnics prop igniting the interior walls of the venue. This tragic event made it illegal to use pyrotechnics indoors, promoted the use of better exit signage, and brought forth the demand for initial annual inspections on places of entertainment.
In more recent history, the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire in Oakland, CA, 2016, killed 36 people due to the incorrect use of occupancy. At the time the fire broke out, the warehouse played host to a concert, and individuals were unable to escape because the building was not permitted for use of an event. This reiterated the importance of annual fire inspections.
The best way to protect life and property from fire is to prevent that fire from happening in the first place.