Cocoanut Grove Coalition Created to Mark Fire's 70th Anniversary, Create Web Site

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has teamed up with Boston Fire Department, Boston Fire Historical Society, Boston Fire Museum, City of Boston Archives, Boston Public Library and Massachusetts General Hospital to form The Cocoanut Grove Coalition to preserve the history of this monumental fire for future generations. The nightclub fire, which occurred in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 28, 1942, resulted in the death of 492 people. It was the deadliest nightclub fire in history.

In a video interview, Sue Marsh, NFPA's librarian talks about her work with other groups to combine materials on Cocoanut Grove to make them accessible through a single Web site. According to Marsh, time was of the essence as all agreed that it was vital not to let more time pass before gathering additional resources, especially personal accounts from those impacted by the fire, "knowing that if we didn't, things would be lost." Three videos in which Cocoanut Grove fire victims tell their stories exemplify the rich content that has come from these collections and this project.

All of the organizations represented in the coalition have material related to the fire. The intent of the project, according to Marsh, is to provide a single way to access all of the information as well as attract additional information that is out there but has not surfaced.

The NFPA library receives more requests related to Cocoanut Grove than any other incident. In the November/December issue of NFPA Journal, Fred Durso, Jr. wrote:  "Unlike some earlier landmark fires, like the Triangle Waist Co. fire in New York in 1911, Cocoanut Grove did not result in significant changes to NFPA codes; the Building Exits Code, the precursor to NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, already addressed the types of hazards present at the club. Local fire and safety codes, however, in Boston and in municipalities throughout the country, underwent sweeping changes, including the reclassification of nightclubs and restaurants as places of public assembly, which is how they were already regarded in the Building Exits Code. The change introduced more stringent requirements for exits, emergency lighting, occupancy capacities, and other safety features."

For more information, visit The Cocoanut Grove Fire Web site.

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