Firefighter Training

Happy Land Fire: Have We Learned The Lessons?

Issue 8 and Volume 154.

The Happy Land Social Club problem developed over a long period of time, spanning the tenures of three mayors, numerous police and fire commissioners, and dozens of agencies. BY THOMAS P. MULLIGAN The Happy Land Social Club fire occurred in New York City on March 25, 1990. The gasoline-fueled, fast-moving fire killed 87 within two minutes and injured 28. The fire was determined to be arson, set by a man who wanted revenge for having been turned away from the club. This fire lasted approximately five minutes, yet it had a profound effect on the emergency workers, the community, and the city: Firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel lost their confidence in the belief that if they got to the emergency scene in a timely manner and performed their job properly, no matter what the circumstances, the result would be success. The community realized that it was not immune to…

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