Building Construction, Fire Prevention & Protection

Illegal Conversions: The Hidden Danger to Firefighters and the Public

Issue 6 and Volume 173.

By Raymond O’Brocki On December 2, 2016, at 11:20 p.m., a fire broke out in the first floor of the “Ghost Ship,” a warehouse that had been converted to artist studios and was permitted for industrial uses only. It was not permitted as a residential or an assembly occupancy. The night of the fire, the “Ghost Ship” hosted a concert in a performance space on the second floor. The first-floor fire trapped partygoers on the second floor. Although the cause of the fire was undetermined, the fire resulted in the death of 36 occupants; the early retirement of the fire chief; and the indictment, arrest, trial, and subsequent plea deal of two men on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.1 RELATED FIREFIGHTER TRAINING The Essential Elements of Community Risk-Reduction The Dangers of Illegally Converted Private Dwellings Conversions to Multi-Family Dwellings The “Ghost Ship” is a stark example of how dangerous an…

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