Hazard of Flimsy Frame Hotels

Hazard of Flimsy Frame Hotels

Within the month of March two pleasure resorts have been visited by disastrous fires in big frame hotel structures. One of these—that at Palm Beach, Florida.—is described in this week’s issue; the other, occurring on March 8, was in Ye Olde Greenwich Inn, at Sound Beach, Conn. By rare good fortune both of these fires occurred at times when loss of life was avoided—the former because the fire occurred in the afternoon when most of the guests were away and the latter because the structure was closed for the season.

Hundreds of just such fire traps as these are scattered throughout the land. Practically every resort—summer or winter—has many such structures. Probably few of the people who patronize them give even a passing thought to the chances they are taking when they go to their rooms to retire for the night. Most of these frame structures are old and dry as tinder, constructed at a period when fire prevention was little understood, with long corridors that are veritable fire vents. If a blaze in one of these buildings starts at night heavy loss of life is sure to result. The rapidity with which the fire in “The Breakers” involved the entire structure is a vivid illustration of what would happen if such a fire occurred in the sleeping hours.

In many cases the hotels which replace the burned structures according to the announcement of the owners are to be of fireproof construction. This is as it should be. In fact rigid ordinances should provide for such fire proof structures to replace those burned. But this does not relieve the situation. If statistics were available it would no doubt be found that few of these old frame buildings are torn down in comparison to those destroyed by fire. Probably a campaign of education among the potential guests of such fire traps would have more influence that any fire prevention regulations —which it would be difficult to pass and harder to enforce in making present dangerous structures safe. If such people could be persuaded to choose fire resistant hotels and those in which the guests were properly protected from the dangers of fire, the demand for such safe structures would do much in reforming the situation.

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