Recent Fires Spur Prevention Efforts
Following recent disastrous hotel fires in Chicago and Dubuque, Ia., fire prevention efforts are being spurred in several U. S. cities, the International City Managers’ Association reported recently.
New interest throughout the nation in the need for stricter safety measures was focused sharply by the two tragic blazes that occurred less than four days apart— the Chicago La Salle Hotel fire snuffing out 61 lives June 5 and the Dubuque, Canfield Hotel fire killing at least 15 persons June 9.
In Milwaukee, an inspection is underway by the fire prevention bureau of every hotel, theater, night club, old people’s home, orphanage and college dormitory in the city. The 20-man bureau is checking condition of fire escapes, ease of access to them, freedom of stairways and fire escapes from obstruction. Storerooms are being inspected for accumulations of rubbish, and the serviceability of all standpipes and hose is being tested.
St. Louis city officials are considering revision of the city safety code to require owners of hotels built before enactment of present safety regulations to make basements fire-resistive or install standard sprinkler systems. Current provisions are not retroactive and hence do not cover older buildings.
Just two days before the Chicago Hotel fire, Baltimore, Md., adopted a strict fire prevention code prohibiting smoking in theatres and department stores and limiting attendance at night clubs. The new code provides for fines up to $100 of persons smoking in theatres and in stores dealing in inflammable products. Proprietors are allowed, however, to provide designated safety zones for smoking.
To make fire prevention easier and facilitate evacuation of buildings in case fire does occu,r, the Baltimore code limits the number of persons who may gather in bars and night clubs to one for each six square feet of floor area. Similar limits are placed on assembly in theatres, while assembly in restaurants is limited to one pqrson for each ten square feet of floor space.
Among major cities in which fire ordinances have been knit together into fire prevention codes or whe.re fire prevention bureaus have been created are Detroit; Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Rochester and Schenectady, N. Y; Richmond, Va.; Minneapolis; Los Angeles, Berkeley, Oakland, and Long Beach, Calif.