Report Issued on Equitable Fire
The New York Board of Fire Underwriters has issued a report on the Equitable Building on February 16, in which the conclusions drawn concur with the opinions expressed in a recent issue of FIRE ENGINEERING. The conclusions drawn by the board are interesting because of the thorough investigation made by their engineers, and follows:
It is a tribute to the construction of the building from the viewpoint of fire prevention, that the fire did not attain more serious proportions. The fact is emphasized that security from fire does not alone lie in fireproof construction, hut some attention must be given towards making the contents fireproof. Most of the offices contain sufficient combustible materials to cause a very hot fire, sufficient in proportion to entirely destroy or badly damage the furnishings and contents.
The fire brought out the fact that the term “fireproof” has been generally misconstrued. Where combustible material exists there also exists the possibility of fire.
The introduction of flammable material, either in the form of pipe coverings or any other form into a pipe shaft invites trouble, and if ignited may be the cause of a disastrous fire. Shafts of any nature that extend through a building should at least be closed at the lower extremity and should not be roofed over with any material that will not readily vent the shaft in case of fire. Insufficient vent area at the top of a shaft causes fire to mushroom and find its outlet at some lower point.
Single walled metal filing cabinets filled with combustible material affords no protection to its contents. The cabinets in the fire were badly distorted from the heat. In casts where fire did not communicate direct, the heat of radiation was sufficient to destroy its contents.
There is no equipment that will act as a substitute for the human factor, and it is regrettable that the door leading to the shaft on the thirty-fifth floor was left open.