The Triangle Waistshirt Fire Of New York City

689 words - 3 pages

The Triangle Waistshirt Factory fire was one of the worst fires after the turn of the 19th century. It took the lives of over one-hundred and forty people, most of which died indirectly from the fires and smoke. While the fire was caused by an accident, the true culprit was negligence and shoddy management. The factory was located in the ten story Asch building in downtown Manhattan and owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris. Both men were notorious for their use of insurance fraud to collect money by setting fire to their building to collect the insurance money, which was a common practice during the time.

The building itself was ten stories tall and had four elevators to shuttle workers around. Sadly, only one of these elevators was fully functional and could carry a maximum of about twelve people per shuttle. The building also had two stairs leading down, but one of which was always locked during business hours to prevent worker theft and the other had a door which opened inward only. While the structure had a fire escape, the ladder itself was of terrible construction and could only hold up a few workers at a time. Due to the owners reliance on insurance fraud to make money, they refused to install sprinkler systems and other basic safety measures to keep the building safe as it would impair their fraud schemes. This would come back to haunt the workers during that fateful day.

The fire started in a rag waste bin. The managers on the floor immediately tried to put it out themselves with the fire hose that was installed. However, the hose itself was rotted and the main rusted from neglect and lack of service. Due to the lack of sprinklers and other means to slow or stop the fire, it quickly spread thanks to the abundant amount of fuel from the clothes being produced on site. People began to panic and run to the elevators and stairs. Many managed to get out from the inward door stairway while many others got trapped in the locked...

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