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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Question of the Day #3

Ok fire trivia junkies... let's get to it... hopefully we start getting a little more interaction going here soon

Here is your Fire Trivia Question of the Day......remember.. no Google, no Cheating :-)

This was the Deadliest Public Assembly Fire in US History:

A. Dance Hall, Via Platt, LA

B. Rhythm Club, Natchez, MS

C. Iroquois Theater

D. Beverly Hills Supper Club, Southgate, KY

Answer Posted Below.....

Bi-Paula and @scribbles412 were right!  (...and who says movies aren't educational ?  LOL)

The Deadliest Public Assembly Fire in US History was:

C. Iroquois Theater

 Ever wonder why Fire Inspections and Code Enforcement are so important ? Read on........

The Iroquois Theater fire occurred on December 30, 1903, in Chicago, Illinois. It is the deadliest Public Assembly fire in United States history. A total of 602 people died as a result of the fire. Despite being billed as "Absolutely Fireproof" in advertisements and playbills, numerous deficiencies in fire readiness were apparent. An editor of Fireproof Magazine had toured the building during construction and had noted "the absence of an intake, or stage draft shaft; the exposed reinforcement of the (proscenium) arch; the presence of wood trim on everything and the inadequate provision of exits.” A Chicago Fire Department captain who made an unofficial tour of the theater days before the official opening noted that there were no extinguishers, sprinklers, alarms, telephones, or water connections; the only firefighting equipment available were six canisters of a dry chemical called "Kilfyre", which was normally used to douse residential chimney fires. There were also structural deficiencies. Large iron gates blocked off the stairways during performances to prevent patrons from moving down from the gallery to the dress circle or orchestra. Many of the exit routes were confusing; patrons seated in the front of the gallery had to turn left, climb four stairs, turn right, climb down a number of stairs, then turn and descend another staircase simply in order to reach the dress circle level, then descend another stairway to reach the foyer. The gallery stairways also converged on one point, making it more likely that the exits would become bottlenecks. Within the theater, curtains covered the main fire exits located on the north side of each level. The exits themselves were secured with bascule locks, a form of lock in which bolts run vertically out of the top and bottom of the door and which were almost unheard of outside of Europe at the time. The fire escapes that led from the north exits each served three doors and were too narrow to carry the number that could exit if all doors opened. Moreover, the last rungs of the emergency stairs were frozen in place and could not be moved. Many doors opened inwards, including the main stage door. The roof ventilation system was either nailed down or wired down, but in any event was not functional. At about 3:15 P.M., late in the second act, a dance number was in progress when an arc light shorted and ignited a muslin curtain. A stage hand attempted to douse the fire with the Kilfyre canisters provided but it quickly spread to the fly gallery high above the stage where thousands of square feet of highly flammable painted canvas scenery flats were hung. While the actors were fleeing through the back door, it was reported when they open the door a back draft was created. As the cold winter air rushed into the building, the fire created a bellows like effect that shot tongues of fire out across the audience. It took the Chicago Fire Department 13 minutes to get the initial call of the fire because of the lack of pull boxes in the area, and it took them only 2 minutes to arrived on scene after receiving the call. By that time when they arrived on scene, it was to an eerily quiet blaze with 572 people already dead before their arrival.

After the fire, it was alleged that fire inspectors had been bribed with free tickets to overlook code violations. The mayor ordered all theaters in Chicago closed for six weeks after the fire. The Iroquois fire prompted widespread implementation of the panic bar. A second result of the fire was that it was required that a fireproof asbestos curtain (or sheet metal screen) be raised before each performance and lowered afterward to separate the audience from the stage. The third result was that fire codes limited the maximum number of seats between aisles to six or eight for faster evacuation. The fourth result was that all doors in public buildings must open "outward" to prevent more death, but that practice didn't became a national effect until the Collinwood School Fire of 1908 were 172 children and 2 teachers had died in this fire.

Some great links to this fire I found :


  1. I believe Beverly Hills Supper Club still claims the top spot.

  2. C. it was in inglorious bastards