Problems and Reform at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory New York Factory Investigating Commission

REFORM: Must include enclosed staircases. FIRE ESCAPES

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REFORM: Must include enclosed staircases.

New York Law: New York law left the matter of fire escapes to the discretion of building inspectors.  The building inspector for the Asch building insisted that the fire escape proposed for the building "must lead down to something more substantial than a skylight."  (The architect's plans showed a rear fire escape leading to a skylight.) 

The Asch building architect promised "the fire escape will lead to the yard and an additional balcony will be put in."  In the final construction, however, the fire escape still ended at a second floor skylight.  During the fire, the fire escape collapsed under the weight of the fleeing workers.

REFORM: If a building’s height was over 100 feet, there had to be at least one exterior enclosed fire escape, accessible from all points in the building.
Stairways must be fireproof (concrete or brick) and all fire escapes must be iron or steel, and if enclosed, the walls must be fireproof.
(Commission found that 14 industrial buildings in NYC had no fire escapes at all.)
LAW: Buildings over 150 feet high must have metal trim, metal window frames, and stone or concrete floors.  Buildings under 150 feet high have no such requirements.
TRIANGLE: The ten-story Asch building was 135 feet high.  If it had one more floor, it would have required non-wood surfaces.

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