1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Nicole R. Ford
Southern New Hampshire University
One hundred and forty-five lives were lost on March 24th 1911 with one of the deadliest industrial disasters in U.S. history. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City caught fire taking the lives of 145 workers. The lack of proper fire prevention devices, and no fire safety education played a factor in a significant historical safety regulation reform. By learning from our mistakes in the past we as a nation have grown into who we are today the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is the paragon for workplace reform. The Triangle Shirtwaist building was reported to be fire proof. So what fueled the fire? Isaac Harris and Max Blanck owned …show more content…
By letting the businesses to focus on making profit instead of spending their money on their workers safety. This allowed the presence of horrible working conditions, overcrowding and the lack of fire safety instructions. The fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is what made the radical change for the government to create the FIC, the Factory Investigation Committee. Investigating the working conditions of industrial factories and to make necessary improvements for safety if needed is why the FIC was created (Pool 2012). The commission in its preliminary report stated, “ In the matter of industrial production, we are still under the sway of the old laissez-faire policy, and there is still very inadequate supervision of industries with a view to lessening dangers to the health and life of working class” (Preliminary Report, 1912). It is evident that the committees priority is to dramatically change the way the factories are operating to insure the safety of its workers its top …show more content…
Automatic sprinklers, properly working fire escapes, and fire proof receptacles were among the recommendations for the businesses to instill. The fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory could have been prevented and more lives could have been saved if there were fireproof receptacles in the factory and were properly emptied. The fire spread so quickly trapping many inside. An article from the New York Times states “what burned so quickly and disastrously for the victims were shirtwaists, hanging on lines above tiers of workers, sewing machines placed so closely together that there was hardly aisle room for the girls between them, and shirtwaist trimmings and cuttings which littered the floors above the eighth and ninth stories” (141 men, 1911). The trimmings that laid among the floor is what caused the fire to spread so rapidly. Had an automatic sprinkler system been in place the fire would have been put out allowing the victims to not panic and get out safely and lives would have been saved. Automatic sprinklers have been proven effective and the system pays for itself eventually with the reduction in fire insurance costs. By having fire escape doors and the windows labeled and built large enough for a large capacity to pass through without any obstructions. Linder stated the obstruction and the narrow fire escape were the primary cause
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On the evening of March 25, 1911, the work day was coming to an end, but four small fires broke out on the eighth floor of the “Fireproof” Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, and located in the top three floors of the Asch Building, on Greene Street and Washington Place in Manhattan (Timeline). Despite the ‘no smoking’ rules, workers and managers often did so in the factory: when one of them lit scraps of cloth, the heaps of garments caught fire - it spread rapidly through the building (1911). It started fires in the waste bins full of garnet scraps as well as the paper patterns on the ceiling. Workers fruitlessly used pails of water in an attempt to put it out (Drehle). The doors that would free the six-hundred workers were locked shut.
It was later discovered that the fire had probably started when a worker disposed a cigarette or match into a rag bin containing three hundred pounds of thin, oxygen-rich, cotton fabric. It was also estimated that there was a total of more than one ton of those cotton scraps in the upper three floors of the factory. “In that brief span, the fire did more killing than any other workplace disaster in New York City history up to that time, or for ninety years afterward.” It was considered “the worst industrial fire in American history.” The fire was one of the most important and biggest factors in the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment.
Could the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory have been prevented? I am not going to answer that question just yet. Without assessing all of the information to prevent the making of unfounded accusations. First things first you may be asking yourself what a Triangle Shirtwaist is. A triangle shirtwaist is a type of blouse that many women wore in the early 1900's.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Factory was partly burned or burned down twice in 1902. Another Factory they worked in was their Diamond Waist Company Factory which just like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Factory partly burned and almost burned down twice, in 1907 and 1910. There are suspicions that Blanck and Harris purposely torched their factory building before work hours opened so they could receive the large fire insurance policies they had purchased for every building. Although there is evidence that they weren’t the cause of the 1911 fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Factory. Both Blanck and Harris refused to install water sprinklers systems within the building and take other safety
On March 25,1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City was the deadliest business tragedy in the history of New York. Every morning 100,000 people would head off to work, some of the girls would be as young as ten years old. In Asch Building on the 10th floor was where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was located. The people had to work up to 14 hours a day with a salary of 2 dollars. Out of the 100,000people there were 500 blouse makers.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire begun on March 25,1911. The fire started because someone had dropped a cigarette and started the fire. The fire started on the 8th floor of the factory, it continued up to the 9th floor. The fire killed around 145 workers. Some people jumped and killed themselves rather than getting burned alive, one jumper survived the jump.
Yet, they still worked there even though they knew they could die easily. The sad thing was they were only paid a mere 15 dollars a week, even after working for 12 hours a day every day. Blanck and Harris also torched their workplaces to collect money from the insurance policy. While this wasn’t uncommon in the 20th century, Blanck and Harris refused to install sprinklers to extinguish the fire. The fire began with ashes from a bin with cloth inside of it.
On this day 105 years ago, 145 employees lost their lives (OSHA par 1). Because of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and the people harmed, new regulations and machinery have been incorporated to ensure the safety of all workers. When the fire broke out, men jumped up to help, reaching for the fire hose however it had been rusted through being useless as was the fire escape. Only one out of the four elevators worked causing a traffic jam leading many women to jump out the windows to their deaths (History Staff par 2). By the time the fire department arrived, many women had already burned to death and the factory was on its way to ashes.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was a deadly blaze that ended the lives of 146 garment workers in New York City in the year 1911. Many of those who perished were Jewish and Italian immigrant women, trying to make a living working at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Many died in a very violent fashion. As described by one observer, “Jumping from ten stories up! They are going through the air like bundles of clothes and the firemen can’t stop them and the policeman can’t stop them and nobody can help at all” (Klein, 2001, pg. 498).
One of the biggest workplace disasters in the American industrial history was The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in Manhattan, New York. On March 25 of 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory, which manufactured women blouses, erupted in flames, killing 146 people and injuring nearly 71. Most of the people killed and injured by the fire were women and children. This incident caused an outrage among labor workers against hazardous working environments in factories not just in New York but also in many industrial centers all over the states.
Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire The Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire that occurred in New York City on March 25, 1911, remains as one of the most important events in the history of United States due to the aftermath as well as being considered “the beginning of a modern safety movement.” This fire took the lives of 146 people, most of them being immigrant women, very few men, and young girls around the age of sixteen. The fire led to improvements, and a movement against unsafe working conditions in factories located in New York and in other factories throughout the United States.
In Out of Sight, Erik Loomis chooses to begin his work with the Triangle Shirtwaist factory and continues with the Rana Plaza Factory collapsing in Bangladesh. Both of these disasters caused several people to lose their lives, especially women, because of safety issues. In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory caught on fire in NYC and 146 female garment workers died, therefore; there were changes to the labor laws in the United States. The United States Department of Labor classified a set of standards as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “Factories rarely, if ever, receive even a minimal safety inspection.”
On March 25, 1911, one of the most tragic disasters in American Industry occurred. 146 women, men and children died in the triangle shirtwaist factory fire. People either died in the fire or jumped to their deaths to avoid being burned alive. This tragedy exposed the inhuman working conditions that workers faced while working in factories and the utter disregard of the factory owners. These deaths were completely preventable, these people died as a result of neglect.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was a devastating fire that killed 146 girls in New York City (Leap for Life, Leap for Death). At this time, citizens of New York were furious and demanded that the government do something to prevent future tragedies. The government responded and the reforms that the government made, it changed the future of New York industry. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, one of history’s deadliest fires, came as a result of outrageously unsafe working conditions, led to a high death toll and injury total, but, ultimately resulted in reforms that helped safeguard future factory workers.
The detrimental Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is considered to be one of the most tragic disasters in history. On March 25th, 1911, a fire broke out and killed 146 garment workers who were mostly women. These women worked countless hours with low wages and inhumane working conditions in a factory. Even though this event was tragic, the triangle shirtwaist fire helped to shape the new world for the better. The multitude of workers trapped within the inferno to their demise was the final straw for the mistreatment of America’s workers.