Triangle Factory Fire Essay

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The Fire That Sparked The Progressive Era and Reform The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in March 1911 tragically ended the lives of 146 workers way too soon. The majority of these workers were Jewish and Italian immigrant women (Hewitt, and Lawson 575), who were typically young, and worked under neglectful owners (Max Blanck and Isaac Harris) who failed to maintain safety regulations that could have easily prevented the intolerable death count. Amongst the tragedy, however; came important workplace safety laws and reforms that wouldn't have been possible without the horrific happenings of the Triangle Factory fire. To fully understand how this disaster was possible it is important to understand the historical background of the time period …show more content…

There's a high probability the extra three minutes would've allowed the workers to reach the roof before the blaze took their lives. This speculation points to the perplexing reasons as to why the owners didn't take the fire as seriously as they should've (Drehle 160). The fire in 1911 was not the owners' first, not long after they opened the factory in 1902, their was a fire one morning before the workers got there. And again a half a year later, another Triangle factory fire occurred at the very same time of day in an eerily similar fashion. The owners collected over thirty-two thousand dollars in damages from the insurance company, and oddly enough, both fires occurred at the end of the busy season which for business owners usually meant an excess of inventory (Drehle 161-62). This isn't to say that the tragedy in 1911 was arson as further investigation pointed to a cigarette butt sparking the blaze, however; what it does infer that the owners didn't prepare for a potentially disastrous fire by taking safety precautions, rather they bought ridiculously large insurance policies. The only reason it would make good business sense to buy insurance priced extraordinarily more than the value of the factory, is if they planned on ridding of their excess inventory by "accidental" fires at the end of busy seasons. Only then would their insurance policy be worth the extra premium costs (Drehle 163-64). Well, maybe the owners' exploitation of the insurance is wrong morally, but as long as they didn't start any fires during work hours no one could get hurt, right? Wrong, the significance in their actions lies within their attitude towards fire. They didn't want to take any precautions and have any sort of system to prevent a fire, because if they installed sprinklers or mandated company-wide fire drills the

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