Accidents and Catastrophes: the Stouffer Inn Fire and the Hilton Hotel Fire of 1982 – Case Study Example

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing

The paper "Accidents and Catastrophes: the Stouffer Inn Fire and the Hilton Hotel Fire of 1982" is a wonderful example of a case study on engineering and construction. The Stouffer Inn Fire The fire that broke out in the Stouffer’ s Inn in December 1980 was brought about by electrical causes. Though the fire authorities did not specify how this came about, they pointed to the rapid spread and melting of the partitions in the walls as indications that the origin of the fire was electrical. The fire supposedly raced with incredible speed through rooms in which business people were holding meetings (Gottschalk, 2002).

The then chief executive of General Foods Franz Aichenaurer, who was there for a conference, compared it to a bomb explosion. There were no sprinklers in the area in which the fire spread. The Inn was bustling with activity when the fire broke out at 10.20 am. It began in a second-floor convention room where administrators of the Arrow Electronics company of Greenwich, Connecticut were to hold a budget summit. Thomas Goodrum, a General Foods member of staff reported hearing noises in the hallway that prompted him and his co-workers to try to find out what was happening.

When workers of other companies detected smoke pouring over the doors of their conference rooms, they thrust tables through the windows. They had to jump over 30 feet to a rocky slope below to escape death. They understood that they would be incinerated if they opened the door. The fire claimed a large number of victims, making it the worst fire disaster in over two decades (Bjornlund, 2002). The president of the Arrow electronics company was counted among the dead company executives later in the day.

In total, 26 people were killed and at least 40 suffered various degrees of burns. Authorities asserted that a lack of fire sprinklers and the combustible carpeting and interior designs in the three-story symposium edifice allowed the blaze to expand hastily. Firefighters also commented that the loss of life could have been prevented if what now seems as basic fire prevention methods were utilized in the Inn at the time (Brannigan & Corbett, 2009). The Stouffer Inn fire forced changes to be adopted by public buildings.

These alterations have saved many lives in the 29 years since it happened. The Hilton Hotel Fire of 1982 The Westchase Hilton hotel was constructed before the requirements for fire protection features were made a necessity by municipal law. The only gadget the 13-story hotel possessed was a fire detection system that would alert the front desk in case of any emergency. At 2 am on March 6, 1982, the buzzer sounded the alarm. The desk clerk manually turned it off, suspecting that it was malfunctioning.

When it sounded again a few moments later, he stopped it once more. The fire blazed through a room on the fourth floor, quickly filling the rooms on other rooms with smoke (Eversole, 2003). A guest at the hotel informed the clerk of smoke in his room. However, the clerk did not inform the city firefighters about this turn of events until 2.30 am. By that time, 10 people were dead, and five were seriously injured. Investigators would later establish that a fallen cigarette caused the ignition of one of the upholstered chairs in a room on the fourth floor.

Once it engulfed that room in flames, the fire was able to extend horizontally to two adjoining rooms due to the building’ s configuration (Carter & Rausch, 2007). Smoke soon spread throughout the fire floor and to all levels of the building. All fatalities were occupants of the fire floor. Of the five who were critically injured, two would later succumb to their injuries.

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
Contact Us