The fire alarm sounds and everyone is rushing out the doors. The air smells of smoke. You know where to go because of the fire safety procedures. There are fire exits at every end of the building. You get out safely, think, “Oh, thank goodness I made it. ” What do you think would’ve happened had there not been extra fire precautions? What if all the doors had been locked? That’s how things used to be. Doors would be locked so workers couldn’t steal items.
The fire exits on the outside of buildings were flimsy, and didn’t hold much weight. It would’ve been a nightmare if there had been a fire in a building like that, and there was.
On March 25, 1911 at approximately 4:45, 500 workers were getting ready to go home (Rosa 1). That didn’t happen. No one knows how the fire started, but it doesn’t really matter, what matters is that it happened. There was a fire and no way to escape the hellish flames.
The outcome was that the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire increased safety regulations in buildings, which increased conditions of the work place and helped implement labor laws for workers. This fire, and the loss of 146 lives, indirectly led to the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (AOL 2).
The fire also exposed how hazardous the conditions were and the fire danger of high-rise factories back in the day. Shortly after the fire, New York City passed a large number of fire, safety, and building codes and created stiff penalties for non-compliance. Other cities followed in the example of New York (Rosenberg 2). Some of these restrictions were that all doors must now open outwards, no doors are to be locked during working-hours, a sprinkler system must be installed if a company employs more than 25 people above the ground floor, and fire drills are mandatory for buildings that lack a sprinkler system (Rosa 2).
Despite these regulations there are still people who try to skip over the rules. On September 3, 1991, 25 workers died from burns or suffocation. Another 54 were injured when a 25-foot-long deep-fat fryer burst into flames at the Imperial Foods Product Chicken-processing plant in North Carolina. As with the Triangle Fire, the doors were locked to keep workers from stealing chickens (AOL 4). Since 1911 and even as recent as 1991, we’ve had many improvements.
Today, we have more tools to pursue violators who deny workers their pay, including issuing subpoenas and preventing companies from shipping goods produced in violation of the law (Solis 4). However, even knowing how many lives it’s saved, the House of Representatives has passed a budget bill that would cut nearly one-hundred million dollars – about 20% – from OSHA’s current budget. About 40% of those cuts will be to the agency’s enforcement and safety inspectors- those on the front line of protecting the right of a worker and their safety (AOL 3). “Lives will be lost because of those proposed cuts.
They’re devastating,” says Joel Shufro (AOL 3). “Crippling budget cuts like these can only come from lawmakers who are willing to throw hardworking Americans under the bus once they’ve extracted a vote,” Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist told AOL News. Sass knows the effects of bad working conditions personally. Her grandmother may have been spared from fire, but she was not spared from the factory conditions that destroyed her lungs, her sight, her hearing, and her back (AOL 4). It was for reasons like those, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Francis Perkins as U. S. ecretary of Labor, whom never forgot the fire and the trapped workers, and she did much during her twelve years on the job, including creating what would become the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (AOL 3). Unfortunately this didn’t occur until after the fire. The triangle Waist Company owners had a chance to increase conditions. In 1909 Shirtwaist factory workers from around the city went on strike for an increase in pay, shorter work week, and the recognition of a union, and even though many of the other Shirtwaist companies eventually agreed to the strikers’ demands, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company owners never did (AOL 1).
Soon after the tragedy, the international Ladies’ Garment workers union led a parade of more that 100,000 mourners through the streets of lower Manhattan, and politicians realized that they’d better pay attention to what just happened in their town (AOL 2). The New York Legislature, appalled by what had happened to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, created a commission headed by Senator Robert F. Wagoner, Alfred E. Smith and Samuel Gompers to investigate conditions in the city’s sweatshops.
This resulted in the present labor laws protecting factory workers in health, disability and fire prevention (Rosa 2). There were 36 statutes to regulate workplace fire safety and ventilation, and a set minimum standard for working women and children (Cooper 2). The cause for that was because the victims of the inferno were almost all new immigrants, mostly women and girls, Italians, Russians, Hungarians, and Germans. Few of them spoke English. The youngest victim was only eleven years old (AOL 1and 2). Those some 500 victims worked in the Asch building.
They worked long hours, six days a week, in cramped quarters and were paid very low wages. Most of these girls were in the age range of 13-14 (Rosenberg 1). Francis Perkins also the formulation and implementation of the social security act, one of the most important pieces of social legislation in our history. Among other extraordinary accomplishments, she helped create unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, and legislation that would guarantee the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively (Solis 2).
There was a reporter whose grandmother had been around back in 1911 “My grandmother always told me she was a dressmaker, but in fact she was an unskilled piece worker on an assembly line in a loud, dusty and very dangerous factory. ” Sass recalled (AOL 4). It had been for people like sass’s grandmother that those laws, conditions, and regulations were put into place. Unfortunately those people had to endure for the better good of a country. Because of those children in the fire, children now can live in a better community. It might have been a tragic ordeal, but America has come a long way since then.
Cite this Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. (2016, Dec 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/triangle-shirtwaist-factory-fire/