Don't Panic: The Psychology of Emergency Egress and Ingress

By Jerome M. Chertkoff; Russell H. Kushigian | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
Prescriptions for Success

How can the occurrence of egress and ingress disasters be avoided or at least minimized? Our analysis provides some answers to that question.

We have titled this chapter "Prescriptions for Success," because the prescription is different, depending on one's role in the situation. We have divided the roles into four categories: (1) owner/management; (2) government; (3) personnel; and (4) patrons.


OWNER/MANAGEMENT

After the Cocoanut Grove Fire, the National Fire Protection Association ( NFPA) prepared a report on the catastrophe. The report contained a section entitled How It Could Have Been Prevented." This one-page section identified the changes necessary to transform the building "from a death trap into a place of assembly reasonably safe for public occupancy" ( Moulton, 1943, p. 11). According to the report "no structural changes are involved and . . . nothing suggested would call for any large expenditure" ( Moulton, 1943, p. 11). Add some exit and exit path signs. Alter some doors to swing outward or with the exit flow, not swing inward or against the flow. Keep all exit doors unlocked. Construct a direct door from the Melody Lounge to the kitchen. Replace the revolving front door with doors that swing outward. Remove or replace all highly combustible decorations. Add several fire doors to the first floor. Remove a few obstructions, such as a partition at the exit of the New Cocktail Lounge. Widen one exit door. Enclose the stairs to the second floor. Install automatic sprinklers throughout the basement. (The heatsensitive automatic sprinkler is an old invention that was available before the beginning of the twentieth century.)

There would have been some cost involved in making these changes, not trivial, but not exorbitant either. Some "deadbeats" might have departed surreptitiously without paying, but a few strategically placed employees would have been able to

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