Ron and Timoney, Tom. Boarding House Fire Causes Fifteen Deaths. Fire Journal.
January 1985. pp. 44-54.
Abstract: This article reports a tragedy that occurred in Beverly,
Massachusetts. A boarding house was intentionally set on fire and fifteen lives
were taken as a result. The article provides full details of the structure
including the dimensions and floor plans and where the smoke detectors were
located. Investigators concluded that lives may have been saved if the proper
building codes were in place.
Investigators found no traces of accelerant. They determined the fire was set in
the entrance alcove of the building. The fire spread via the combustible
materials contained in the walls. The smoke detectors worked properly, however
they were ineffective. The fire began outside the building entrance and by the
time it reached the hallways and set off the smoke detectors, the fire was in
full blast, giving tenants a short amount of time to respond to the alarm.
The building was constructed in 1900 and was not subject to new building code
requirements. Its stairways were not enclosed allowing the fire to spread
rapidly. The smoke alarm system did not notify the fire department that it
sounded. The fire department was notified twenty minutes after the alarm
activated. The combustibility of the materials the building was constructed of
did not comply with the newer standards of building construction. There was
also no sprinkler system installed in this building. In this instance, a
sprinkler system would have saved lives, however, the building codes did not
require this structure to have one. The unenclosed stairway, the combustibility
of materials, the delayed fire department response, and the lack of a sprinkler
system were the main factors that contributed to the loss of life caused by
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