Chelsea fire evaluation Essay

Submitted By spauley68
Words: 990
Pages: 4

The conflagration, known as the great Chelsea fire, was on October 14, 1973. This fire destroyed 18 city blocks in Chelsea, Massachusetts. There were many contributing factors which caused this fire such as the building construction, weather conditions, and lack of code enforcement. Building construction was one of the many things that played a role in the advancement of the conflagration. Chelsea was mainly made up of rag shops, and most buildings were of substandard wood-frame construction. The buildings were also built extremely close together. Along with being substandard construction and being close together, the buildings were decaying and not maintained due to many vacancies. With all of these qualities, the building construction did play a part in the advancement of the fire. The fire was able to quickly grow with the heavy fire load in the buildings, and due to the close proximity of the buildings the fire was able to quickly jump from one building to the next. The many vacancies in the buildings meant that the fire had more time to grow before anyone noticed it. By the time someone had noticed the fire it was growing and moving quickly. There were also many sheds which were made of wood; these sheds were used to store materials that were often combustible. Another thing that played a role in the advancement of the conflagration were the weather conditions. On October 14, 1973, the weather conditions could not have been any more perfect for a conflagration. On this day it was warm, dry, and windy; days like these are considered extremely hazardous. It had not rained for almost a month which meant that everything was dry, such as the grass, and the buildings that were made of wood. When everything is dry there is an increased risk of a fire to start and increases the risk of fire spread. The wind was a fairly strong wind which pushed the flames, smoke, and heat towards other buildings. Not only would the flying embers from the fire cause spot fires, but the radiant heat from the fire caused the opposing buildings to reach ignition temperature. The wind also hampered firefighting efforts by flowing against the water streams not allowing the water to reach the fire. The smoke and heat of the fire were so intense it caused a firestorm which was accompanied by 100 mph winds drawn into the fire, which intensified the fires destruction and size. The water supply was another factor which played and role in the advancement of the fire. In the section of Chelsea where the fire occurred there was an inadequate water supply available for firefighter use. This made it difficult to contain the fire. In Chelsea, many building codes and fire codes were not enforced which played a role in the spread of the fire. The building and fire codes that were neglected in Chelsea are the largest roles of the advancement of the fire. As stated before, the close proximity of the houses, which is one of the codes not in place, contributed to the fire spread. The fire was able to jump from one building to the next since they were so close together. Another code that was neglected was the storage of the combustible materials. This storage of combustible materials created an extremely high fire load. These materials were stored in stacks several feet high and all over the floor of the buildings, as well as outside around the buildings. With this high fire load enveloped with flame it was able to emit more BTUs, causing more material to ignite by radiation, and enabling fire spread. Even with all of these things that played a role in the advancement of the fire, the fire could have been avoided. The fire could have been avoided a few different ways. First, the fire could have been avoided if the codes were actually enforced.