Million Dollar Sight and Sound

The vertical spread of the fire (with temperatures in the $1,000-1500 range) to the stage area resulted in tensile strength of the steel to weaken which caused the roof to fall on the lobby fire wall. The horizontal spread of the fire towards the hallways made steel pieces fall into the prop assembly (Poole & Stambaugh, 1997)

On receiving the emergency call at 9:19 AM, the Strasburg fire department dispatched their team by 9:21 AM. However due to several instances of false alarms in the past, the dispatch center had informed their units that the warning had not been issued by an alarm system. There were not a lot of windows to see the fire from, so the employees in the theater guided the firemen on where to position their engine. On receiving the signal that all the workers had been removed from the building, the firefighters started their hoses. Strasburg Chief Wentz connected a 5-inch hose to a nearby pond located beside a nursery. The master streams working on the fire have around 5400 gallons of water flowing per minute. They were not working to their potential initially since it took a while to identify the best way to direct its flow. The roofs of the auditorium had to be broken down. The fire control authorities managed to stop the fire after three and a half hours of fighting it, at 1:02 PM (Poole & Stambaugh, 1997).

This incident brought forth quite a few conclusions and recommendations. Pre-construction meetings need to be held for the executives responsible for the property management so fire service professionals can convey their expertise about fire safety design techniques and protective measures. Local governments and fire departments should make sure that fire protection facilities installed in buildings like the Slight and Sound Theater, are robust enough to deal with a fire of this kind. They should conduct checks on fire safety code compliance. Any waivers should be applied only when sufficient fire protection coverage exist. Leniency in this regard can prove dangerous for the citizens. Arrangements should be made for specially constructed command vehicles to be made available whenever needed. Safety regulation code related to public assemblies cannot be merged with those which have a large number of children or senior citizens. Public buildings constructed using steel should be deemed as dangerous in case of fire and can break down within a few minutes. A fire breaking out in a structural steel construction implies more danger for firefighters compared to others. The regular method of using water on visible flames rather than smoke is invalid for structural steel buildings. An accountability officer should be assigned to manage the personnel accountability system set up for such situations (Poole & Stambaugh, 1997)


Poole, S & Stambaugh,.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *