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The Tragedy of the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire

One of the most incredible things about America is that is an amazing place for artists to grow. America is known for its creativity and individuality, which clearly caters to an artistic spirit. There are many places in our country where artist communities thrive, and artists are known for being each other's strongest cheerleaders. It's nothing new for artist colonies to spring up, and New York City has always been a place where artists of all kinds can thrive. However, when these communities spontaneously come together, it often happens in places that are somewhat 'unofficial' and go under the radar as far as legal and building requirements. This isn't just a threat to those who live there but to everyone in the surrounding neighborhoods.  And that is exactly what happened in the Ghost Ship Tragedy in California.

An artist collective similar to what was described came to life in Oakland, California.  The place was known as the Ghost Ship Artist Collective, and there were many artists who lived there. On December 2, 2016, a fire broke out at 11:20 pm, thought to be a result of an electric problem, as the building was not compliant with existing codes and somewhat 'jerry-rigged', as per an LA Times article.

The fire started during a rave concert that was happening that evening. What started out as a gathering of artists turned tragic. The fire raged out of control, and 36 people lost their lives, many found embracing one another for those last moments of their time on earth. Tragically, those individuals had no chance due to the lack of automatic fire extinguishers, fire alarms, functioning fire extinguishers, in addition to a lack of adequate fire exits and clear paths to the ones that were available.

Fingers can be pointed in many directions, but it is to be noted that the Ghost Ship had not been inspected in 30 years, and the owner refused to bring his building up to code. By all standards, the building should have closed to any kind of occupants or residents. Over the years, authorities had been notified about the Ghost Ship regarding issues with garbage, weeds, illegal conduct and use as a residential building.

The situation inside was just as hazardous as what was reported outside. Inside, unprofessional wiring and construction were throughout the building, as well as combustible materials, wood, furniture, and junk littered all about. When the fire did break out, paths to exits were blocked, and as a result, critical escape time was lost when individuals tried to escape.

This tragedy should serve as a cautionary tale to us. There are incredible dangers when fire codes and laws are violated, and it puts entire communities at risk.  It is of the utmost urgency that every single fire safety regulation is adhered to. These requirements are not arbitrary but specific for the highest level of protection for all public gathering places, providing the best opportunity for survival in the event of a fire.

Flameproofing is one such requirement. This means that artistic and decorative materials and objects that are flammable must be treated with fire retardants - objects such as wood, carpets, drapes, curtains, hangings, upholstery, etc. In the case of the Ghost Ship Fire, if flameproofing treatments had been up to code, the severity of the fire would have greatly been minimized, which would have provided life-saving escape time.

If your business has questions about NYC fire regulations or flameproofing, please call us today! Manhattan Flameproofing would happy to answer questions, address concerns, and assist you in designing a fire safety plan for your business! As an industry expert in Manhattan and beyond for over 5 decades, we are here to serve you! Call today! 1-800-268-7993


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