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The Tragedy of the Notre Dame Fire

If there's one tragedy that has occurred in our recent history that captured the attention of the whole world, it would be the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was on April 15, 2019, that an unfortunate chain of events contributed to this architectural catastrophe. As the world watched this amazing structure go up in flames, our collective hearts broke. Thankfully, no deaths occurred from this fire, but the loss was monumental. As we look at this fire, we can learn some lessons from the events that contributed to it.

It was on the evening of April 15, around 6:20 pm, that the fire began at the Notre Dame Cathedral. This fire started at the spire of the great building. The damage from this fire consisted of almost the entire roof as well as causing severe damage to the upper walls. When the fire first started in the attic space underneath the cathedral roof, an alarm went off. As per protocol, a guard went to investigate the reason for the alarm. Unfortunately, the guard didn't inspect the correct area, didn't see anything for concern, and the fire blazing in another part of the building was unnoticed and unreported.

About 15 minutes later, the mistake was realized and by that time, it was no longer a minor fire but one that was burning out of control.

Once the fire was actually realized, the cathedral wasn't equipped for the fire alarm to automatically notify the fire department; a person was required to make an actual call. Well, by the time all of these events took place, it was 6:51 pm, which means the fire had been burning for 30 minutes. Ten minutes later, the firefighters arrived to the cathedral, making the total time the fire had been burning 40 minutes. When fire burns that long untreated, the results are catastrophic, as we all witnessed.

Greg Harrington, writer for the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) points in his blog post that 3 major factors contributed to the tragedy. First, there was no automatic system in place for the fire department to be notified when the alarm went off. Because it was dependent on a person to inform the fire department, the fire burned longer than it might have before it was addressed.

The second factor has to do with human error: the person who was searching for the cause of the fire inspected the wrong area, leaving the fire undetected. The fire increased in strength and severity as a result of this delay.

The third factor was that more time was lost due to the fact that the guard who found the fire needed to walk to a different location of the building to call the fire department.

If there's any lesson we should extract from this horrible tragedy, it's that, when we are talking about fire safety, the response system cannot solely be left in the hands of people. There is just too much room for human error; there MUST me automatic mechanisms in place. Even though people are trained and have the best intentions, people aren't perfect. In the case of the Notre Dame fire, the innocent mistakes that happened had devastating consequences.

There needs to be automatic equipment installed, such as fire alarms, automatic sprinklers, and notification systems that go directly to the fire department. While this doesn't take away the need for staff members to be trained, it fills in the gaps when there's human error.

This devastating occurrence at this world-famous architectural wonder must convince us that there needs to be layers of fire prevention, protection, and reaction in place. Thankfully, there was no loss of life, but the historic loss is just tragic.

Flameproofing is one of these measures that can and must be taken. When flammable materials and other decorative objects are treated with fire retardants, the spread and severity of the fire are greatly reduced. Not only does this preserve property, but it can save lives by creating more evacuation time.

If your business has flameproofing needs, please call Manhattan Flameproofing today. We would love to talk over your flameproofing needs and help you set up a full fire prevention strategy. Give us a call and we will also offer you a free, no-obligation quote: 1-800-268-7993 




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