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100th Anniversary Of Deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Approaches

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – As the 100th anniversary of the devastating Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire approaches, Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano says many of the lessons from that dark day on March 25, 1911 still apply today.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports on the anniversary of the deadly fire

The fire in Greenwich Village caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, most of whom were immigrant women.

“The poor people that were killed in that fire will never be forgotten. I know it’s certainly in the FDNY because what was born out of that fire was the labor law and the bureau fire prevention and our first fire prevention codes,” Cassano said.

The fire led to better working conditions in factories throughout the city and the development of fire codes.

A flimsy fire escape collapsed in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, forcing 62 to jump from the upper floors after being trapped behind locked doors.

These days, the fire department faces another challenge: illegally subdivided homes. Cassano said enforcing fire codes is a constant struggle. The department is also pushing for sprinklers in all new buildings so that another fire like the one a century ago won’t happen again.

“The story of that fire is the victims for sure,” Cassano said. “The working conditions, 12 hours a day, making a few dollars a week, working in conditions, they would lock the door so you wouldn’t be able to get out with any materials.”

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