Oakland, CA Fire Commentary

Below is an Outstanding Commentary on the Devastating Fire in Oakland Early this morning. The Source of this is from the Facebook page “The A Battalion”


“Fires in public places with large death tolls are not a new or recent phenomena. We are all familiar with the names, Triangle Shirtwaist, Our Lady of Angels, Coconut Grove, The Beverly Hills Supper Club, The MGM, The Hilton, Happy Land, and The Station.

Those are the ones we know the most. But there are many more. The Rhythm Night Club, The Hartford Circus, The Iroquois Theater, The Brooklyn Theater, The Haunted Castle at Six Flags and many more.

And now a new name is added to the list, The Oakland Ghost Ship.

It is sad to hear of the dead and injured and that those numbers will likely change for the worse.

I’m saddened for their families and friends. And for the firefighters, EMS personnel and Police who had do deal with this situation. It will likely change their lives forever.

It’s too early to comment on what happened, because obviously I was not there and the investigation is only in the beginning stages.

But we’ve seen this before. Overcrowded, overloaded and under protected. There are posts online from people who said the place was a disaster waiting to happen. That they wouldn’t return because they knew getting out would be a problem if something bad were to happen.

Looking at the images from this place it looks like it might have been a cool place with a cool vibe, a place for artists to gather, share in their various arts. But it was clearly a disaster, a tragedy waiting to happen.

And it did.

And it continues to unfold.

It’s in our nature to believe that it can’t happen to me, or that thing like this only happen in big cities or other places.

It’s simply not the truth. This can happen anywhere. Look at the before images from the linked posts. How many times have you been in an antiques store in an old building, or a reclaimed building components store. Or even a place like this.

They are everywhere and in every town. You probably just don’t know it yet. Or maybe you know exactly where it’s at.

We think of the places like this, but we know, it doesn’t have to be a place like this. We just need to look back at the Beverly Hills Supper Club or the MGM to understand.

Respectable establishments that were at the cutting edge in their day. Then fire struck, and lives were lost.

More recently, there were fires at the Monte Carlo and Cosmopolitan hotels. While lives were not lost fires spread rapidly and became significant.

We see a trend of high rise fires around the world where fire is starting on the outsides and growing to the point where protections systems cannot keep up.

Fire doesn’t go away. It evolves and creates new hazards.

Actually, the fire does none of that.

We do it. (people)

We create these places where fire can spread rapidly and we can’t get out quickly. Then we don’t protect them properly, or at all.

Sometimes we are lax on codes enforcement, or look the other way. Sometimes the codes aren’t there at all.

Some people fight the codes and their requirements as too costly or wasteful.

I recently responded to a kitchen fire in an apartment building that was extinguished by a sprinkler system. A system that was required by code. It worked. It did what it was intended to do.

Ironically, that building was owned by a congress person who is an outspoken critic of residential sprinkler system requirements.

I chuckled a little as I explained to him that his building was saved by those dastardly, destructive and expensive sprinklers.

The tragedy in Oakland is just that. But it wasn’t an accident. It was predictable.

So many times we (people) see places where we know something will happen someday. But what do we do? Not much.

Collectively, we should be doing something. We should be reporting these locations to codes officials. We shouldn’t be going to these places to hang out or do our business. We shouldn’t be allowing our loved ones or friends or strangers to go to them either.

We should be calling for stronger codes and more effective enforcement. We should be supporting legislation that aids in the curtailment of such operations. And we shouldn’t continue to put people in office who support or are bought by industries protecting their bottom line.

But that won’t happen. Because by and large people are lazy when it comes to safety and prevention.

We are culturally infected with the it won’t happen here virus. The that only happen to ‘others’ virus. The those people are exaggerating virus. The it costs too much money virus.

It’s a shame but it’s the sad reality.

Until we collectively decide to compromise on behalf of prevention and safety, places like this will exist. Tragedies like this will occur. And lives like those effected here will continue to be snuffed out and the survivors and responders left forever changed.

I am not optimistic about the future as far as these types of incidents are concerned. But I’m hopeful that people will start to make changes, not put themselves in these situations and speak up when they see things that are dangerous and need to be corrected. That someday property owners and builders will make choices that are not just based solely on the bottom line.

As firemen we have an obligation to act on behalf of the citizens we’re sworn to protect. We have to take the lead in trying to prevent these types of tragedies whether they be in large occupancies or people’s homes. Detection devices and sprinklers save lives.

Be vigilant brothers and sisters, these places are out there. They are waiting.

My thoughts are with those who lost their lives in this tragic fire and with those who must deal with it’s horrendous aftermath.

Be smart, be good to each other and DO YOUR JOB.”
Capt. BB



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s