Chief O’Halloran was angry. So incredibly angry.
Why did the people who build skyscrapers never listen to the fire service?
Maybe then he and his men wouldn’t have had to spend hours risking their necks trying to save the lives of hundreds of people from the Glass Tower. People wouldn’t have died. Families wouldn’t have been torn apart. The tower wouldn’t be gutted. Businesses wouldn’t be devastated.
The chief told the tower’s architect Doug Roberts: “You know, one of these days, you're gonna kill 10,000 in one of these firetraps, and I'm gonna keep bringing out hurt people and eating smoke until somebody asks us how to build them. It’s the 1970s, for heaven’s sake!"
Roberts, shocked and appalled by what had happened, replied: “Okay. I'm asking."
The chief was dog tired and needed to get his men back to their fire house. "You know where to reach me,” he snapped.
Just a few hours ago it was party time, a celebration of the official opening of the 1,800 feet high tower. All the San Francisco bigwigs were there: the mayor; Senator Parker; the president of the company that owns the tower, Jim Duncan.
Someone had changed Roberts’s electrical wiring plans to save money, though, and when all those lights were switched on, that put too much of a load on the wiring, The fire started on the 81st floor, trapping hundreds of people above it.
O’Halloran shook his head. He’d seen little evidence of planning for such a devastating fire. Where were the sprinkler systems? How were people supposed to evacuate if the fire spread to the stairwells? What about all the businesses on the non-residential floors? All their records had either gone up in smoke or were drenched when the firefighters had to blow the water towers to put out the blaze.
“Thank goodness most of the residents hadn’t moved in yet,” the chief whispered to himself.
“In the future, all new homes are going to have to have sprinklers, clear fire exits, excellent wiring, and inflammable materials.”
“They will if I have anything to do with it.”
“It’s the least of our worries right now, after so many people were hurt, but our architect’s practice also had an office in the tower and all our drawings and documents are gone. All the hours of work we put in, all the bids for work we need to chase…and not having anywhere to work right now.
“The costs of this fire could mean the end for us in the long term.”
“What your business needs is a way to store documents centrally and safely away from any fire threat. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a worldwide network of storing information that you could access from anywhere?”
Roberts agreed: “Now that would be pretty useful. Getting those plans at the touch of a button would be even better! It would certainly save us. We’d be able to store diagrams, costings, staff contact details, and just move our practice into a different office.”
O’Halloran jumped onto his fire truck.
“Well, let’s hope for better safety and better business continuity in the future. Bet they even create an international standard for each of them!”
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