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View Diary: Regulation is born from fire (82 comments)

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  •  At one point in time, (12+ / 0-)

    the Catholic diocese could buy Chicago: City Hall, the media, and the courts.

    This diary brings Our Lady of Angels roaring back to me, a memory buried deep in my childhood, a wretched December day when 90 children died in a firetrap — and with the complicity of the powers that be, the diocese evaded responsibility (sound familiar?) Those of us in public schools remember the installation of sprinklers, the banning of decorations in the halls, no more Christmas trees (probably a good thing considering it was pre getting Christianity the hell out of public schools and my school was 90 percent Jewish).

    City council passed an ordinance requiring enhanced fire safety including sprinklers in schools. But it exempted parochial schools so that the diocese wouldn't take a financial hit.

    Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

    by anastasia p on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 07:43:09 PM PST

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    •  That point in time has not passed (8+ / 0-)

      ... as all the priests not in jail for child abuse can testify -- or is it confess?

    •  I read an excellent book on that fire (9+ / 0-)

      To Sleep with the Angels. In some cases, the kids who survived were the ones who disobeyed the teachers and climbed out the windows on their own.  The good kids sat at their desks as the nuns instructed them, as the fire drills had taught them, and died there.

    •  It's complicated. (9+ / 0-)

      Illinois law at that time only required schools to meet the code in effect at the time they were built.  The northern portion of the school where the fire broke out only needed to conform to the code of 1905, I think it was.  A later addition linking the north wing to a south was built around 1950 and had to conform to the code of 1949.  The features required by that code helped prevent the fire from spreading into the south wing.

      The reason for the school not having to conform to later codes was rooted in the argument that to do so would constitute an illegal ex post facto law under the constitution.  The argument went that someone who built a structure in good faith according to the current code could not be obligated to remodel the building to meet a later code, just like the government can't arrest someone for something that was not illegal at the time they did it.  That argument had been gradually breaking down over the years -- the Iroquois Theater fire of 1903 that killed over 600 brought that argument to an end for theaters.  A series of hotel fires in 1946 did it for public accommodations.  Schools, both public and private, were one of the last to reject the concept, probably because of the local control issue with public schools and the private ownership with parochial.  It was the OLA fire that effectively quashed that argument.

      The OLA fire was an enormous tragedy, but a tremendous amount of good did come out of it.  in the first year after the fire, two-thirds of the schools in the country upgraded fire safety, and the fire was studied world-wide to cull as many lessons as possible from it.  

      In the years since OLA, no school fire in the US has claimed more than 10 lives.  The annual average is about one death per year.

      I did a diary on it here:

      We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

      by dsteffen on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 08:49:19 PM PST

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      •  dsteffen, I hawked your series twice today (13+ / 0-)

        I love your "How Regulation Came To Be" diaries, and I am constantly linking to them from other sites when the topic of regulations comes up.

        As we talk here about schools, I'm reminded of the horrible tragedies of the recent Chinese earthquake, where shoddily built schools collapsed and literally crushed an entire generation within some towns.

        People in California sometimes whine about all the seismic standards schools are required to meet and how expensive it is. I point them at pictures of those schools in China.

        In California, we were lucky:

        The earthquake hit at 5 pm, when the schools that collapsed were not in session.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 09:54:35 PM PST

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        •  The Chinese Quake was a bit more complicated (6+ / 0-)

          As the New Zealand quake also demonstrates. I'd like to elaborate a bit because it is consistent with the theme of this diary.

          In the Chinese, we can say there were the following types of buildings destroyed:

          :: Old, unreinforced brick buildings, mainly farmhouses

          :: Newer, poorly build brick buildings mainly multistory famhouses and village town houses typically build by workers from ad hoc plans with inadequate reinforcement and poor quality concrete framing

          :: Older mid-rise buildings that sustained heavy damage or collapsed depening on location and contruction.

          :: New, properly engineered and built strutures that were up to code but sited in bad locations or designed in such a way that they were unable to survive due to unique and previously unconsidered problems.

          The first two are common problems in poor and developing countries and large areas affected by this quake are exactly that. The systematic problem is too many people making do and not enough resources such as structural engineers inspectors and qualified builders, and inadequate supervision or neglect of laws by the people building (owners and workers).

          The second is a problem everywhere except those places where there is systematic review and inspection of old buildings, and even in affluant countries it is usually a matter of hindsight - upgrading old buildings in Los Angeles only came after so many were damaged in the 1970/whatever quake.

          The third is a matter of knowledge and practice. Example:

          One of the major buildings that collapsed was a multistory school. There was much speculation that it was improperly bult, but review of plans and inspections of the remains suggested ortherwise.  However, a Japanese expert who was one of the international consultants recognized the problem from experience with similar school building colapses in Japan which has the world's strictist building codes. The problem is schools are often bulit in open areas where the surrounding land has weak soil that liquifies during a sever quake and regardless how strong the building structure itself is, the local trust will tear it from the foundation. The solution is to cluster buildings together or build a perimeter fundation surrounding the building to diffuse the force.

          Needless to say there were many lessons learned and much attention brought to bear, including a decision to not rebuild in some areas and to move entire villages to other sites. Building codes are being revised and procedures reinforced, but as I said this is another case of hindsight.

          It's difficult to understand how powerful and devistating this quake was unless you see some of the areas where town were leveled and, literally, the geography of some mountians and rivers changed.

          And that brings us full circle; regulations exist for a reason and we must remember that of history repeats. And where we lack regulations we should ask if we need them, not assume they are unnessary simply beause they don't exist.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 06:15:18 AM PST

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      •  PS: you were asking about how to put a caption (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dsteffen, Land of Enchantment

        on an image. A bunch of style tips are here:

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 10:01:49 PM PST

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        •  Thanks, elfling. (0+ / 0-)

          I've hotlisted the diary and will play around with it when I have some time.

          Also, thanks for hawking my diaries.  I do appreciate it.

          We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

          by dsteffen on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 10:54:29 AM PST

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