In January of 1912, a fire spread through the dumbwaiter elevator system of
the Equitable Building on Pine Street. Eight companies fought the fire for a
half an hour before Chief John Kenlon ordered everyone out of the building.
Additional companies arrived from Brooklyn, and while firefighters attempted
to rescue people stranded on the roof, the building collapsed, dooming the
victims on the roof as well as two firemen. Meanwhile, it took an hour and a
half and fifteen saw blades to cut through the steel bars that sealed three
men in the building's basement. By the time they were released, one of the
men had submitted to the smoke.

This information was extracted from :
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As we all know, change takes time. Less than a year after the Triangle fire,
another major blaze struck New York, taking the lives of six men. The
Equitable Building was a giant 10-story structure composed of five
individual buildings linked together, which covered the better part of a
city block in the financial district. Sad to say, the fire began in a
wastebasket and spread throughout the building. It seems that the employee
who found it was frightened, and chose to run away.

The building was literally riddled with dumbwaiter shafts, elevators and
multiple unstopped entrances and passages. As the fire grew in intensity, it
made its way upward through these shafts. Fire personnel quickly moved lines
down into the basement and pressed home an aggressive attack, not aware of
the fire burning above their heads. Soon after discovering the fire above
them, a second alarm was transmitted. As the fire escalated, the number of
alarms increased.

The weather could not have been worse, with heavy gale winds blowing
freezing, wind-driven spray back onto the firefighters, who were pouring
tons of water onto the blaze. Firefighters attempting to rescue the
building's occupants on the roof just missed being killed when the roof the
men were standing on collapsed, hurling them to their deaths. The debris
from this collapse also trapped three men in the basement. Unbeknownst to
the fire department, these men had made their way into the basement of the
building to rescue millions of dollars in negotiable bonds which, if they
had burned, would have created financial chaos for their owners. Only
through the heroism of Seneca Larke Jr., a full-blooded Native American,
were these men saved. While laying on his belly over the grate where the men
were trapped, under torrents of freezing water and falling rubble, he worked
with a hacksaw to cut them free.

The toll from this disaster included the three civilian workers, one of the
basement occupants and two fire department members. One of the major lessons
learned from this fire was that the latest method of fireproofing structural
members had been proven useless. The lessons from the earlier Parker
Building fire had been ignored. In that era, engineers and architects had
specified cast iron as the supporting members for a number of large
buildings. To protect them from the weakening effects of fire, they had been
encased in hollow tie blocks. These just did not work. In the wake of these
fires, improved fireproofing of structural members was developed.

The above information is an extract from:

Transcriber: Miriam Medina