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SANFORD (FL) - THE SEMINOLE COUNTY JAIL FIRE

NCJ Number
61306
Journal
FIRE JOURNAL Volume: 70 Issue: 1 Dated: (JANUARY 1976)
Author(s)
R BEST
Date Published
1976
Length
7 pages
Annotation
THE JUNE 1975 FIRE AT THE SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA, JAIL, IN WHICH 10 INMATES AND 1 STAFF MEMBER DIED, IS DESCRIBED BY THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION SPECIALIST WHO INVESTIGATED THE FIRE.
Abstract
THE TWO-STORY JAIL BUILT IN 1961 WAS MADE OF CONCRETE BLOCK; IT LACKED SPRINKLERS, SMOKE OR FIRE DETECTORS, AND ALARM SYSTEMS. APPARENTLY SET BY A PRISONER, THE FIRE BEGAN IN A STORAGE ROOM CONTAINING CHEMICALLY TREATED URETHANE MATTRESSES WHICH WAS LOCATED NEXT TO TWO SEGREGATED CELLS. THE BURNING MATTRESSES CAUSED A RAPID BUILDUP OF INTENSE HEAT AND TOXIC SMOKE. PRISONERS WERE UNABLE TO ESCAPE FROM THEIR LOCKED CELLS. A NEARBY STANDPIPE HOSE, BREATHING APPARATUS UNITS, AND PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS WERE NOT USED. RESCUE ATTEMPTS WERE THWARTED BY MISPLACED JAIL KEYS AND BY BLOCKAGE OF AN EMERGENCY EVACUATION ROUTE. FURTHER INVESTIGATION SHOWED THAT SAFETY MEASURES PREVIOUSLY RECOMMENDED BY THE SEMINOLE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF FIRE PROTECTION HAD NOT BEEN ADOPTED BY THE COUNTY JAIL ADMINISTRATION. THE FIRE DEMONSTRATED THE NEED FOR PROPER DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE, AND OPERATION OF PRISONS IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE THE POSSIBILITY OF TRAGEDY. IN ADDITION, DETECTION, ALARM AND EXTINGUISHING SYSTEMS, AND PLANNING, TRAINING, AND DRILLING FOR FIRE ISOLATION AND INMATE EVACUATION ARE ALL NEEDED. A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE JAIL, A NARRATIVE OF THE FIRE, FOOTNOTES, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND FIGURES, ARE INCLUDED. (CFW)