Today in fire history: fire in high-rise building highlights firefighting challenges

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Oct 10, 2011

NYC_10-10-1996 Early in the morning of October 10, 1996, an electrical fire occurred at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.  Several fires broke out in five remote locations, filling many areas of the building with smoke.  The entire building was evacuated, traffic was stopped for several blocks around the building, and 12 firefighters and 5 civilians were injured.  Factors contributing to the loss of property in this incident included:

  • Inadequate circuit protection.  High circuit flows within the electrical system allowed for the cabling in five separate rooms to ignite
  • Unprotected vertical and horizontal penetrations, which allowed the smoke to spread beyond the electrical rooms into the occupied floor areas
  • Lack of sprinkler protection in the areas of the fires
  • Confusing building layout
  • Failure of the building fire alarm system to detect the fire and transmit the alarm

NFPA members can download the full investigation report, and all site visitors can read a summary in English or in Spanish.

-Ben Evarts