Today in fire history: 15 perish in hotel fire

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Oct 18, 2011

On October 18, 1984, an incendiary fire was set on the third floor of a hotel in Paterson, New Jersey, resulting in the deaths of 15 people and injuries to over 50 others.  The fire was started by a resident of the hotel (who also worked for the hotel as a part-time handyman), after he got into a fight with the night manager.  The fire department received the alarm shortly after midnight, and the fire was knocked down a bit before 3 a.m. 

Although the hotel was equipped with 3 enclosed stairways and a smoke detection system, the stairway doors were not closed and allowed early failure of the exit system due to smoke and heat.  Vertical ventilation shafts servicing the bathrooms of each guest room also spread smoke to upper story guest rooms.

NFPA members can download the full investigation report for free, as well as a statistical report about hotel and motel fires.  All site visitors can read the report’s executive summary and a fact sheet.

-Ben Evarts