On the night of November 28, 1942, fire swept through a popular nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts, the Cocoanut Grove. In under 30 minutes, the fire left 492 people dead or dying. According to NFPA’s initial investigation report, the tragedy was not caused by deficiencies in fire safety laws, but in proper enforcement of those laws. The investigation into the fire revealed major code violations, including overcrowding, locked exit doors, inward swinging doors, and flammable decorations. Many deaths would have been avoided had there been adequate exits.
Even now, the Cocoanut Grove fire symbolizes the need for strict enforcement of strong fire codes.