A Chicago fireman climbs a ladder to one of the second floor classrooms. (Photo courtesy www.olafire.com)
This past weekend marked the 55th annivesary of one of the most tragic school fires to ever take place in the United States. On December 1, 1958, 95 people lost their lives in the Our Lady of the Angels Roman Catholic grade school in Chicago. It was the deadliest school fire in U.S. history and the first in decades that resulted in a large death toll. Not only did it reminded Americans of some major uncorrected fire hazards in U.S. schools, but it also shone a light on other hazards that had not been widely recognized before. It is one of the reasons many fire and life safety codes and standards are enforced in schools across the country today.
Read an NFPA Journal online exclusive from 2008 for a detailed look at what happened that day in Chicago and what advances in school fire safety have been made in the past five decades. Also see the official memorial site for the Our Lady of Angels fire.