Image: Jim Wilson/The New York Times
When tragedy strikes, many feel compelled to help. We are human. We hear about tragic events like the recent fires in Oakland, Boston and Tennessee and we feel pain. So we look for ways to help others through a horrific disaster and help ourselves get through it too. Since the disaster in Oakland, I’ve seen a lot articles about the recent deadly fires and a common observation is that people are stepping up to help people.
Given my work with architects, designers and contractors, it’s been interesting to follow the coverage of the Oakland disaster. One particular article that struck me was in makezine.com and focused on fire safety and emergency response for makerspaces, co-ops and DIY live/work warehouse settings. The piece offered basic information for the design community and artists drawn to creative spaces, and offered important insight on ignition sources, fire extinguisher types and emergency exit signs. Jurisdictions like NYC also distributed educational flyers to residents outlining the dangers of illegally-converted spaces.
The New York Times reported on a crackdown on illegal warehouse workspaces and referenced a website called saferspac.es that was created to address the dangers that often come with living in underground creative spaces. Geared toward professionals and innovators interested in honing their craft just steps away from their bed, the site is attracting traffic from engineers, safety professionals and lawyers who want to share their expertise with tenants, artists and building owners. The Times also created a 3D model so that readers could visualize and learn about the dangers that lurked inside the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland.
The authors of these stories are doing their part to share potential hazards, best practices and building code information with audiences just as NFPA has done for more than a century with codes like NFPA 101, the Life Safety Code® and research reports on nightclub and other assembly occupancies and warehouse fires. The recent large scale fire incidents of late created loss that I wish never happened, but these tragedies have also nurtured kindness, mindfulness and outreach in society so that we can ease the pain and avoid similar tragedies in the future.