Today we wish to take the time to remember one of the great pioneers for Life Safety Advocacy.
After witnessing the tragedy that occurred at the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire on March 25, 1911, Frances Perkins took up the cause of safety reform. She was one of three female members of the National Fire Protection Association during that time period. In 1912, Frances became the executive secretary of the Committee on Safety, a non-governmental body formed in the days following the Triangle fire to push for system-wide reforms for work safety. In May 1913, she addressed the 17th Annual Meeting of the NFPA in New York and urged the organization to advocate for codes that protected not just buildings, but also the people who worked within them. NFPA created the Committee on Life Safety the following year, and in 1927 issued the Building Exits Code, the forerunner to today's Life Safety Code. Perkins was named Secretary of Labor in 1933 by Franklin Roosevelt, becoming the first female Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.
For more information regarding this story and other NFPA or fire related history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library. The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.