Today in History From the NFPA Archives: Lakeview School Fire - Collinwood, OH 1904

Blog Post created by jrodowicz Employee on Mar 4, 2018
Today marks the 114th anniversary of the Lakeview School Fire in Collinwood, Ohio.
A tragic fire occurred on March 4th, 1908 at the Lakeview School in Collinwood, Ohio. The fire occurred during the school day between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM, and it resulted with the deaths of 173 students and 2 teachers.
Ohio Fire
The janitor ran to ring the bell to sound the fire alarm after he was alerted by one of the students using the restroom in the basement. Unfortunately, many of the students thought that it was just a drill, which led to the chaos when they discovered that it was indeed real. The probable cause of the fire was that the steam heating pipes were too close to the wooden structure of the building and the pipes ignited the dry wood above.
The fire incident at Collinwood was indeed sobering and it led to "a higher level of scrutiny of school systems everywhere resulted, with an increase in fire drills and a reassessment of school building design" (NFPA Journal, 72). This incident certainly helped propel the standards for fire safety and exits in schools, including the Life Safety Code which was "first published in 1912 as Exit Drills in Factories, Schools, Department stores, and Theaters" (NFPA Journal, 72). In the case of this fire incident, the children and teachers knew the fire drill and had practiced it many times, but it wasn't until the fire that they were able to see the improper egress and complications that came with the buildings construction. 
  • NFPA Journal 2008 Vol. 108, No.5:  Grant, Casey C. "The Lakeview School Fire Collinwood's Hardest Lesson.” 
  • NFPA Quarterly 102 no. 5, 64-72.
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.