“This tragedy ushered in an era in which building codes were put into place to promote safe egress in all public spaces,” said Mark Berger, chairman of the Codes and Government Affairs Committee for the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA).
“BHMA has taken a leading role in working with code-writing bodies to ensure that the standards that have been created are also reflected in the code process,” said Berger, president and chief product officer for Securitech. “The great effort now is creating mechanisms to ensure that emergency doors are regularly inspected for functionality and compliance, as required by code.”
The deadly fire started on the eighth floor when a cigarette or a match was thrown in a bin full of flammable fabric scraps and quickly spread to shirtwaist patterns made of tissue paper that hung above the worktables.
The fire quickly engulfed the ninth- and tenth-floors when an air shaft at the rear of the building funneled smoke and flames trapping workers inside and causing some to jump out of the windows to their deaths.
Exit doors had been locked as a theft deterrent because it was believed that garment workers were stealing. However, Berger said there was a New York State labor law prohibiting such practices at that time.
“There was a requirement that doors to work spaces had to remain unlocked while a facility was occupied,” Berger said. “This is the same basis of all codes which followed, with the creation of emergency exit hardware and their required uses as the major code improvement.”
Other contributing factors included blocked staircases and an inadequate fire escape that didn’t have a drop ladder installed. What compounded the problem further was that the fire truck ladders only reached the sixth floor.
Today, code enforcement and vigilance is key to life safety and security for any building owner. A good example of this is the September 11th tragedy, where 95 percent of the people working below the impact area of the Twin Towers were evacuated safely, as a result of vigilant adherence to the codes requiring unimpeded access to working exit doors, Berger said.
BHMA is an industry leader in building safety and security. BHMA is the only organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop and maintain performance standards for locks, closers, exit devices and other builders hardware. The widely known ANSI/BHMA A156 series of standards describes and establishes the features and criteria for specific types of hardware products. In addition, BHMA sponsors third-party certification of hardware products, which is a requirement for a product to bear the “BHMA Certified” mark — insuring that the product meets the ANSI/BHMA standard. For more information on BHMA, please write to BHMA, 355 Lexington Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY, 10017 or visit the Web site at www.buildershardware.com.
LaserCard receives U.S. Green Card Order
Optical security media ID cards from ASSA ABLOY’s LaserCard to be issued under the Department of Homeland Security’s US Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”) program.
LaserCard Corporation announced receipt of an order for approximately $8.6 million for optical security media cards to be issued under the Department of Homeland Security’s US Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”) program. Delivery is scheduled for completion in August, 2011.
“The US Green Card has set new standards in security and functionality for government programs worldwide,” said Robert DeVincenzi, president of LaserCard Corporation. “It is the world’s first implementation of optical security media for visual and data security and an RFID tag for accelerated border crossing, and it incorporates a host of security innovations.”
“The specification of LaserCard’s optical security media for this high profile and critical application is evidence of the company’s innovative technical leadership in the secure credential arena,” said Denis Hébert, Head of HID Global which recently completed the acquisition of LaserCard. “It is a key component of the compelling advantages we will jointly offer as a single source of complete e-Identity solutions.”