Report on Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire

Topics: Rooms, Floors, Building Pages: 6 (1466 words) Published: March 15, 2005
At 2215 hrs, on November 28, 1942, Fire Alarm Headquarters from Box 1514, situated at Stuart and Carver streets, received an alarm. When the responding apparatus arrived they found a small car fire at the corner of Stuart Street and Broadway. After the fire was extinguished the firefighters were about to return to quarters when their attention was called to smoke emanating from the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub a few doors away. Upon their arrival at the entrance of the Broadway lounge on Broadway they encountered numerous people leaving the premises admidst the cries of "fire". The chief in charge immediately ordered that a third alarm be sounded from Alarm Box 1521 which the alarm was received by fire alarm headquarters at 2223 hrs. A civilian sent an alarm that was received at 2220 by fire alarm headquarters. As soon as the chief in charge realized that the immediate problem was one of rescue he ordered that a fourth alarm (received at 2224) and a fifth alarm (received at 1102) be sent. The apparatus responding was comprised of 25 engine companies, 5 ladder companies, 1 water tower company, 1 rescue company and various other apparatus. 18 hose steams for cooling purposes and three ladders were utilized (located at Piedmont, Broadway, and Shawmut for venting operations).

The fire lasted only 12-14 minutes and killed 492 and injured 164, the reason for this is the building construction, occupancy, and interior design of the club. For better understanding the structure will be described in great detail.

Caricature Bar Section

A wooden bar 48 feet long faced with artificial leather occupied this area of the first-class one-story structure. Bar stools were metal covered with the same material. On the piedmont street side of the room was another bar described as a service bar.

The ceiling was made of plasterboard and the walls were of Masonite coved with artificial leather.

The floor was linoleum on wood.

A large exhaust fan expelled air into a vacant area adjoining the building.

Means of egress from this part of the structure were by means of the main foyer at one end, and on the main dining room side, and at the other end of the bar through the passageway leading to the Broadway Lounge. A closed balustrade about 40" high, separated the Caricature Bar area from the main dining room.

Four casement windows behind the service bar, against the Piedmont Street wall, were not used as a means of egress until the firemen opened them. The windows were found to be in normal operational condition.

Kitchen and Heating Plant

The kitchen, located in the basement, approximately 34 feet by 63 feet in size adjoined the Melody Lounge on the north side (Shawmut Street). It obviously contained the normal kitchen items.

It was an unfinished room with a concrete floor, walls and ceiling.

Exits were by means of a stairway to the main dining room and by the door into the passageway, and into the adjoining room occupied by the heating plant, which had an exit to Shawmut Street, called the service door.

The heating plant was contained in a room approx. 16 feet by 40 feet in size, on the Shawmut Street Side. It adjoined the kitchen and it contents consisted of a furnace, fired by fuel oil from two 275-gallon storage tanks.

Another section of the basement (on the Piedmont Street side) adjoined the kitchen and the Melody Lounge, and was used as a storage vault.

Dressing Rooms

In the second-class structure (no. 4-6 Shawmut Street), adjoining the first class structure (located between the main dining room and the Broadway Lounge) on the second and third floors, were located the dressing rooms used by entertainers employed at the Cocoanut Grove Club.

Entrance to these rooms was from a door leading from the main dining room near the orchestra platform (on the Shawmut Street side), or from the Shawmut Street by a door at the foot of the stairway to the second and third floors.

The dressing rooms had...
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