Friday, February 11, 2011


I can't recall why, but today had me looking at information about the fire at London's Kings Cross Station. It was in 1987 and thirty one people were killed. Essentially it was caused by a dropped lit match down beside a timber escalator which ignited a build up of grease and other flammable material. Quite predictable and the fire could have easily been prevented by enforcing no smoking bans and keeping the underside of escalators clean. What wasn't known about was the 'trench effect' where fire could burn on a 30 degree angle. Add this to odd ventilation air currents, solvent based paint, the tube air pressure from trains and the fire engulfed a ticket hall resulting in the disaster the fire became.

Another fire disaster, also in England, happened during a football/soccer match in Bradford in 1985. Again it was predictable, principally caused by an accumulation of rubbish under an old timber grandstand. I recall seeing this, a video fruitlessly restricted, on a work training course. I can't recall the relevance to my work, but it was pretty horrifying. A bit of reading tells me most of the 56 who died did so because of locked exits, turnstiles and fences. The fire took only four minutes to engulf the stand.

Fire really scares me. Not so much bush fires. You get some warning about them if you have your wits about you. No, it is the random, the bad luck, the trapped in a confined area, the ones where authorities are supposed to protect you but have let you down. These are the ones I fear.


  1. Yes indeed. I was in an indoor cricket stadium one time and remarked to the proprietor that it was not good to have 200 spare folding chairs stacked against the rear exit (the only other exit than the front one at the end of a long narrow corridor) and he turned quite nasty on me. silly me.

    I saw in an old engineering textbook that when the Bradford stadium was built it was the absolute last word in modern engineering feats.
    Litter and bad Admin are the scourges of society*.
    that is all.

    (oh* - and Justin Madderning)

  2. Good one Stacks, you just had to mention Justifying Justin who I wanted to slap six ways from Sunday using Abbott as the bat.

    I'm afraid of dark holes full of water so you won't see me at James Cameron's movie about being trapped in caves with rising water and darkness.

  3. Emstacks, it rather depends on us too to be vigilant and call such matters, as you did. Just wondering if I will write something about Madden.

    Two down at the same time Jah Teh. I like the way you think.

  4. "Fire really scares me." -- And yet you live in a high rise?

  5. It did strike me as I was writing it Daniel, plus this experience in Thailand was disturbing.

    Our fire systems are well maintained, but now I am wondering if grease and muck gets cleaned up at the bases of the lift shafts.

  6. Fascinating how supporters kept on chanting their football songs as the blaze engulfed the stand.

  7. I didn't pick that up Victor. In some ways it is quite disturbing, but in other ways I understand.

  8. My nightshift brain read that as "I caused it...." Then I got even more confused!