deadly fire

Two days ago an article in my local newspaper commemorated the 60th anniversary of a terrifying event that remains one of my earliest memories.

I was 4½ years old and we lived in a second floor apartment above Frankie's Restaurant, where my dad worked as a chef. When it started my mother was afraid the fire would spread to our building, which was a stone's toss away from the burning holocaust, so she watched in horror from the street.

She held me in her arms, all the while, keeping my head turned away so as to shield my eyes from the sight. I was too young to remember anything except the terror I felt but I'm sure I heard it all, the sirens, the crying, the screams, the cursing and the praying.

On that frigid New England day, January 24, 1957, in New Haven, Ct, tragedy claimed 15 lives when a fire in a factory quickly trapped employees due to unheeded, or yet unwritten, safety regulations.

One graphic Associated Press report described women, hair and clothing ablaze, trapped on a fire escape that jammed and wouldn't lower. Victims, their legs caught in the fire escape steps, had to be pulled apart by firemen.

Josephine Nastri said, after rescuing her and others, she saw her husband in flames on a fire escape, he was later reported as one of the missing.

factory fire

Some time ago my sister, four years older than I, recalled that she was in class that day at St. Michael's Grammar School which was located a block away from the doomed factory.

My sister said upon seeing the fire from the windows she saw children running hysterically out of the school crying and screaming for their mothers or grandparents, the nuns unable to stop them.

How many of these lives could have been saved if safety regulations had been taken seriously and properly enforced?

President Trump intends to relax up to 75% of manufacturing regulations to create jobs but how many of those regulations will pertain to employee, environmental and community safeguards?

Perhaps instead of relaxing restrictions at home we should tighten restrictions of imports for the same effect.

Last year's "Scrub Act" (H.R. 1155) can repeal regulations that "have excessive compliance costs, impose unfunded mandates, or are otherwise excessively burdensome compared to possible alternatives" or "are not justified by a cost-benefit analysis". This leaves enough gray area to risk putting profits before people.

If we want to make America great again let us not forget that there are some loses that you just cannot write onto a ledger.

Posted Jan 26, 2017

© Carrozza 2017

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