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Fireproof Soundtrack-Life Is Not A Fight [EXCLUSIVE]

Sotheby's is auctioning a special, fireproof copy of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale. Proceeds will go to support PEN America's work opposing book bans. Sotheby's hide caption

Fireproof Soundtrack-Life is Not A Fight

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Bidding on a special, fireproof copy of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale ended on Tuesday afternoon, when the book was auctioned by Sotheby's for $130,000. Proceeds from the auction will go to PEN America's efforts to fight book banning.

"In the face of a determined effort to censor and silence," says PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, "this unburnable book is an emblem of our collective resolve to protect books, stories and ideas from those who fear and revile them. We are thankful to be able to deploy the proceeds of this auction to fortify this unprecedented fight for books."

It seems ridiculous that a people so apt and so eager to seek out and destroy the mysterious and hidden enemies of mankind should be so slow and sluggish in fighting a foe so plainly in sight and so readily vanquished. We have let the world in seeking out the causes of pestilence and removing them. We are in the very vanguard of the battle against tuberculosis, typhoid and yellow fever, and still we stand apart and let the older nations lead the fight against an enemy much more easily conquered."

Factory buildings may be classified as special factories or buildings especially constructed for manufacturing purposes, generally occupied by one or two establishments, loft buildings, which may be fireproof or non-fireproof, and dwellings or tenements originally erected for living purposes, but which have been converted into factories.

Three of the above types are especially dangerous when used as factory buildings. These are (1st) the converted dwelling or tenement house which was never intended to be used for business purposes above the ground floor; (2nd) the non-fireproof loft building usually six or seven stories high; and (3rd) the fireproof loft building less than 150 feet in height.

The non-fireproof loft building is usually six or seven stories in height, 25 feet wide by 80 feet in depth, with brick, stone or iron fronts and rears, brick side walls, wooden floors and wooden trim. There is usually one unenclosed wooden stairway, varying in width from two to three and one-half feet, and often winding around the elevator shaft. Wooden doors lead to the stairways; very often the doors open inwardly. These buildings, as a rule, possess exerior (sic) fire-escapes similar to those found on the converted tenement described above. Usually every floor in these buildings is occupied by a different tenant, in some cases there being two or more tenants on each floor. The tenant uses the floor, or his portion of it, as salesroom, office and factory, dividing one from the other by wooden partitions. In the manufacturing part there are usually a number of machines placed as close together as possible with little aisle space between. These buildings are to be found in numbers on the lower east and west side. The number of people permitted to work on a floor is restricted only by a provision of the Labor Law which provides a minimum of 250 cubic feet of air space per person and entirely disregards the floor area. As the distance between floor and ceiling is at least ten feet, and often more, this cubic air space is easily obtained without any appreciable prevention of overcrowding and congestion. The present law does not require the posting of the number of people allowed even by this standard, and so prosecutions for violations of this law are practically unknown. These buildings usually do not contain any automatic sprinklers. They have fire pails, which are rarely kept for the proper purpose. A few of them have standpipes, with hose which is often useless.

The fireproof loft building less than 150 feet in height, that is about 12 stories or under, has brick, stone or metal exterior walls, wooden floors and trim, stairways of metal or stone and elevators. Stairways are generally about three feet wide, enclosed by fireproof walls. These buildings are either 25, 50, 75 or 100 feet wide by 80 to 200 feet in depth, the usual size being 50 by 80 or 90 feet. The conditions of occupancy as to tenants are similar to those in the non-fireproof loft buildings just described. The Triangle Waist Company occupied a building of this type at 23-29 Washington Place. That building, in its construction and interior is typical of the so-called fireproof loft buildings, and indeed much better than hundreds of buildings used for similar purposes in New York city (sic) to-day. Some of these buildings have automatic sprinkler systems. They are usually provided with stand pipes, connected with the city water supply, and have on each floor a hose of required length, and some are provided with exterior fire-escapes. It is to be noted that in these buildings the elevators are used to go from the street to the upper floors not only by the employers but by the employees. In most cases the latter are absolutely unaware of the location of the stairways. Auxiliary fire appliances are present in most cases, but their existence is unknown to the workers and no care is given to their preservation. The interior arrangements are similar to those existing in the non-fireproof loft building, the same wooden partitions, the same congestion and doors opening inwardly.

Testimony shows that the danger in these so-called fireproof buildings results from the use of wood for floors, doors and trim. The buildings are usually of such a height that the Fire Department ladders and extensions, and even the water towers, do not reach the upper stories. Fire occurring in these places under conditions of manufacture which are hereafter described usually results in the destruction of the entire contents of the building while walls and floors remain substantially intact.

...trim and doors are of metal or fire-resisting material, the stairways are of stone or metal, and enclosed by fireproof walls. There are usually several stairways and elevators. The buildings are sometimes supplied with automatic sprinkler systems and have standpipes to which hose is connected on each floor, and other appliances for extinguishing fires. In addition, these buildings sometimes have exterior stairways leading either to the street or to the ground in the rear. The buildings are usually 50, 75 or 100 feet or more in width and are from 75 to 200 feet deep. They are occupied for manufacturing and other purposes, and sometimes one tenant is found to occupy more than one floor. In these buildings, if a fire occurs, it is usually confined to the floor on which it starts since it cannot burn up or down except through the windows.

Above the sixth floor these buildings are open to the same objections as are fireproof buildings less than 150 feet high, namely the upper floors cannot be reached by the firemen. The exit facilities are usually well constructed, but the number of people who occupy these buildings is not determined by either exits, width of stairways, or floor space. The only restriction is, as in all other buildings, the 250 cubic feet of air space provision. The distance between the floors is usually 10 to 15 feet, so the cubic air space may fulfil the legal requirement while the floor presents a congested condition.

Particular reference is made to the fireproof building which is believed on account of its construction to be safer for the occupants than the non-fireproof building and to require few if any precautions, either to prevent fire or to preserve the safety of the occupants in case of fire. The testimony discloses the weakness of these suppositions. While fireproof building itself will not burn, the merchandise, wooden partitions and other imflammable (sic) material burn as readily in a fireproof building as in any other. It is assumed by all fire insurance experts that when a fire occurs on any one floor, the contents of that entire floor will be destroyed. It is like placing paper in a fireproof box - it confines the fire to that locality, but the fire is just as hot and just as...

...destructive within its bounds. Therefore, unless means are provided for automatically extinguishing fires and for the rapid escape of the occupants, loss of life may occur even in fireproof buildings.

The Triangle Waist Company fire is illustrative of this fact. There the building was practically left intact, yet the fire was severe enough to cause the death of a large number of the occupants. In the fireproof building the fire is confined to a limited area and is therefore more easily controlled. The occupants of floors over eighty feet from the ground cannot, however, be reached by the Fire Department's ladders, and must trust for escape to the stairways or exterior fire-escapes.

In many of these buildings the occupants manufacture garments and other inflammable articles. The floors are littered with a quantity of cuttings, waste material and rubbish, and are often soaked with oil or grease. No regular effort is made to clear the floors. No fireproof receptacles are provided for the accumulated waste, which in some cases is not removed from the floors for many days. Many of the workmen, foremen and employers smoke during business hours and at meal times. Lighted gas jets are unprotected by globes or wire netting, and are placed near to the inflammable material. Very often quantities of made-up garments and inflammable raw material are stored in those lofts. Fire drills are not held, save in rare instances, exits are unmarked and the location of the stairways and exterior fire-escapes is often unknown. Access to the stairway and outside fire-escapes is obstructed by machinery, wooden partitions and piled-up merchandise, while in some cases the fire-escape balcony is at such a distance from the floor as to make it almost impossible for women employees to reach it without assistance. Wired glass is not used in the windows facing the balconies of the fire-escapes except in fireproof buildings over 150 feet high. In some cases the window leading to fire-escapes are not large enough to permit the passage of grown persons readily. Automatic or manual fire-alarms are hardly ever provided, except in the larger fireproof buildings. 041b061a72

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