|By The Hartford Courant|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
But there is another legacy of that terrible event, one of continuing comfort and promise: a vast, almost immediate improvement in fire regulations, not just in
In the 1940s, city rules involving the number and size of exits, the placement of fire extinguishers, flameproofing and other safety issues were on the books, but they mostly applied to fixed structures such as theaters and auditoriums. Temporary, traveling entertainment venues such as circus tents were not as strictly regulated. Though there had been a serious circus fire in
When it came to
The tent had been waterproofed with a mixture of paraffin wax and gasoline. The circus had dozens of fire extinguishers, but most weren't located in the tent -- they were near generators -- and some were inoperable. There were no "No Smoking" signs. There were far too few exits, and some were blocked by animal runways. There was no
After the fire, city and state officials, with the help of insurance executives, drafted new regulations for temporary shows that were the toughest in the nation.
Barnum & Bailey gave its last tent performance in 1956, striking the big top for the last time after a show in
As a result, in the past 70 years, not one American life has been lost in a commercial tent fire.
Other changes followed the fire as well. A review ordered by
The circus is long gone from the
As all of us look back with sorrow on that appalling day seven decades ago, remembering those who perished, we can also be grateful for the many potential tragedies that, because of
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