|Interstate Bank Building Fire
Los Angeles, California (May 4, 1988)
|On Wednesday, May 4 and continuing in to May 5, 1988,
the Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to and
extinguished the most challenging and difficult high-rise
fire in the city's history. The fire destroyed four
floors and damaged a fifth floor of the modern 62 story
First Interstate Bank building in downtwon L.A., claimed
one life, injured approximately 35 occupants and 14
fire personnel, and resulted in a property loss of over
This was one of the most destructive high-rise fires
in recent United States history. The fire presented
the greatest potential for the "Towering Inferno"
scenario of any U.S. fire experience and was controlled
only through the massive and dedicated manual fire
suppression efforts large metropolitan fire department.
It demonstrated the absolute need automatic sprinklers
to provide protection for tall buildings.
SUMMARY OF KEY ISSUES
frame; exterior of glass and aluminum.
Unusually good application of fire resistive
coating helped maintain structural integrity
security and maintenance personnel delayed
notifying Fire Department for 15 minutes
after first evidence of fire.
detectors on several floors had been activated
and reset a number of times before reporting
to Fire Department.
employee died while trying to investigate
source of alarms prior to calling Fire Department.
system was installed in 90 percent of the
building, including on fire floors; valves
controlling the systems had been closed,
awaiting installation of water-flow alarms.
Design and Contents
open area with readily combustible contents
contributed to quick fire growth.
fire pumps had been shut down, reducing
available water pressure for initial attack.
communications were overtaxed and disrupted
by building's steel frame.
and water damaged telephone
making them unusable.
emergency phone system in building was