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Indianapolis Athletic Club Fire-Egress

MEANS OF EGRESS
There were 45-50 people in the building at the time of the fire. The
toll from this fire could have been significantly higher had there been more
people in the building or if those occupants who were closest to the area of
fire origin had not reacted promptly to use the available means of escape
to leave the building. The body of one male hotel guest who was killed
was found in the west service stairway between the sixth and seventh floors
after the fire was extinguished.
Confusing and Nonconforming Means of Egress
Only one stairway, a service stairway, provided direct, unobstructed
access to all floors, including the three levels below grade. However, this
stairway was not of adequate width to function as an approved means of
egress and the stair shaft also accommodated mechanical and plumbing
services, including a laundry or trash chute. Moreover, it did not provide a
continuous protected path down and out of the building.
Five stairways served the residential floors above the 6th floor.
With the exception of the service stair, all other stairways serving the guest
room floors required occupants to leave the stairways on the 6th and 3rd
floors to cross over to another stairway, in order to continue downward.
Three stairways served the lower floors. The east stairway carried
occupants from the sixth down to the third floor. The occupants had to
cross over to the center monumental stairway to continue down to the
lobby (grade) level. The west stairway continued down to the first
basement level. No means was provided for identifying which stairways
provided access to which floors.
No Stairway Separation
All of the stairways below the sixth floor, except the service stair,
were unprotected on one or more floors. The center monumental stair was
open to floors one through three. The east stairway, which connected the
third through ninth floors, was open on the third and fourth floors. This
stairway, the operating air handling system, and open mechanical shafts
provided the primary means of smoke transport to the upper floors of the

building. Smoke damage varied from light to extensive on all floors above
the fire.
Smoke entering the west service stairway was a fatal problem for the
civilian victim of this fire. If there had been more people in the building,
the confusing stairways and lack of proper stairway enclosures would
probably have caused a major problem.


 

 
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