It's important to remember the March 25, 1911, Triangle Fire in lower Manhattan that killed 146 factory workers. The fire service needs to remember not just because of the political changes the fire triggered, but also because of the changes in the fire service that date from the Triangle fire.

Five weeks after the fire, the FDNY Chief at the time, Edward Croker, resigned to dedicate the rest of his life to fire prevention. As chief of FDNY since 1899, Croker had been waiting for the worst to happen as it did at the Triangle Fire. He'd been fighting for improved factory safety for years without much progress; business owners accused him of taking kickbacks from sprinkler companies in an attempt to shut him up.

In 1912, after the Triangle Fire and Croker's resignation, FDNY finally added a fire prevention bureau for the first time. Fire prevention and safety improvements all too often follow the loss of life; political change occurs when enough publicity is generated following tragedy, as it did following the Triangle Fire, but the change would not have occurred because of publicity alone if Chief Croker had not been advocating change all along.

For the full story of the Triangle Fire fireground operations and Chief Croker's battle for change, to go