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    Default The Cocoanut Grove Fire Revisited

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
    Oct. 17, 2005

    The Cocoanut Grove Fire Revisited

    On Nov. 28, 1942, a horrific fire swept through the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, killing nearly 500 people and forever changing fire code enforcement, burn treatments and manslaughter case law.

    On Nov. 2, 2005, a group of experts will examine this pivotal fire from multiple perspectives in a landmark panel discussion at the Boston Public Library.

    This is the first time the fire has been examined from a multi-disciplinary approach and will give Bostonians a greater understanding of the ongoing legacy of the Cocoanut Grove inferno. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Rabb Lecture Hall of the Boston Public Library.

    The Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire is considered one of the worst disasters in American history. The cause was never officially determined, but about 10 p.m. on Nov. 28, 1942, a busboy lit a match while screwing in a light bulb in the popular club's dimly lit downstairs lounge. A fast-moving fire broke out and roared through the entire club, which was packed with revelers and football fans. Panicked clubgoers were trapped by faulty exits and a jammed revolving door. Survivors suffered terrible burns and mysterious injuries to their lungs. The official death toll was 492, which included the suicide of one grief-stricken survivor. In a subsequent trial, the club owner -- who was not even at the club the night of the fire -- was convicted of manslaughter.

    The impact of Grove fire has particular resonance in the wake of the tragic Station club fire in Rhode Island, which had eerie similarities to the 1942 disaster.

    The Nov. 2 event will be moderated by Stephanie Schorow, author of Boston on Fire: A History of Fires and Firefighter in Boston, (Commonwealth Editions, 2003) and The Cocoanut Grove Fire, (Commonwealth Editions, 2005), and a former Boston Herald reporter.

    Presenters and their areas of expertise include:

    The fire's legal impact:
    John C. Esposito, author of Fire in the Grove:
    The Cocoanut Grove Tragedy and Its Aftermath (Da Capo Press 2005). A member of the New York, Washington D.C., and the United States Supreme Court bars, Esposito was an original member of "Naderís Raiders" and the primary author of Vanishing Air: the Nader Study Group Report on Air Pollution (Grossman Publishers, 1970). His interest in the Grove fire began while a student at Harvard Law School.

    The fire's medical impact:
    Barbara Ravage, author of Burn Unit: Saving
    Lives After the Flames (Da Capo Press, 2004), a look at the evolution of
    groundbreaking burn treatments, many as a result of the Grove fire, at Massachusetts General Hospital. A native New Yorker now living on Cape Cod, and a graduate of Barnard College, Ravage has written eight books on a broad range of science, health, and medical topics.

    Fighting the fire:
    Charles Kenney, the grandson of a firefighter who
    fought the Cocoanut Grove fire, is the author of Rescue Men, an upcoming book on Boston firefighters. He has written three novels and four works of non-fiction including John F. Kennedy: The Presidential Portfolio (PublicAffairs, 2000). He was a reporter and editor at the Boston Globe for 16 years.

    Fire regulation:
    Casey Grant, assistant vice president of Code &
    Standards Administration and assistant chief engineer at the National Fire Protection Association and the editor for the fire safety section of the ILO Encyclopedia on Occupational Health and Safety.

    The subsequent panel discussion will also include:
    Jack Deady, of Bedford, N.H., son of Philip W. Deady, detective lieutenant inspector with the Massachusetts State Police, who was appointed as lead investigator on the Grove fire. Jack Deady, who retired from IBM after a career in sales, marketing and management, has been researching and lecturing on the fire for decades.

    Representatives of the Boston Fire Department will also participate.
    The panel discussion will be followed by an audience Q & A. Authors will be available to sign copies of their books, which will be on sale.

    For more information on the event, contact the BPL communications office
    at (617) 859-2212. To interview the participants, contact: Stephanie Schorow at (781) 874-0040 or sschorow@comcast.net .

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
    CALENDAR LISTING
    Contact: Boston Public Library: (617) 859-2212

    The Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire -- one of the worst disasters in Boston's
    history -- will be the focus of a multi-author panel discussion on Wednesday,
    Nov. 2, 2005, in the Rabb Lecture Hall of the Boston Public Library. Experts
    will examine the 1942 fire's legal, medical, regulatory and personal legacy.
    The free event will be moderated by Stephanie Schorow, author of The Cocoanut Grove Fire. Call (617) 859-2212 for information.
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
    -- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)

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    It always amazed me, not so much what we learned, but what we didnt learn from that fire. We still didnt learn enough to prevent the tragedy at the Beverly Hills Super Club some 30 years latter, nor the recent fire in RI (the name escapes me). 60+ years latter we still dont have mandatory sprinkler laws for these occupancies in many places.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

    Success is when skill meets opportunity
    Failure is when fantasy meets reality

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