Triangle Waist Company
The company's owners were tried for manslaughter, but acquitted (1914), and their liability was limited to $75 in damages paid to 23 of the victims' families, awarded after a civil suit. The outcry occasioned by the fire, however, led to important reforms. The Factory Investigating Commission (headed by Robert F. Wagner and Alfred E. Smith), the Bureau of Fire Investigation, and the Fire Department's Fire Prevention Division were all established later in 1911. The ultimate result of their investigations were new labor, health, and fire safety laws, which, among other things, mandated outward-opening doors, sprinkler systems, fire drills, and regular building inspections, and forbade locked doors during working hours. The fire also led to increasingly successful labor-union organizing in city factories and sweatshops, particularly by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and, more broadly, to a liberal and reformist movement within the Democratic party.
See L. Stein, The Triangle Fire (1962, repr. 2011); D. Von Drehle, Triangle (2003).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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