Iroquois Theater Fire What was the impact of the Iroquis Fire on the safety laws of chicago? By Izabella Jimenez


Death, Tragedy, Devastation. These three words sum up the deadly Iroquis Theater Fire on December 30, 1903.

This Theater Fire was very trageic and took over 600 lives. The fire was a wake up call that showed people the new safety laws that needed to be made.

The Iroquois Theater fire, while tragic, led to changes in the fire safety laws.

The event

In the Iroquis Fire about 600 people died and hundreds were hurt. All of these people died because of a theater in Chicago. This theater was showing a play called Mr. Bluebeard, mostly mothers and daughters where going to see the play. This building was only 5 weeks old and was said to be fire proof.

"An arc light on the left side of the stage sputtered and ignited a strip of paint, then on a drape" (Secter 2008).

This shows that a stage light started it all. The audience didn't notice it until it flew onto the scenery and then it spread all over the theater.

The investigation

After they put out the fire, they had an investigation that uncovered that the theater was not very safe.

  • NO Fire alarms
  • NO Sprinklers
  • Locked exits
  • Doors opened inward
  • Scenenary was not fire proof

Therefor, the building was not safe and very likely to catch on fire. This led to many new laws being made.

Later, the owner was charged and convicted of manslaughter for poor safety. The major was indicted, but charges didn't stick. Unfortunately, nobody went to jail except a person that owned a store next door and robbed the dead body's after the fire.

New Saftey Laws

After that investigation, they made new laws during the upcoming years.

  • Outward opening doors
  • Doors had to remain unlocked
  • Exit lights
  • Automatic sprinklers
  • Fire Alarms
  • Flame resistant Props
  • Maximum Seating Capacity
"As a result federal and state codes add requirements for maximum seating capacity, exit signage, exit doors, and the inclusion of sprinklers" (Commercial Fires and Code).

As a result, the new rules made the city much safer and this event stands as a lesson to use the right Fire safety laws. The impact that the Iroquis Fire had on safety laws is that it let people know that the safety of the building is very important, if you don't follow these laws it could end in another very tragic event like this.


In conclusion, the Iroquois Theater Fire was a very devistating event that caused a lot of chaos. At the same time it was a good thing that this happened because it showed people that there needed to be a change in the saftey laws. These new saftey laws that were made because of this event changed the world and made these buildings more safe for the United States, especially the city of Chicago.


"Commercial Fires and Code." Historic Fires that Changed Fire Codes - Building Technologies - Siemens. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
"Fire breaks out in Chicago theater." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
"LibGuides: Significant Illinois Fires: Iroquois Theater Fire." Iroquois Theater Fire - Significant Illinois Fires - LibGuides at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
Secter, Bob. "The Iroquois Theater fire." N.p., 15 Aug. 2008. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

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