Lessons from Japanese Experience with Fire Disasters in Public Buildings
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University, 3-4-1 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8555, Japan
Fatal fire disasters in commercial and hotel buildings and social effort not to repeat disasters from the 1930s to the beginning of the 21st Century in Japan are reviewed to verify what have been learnt from fire disasters in modern public buildings. Shirokiya Department fire in 1932, Japan’s first significant fatal fire in commercial building, evoked social awareness of fire safety in high-rise buildings, and led to the requirements for general framework for the limitation of fire damage in large scale building such as fire separation for the restriction of damaged area, protected escape staircases, and sprinklers. However, procrastination in introducing smoke control and floor-to-floor fire and smoke separation is believed to have become a background for the frequent fatal fires in public buildings in the 1960s. Experience of fatal fires in hotel buildings from the 1960s to the mid-1980s led to the introduction of labeling of fire safety and qualification of fire safety manager for hotels, which became the main background for exterminating fatal hotel fires.