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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

A Tragedy Changes a National Fire Safety Law

7/27/2022 (Permalink)

Almost 40 years ago a tragedy took place that changed the way fire codes and safety codes are written for amusement parks. For more than 40 years, people have gone to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, a short hour and a half ride from Westchester County, for a day of fun, riding roller coasters, playing boardwalk-style games and eating, walking around and taking in all the sights and sounds of an amusement park. 

On May 11, 1984, a day of fun turned into a day of terror and tragedy. There was a fire that took the lives of eight teenagers trapped inside the Haunted Castle attraction. 

A report on the tragedy released by the National Fire Protection Association said the structure was made of 17 interconnected commercial trailers and plywood frames. Fire consumed a foam pad inside the Haunted Castle and spread through the structure. 

As a result, Six Flags Great Adventure made some drastic changes that effected all Six Flags Parks nationally.  

They invested substantial resources in the safety of their operations and the training of their staff. They began an  in-house fire-safety team routinely checks for hazards and inspects all buildings and equipment. 

They worked with certified, local fire inspectors to ensure that they are in compliance with all state and national fire codes to meet and exceed. 

Peter Smith, author of "Doorway to Hell: The Mysteries and Controversies Surrounding the Deadly Haunted Castle Fire at Six Flags Great Adventure once said that everyone who was at Great Adventure that day and anyone who lives around here will never forget that day, as long as they live.  

The New Jersey State Legislature passed new fire-safety requirements for amusement buildings — such as haunted house — that required all structures designed to disorient, reduce vision, present barriers or impede the flow of traffic, be equipped with fire-detection and -suppression systems, as well as various other fire-safety provisions 

After the fire, Six Flags Great Adventure updated park structures with equipment that includes sprinkler systems, smoke and heat detectors and emergency generators, and added an in-house fire brigade 

The New Jersey Uniform Fire Code also requires a certificate of occupancy be obtained before certain attractions are opened to the public. 

Drawings of the attraction are required, showing entrances/exits, electrical switches, circuit breakers, layout of the visitor path, location of alarm systems and manual pull stations, and the locations of fire extinguishers and telephones. Fire safety and evacuation plans are submitted, with trained employees and staff conducting fire drills in case of an emergency. 

Now, the part of the park where the Haunted Castle was located, has been closed off to the public. 

The tragedy that occurred here prompted a National Law to be written for the safety of people at amusement parks, and it became known as the strictest fire code for the nation.  

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