Last Updated 17 Aug 2022

Code Changes After the Mgm Grand Fire

Category Fire
Words 690 (2 pages)
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On the Morning of November 21, 1980, a fire burned that killed 85 people, and ultimately injured more than 700 others. Typically, it has come to be known that in order for a new law, regulation, and/or ordinance to be put into place, there has to be a previous event that causes death or injury, makes the news, or basically anything that stirs the voices of the public. The 1980 MGM Grand Fire was just that. Most people remember a lot of people died in the fire and that it was the catalyst for Nevada's tough fire codes and retrofit laws that make the state's resorts among the safest places to stay (Morrison). The 1980 fire at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel changed fire codes, and established new ones, some of which are still in place today.

Many critics and other individuals involved with the fire report and investigation of the MGM Grand Fire said that that if there were properly installed, maintained, and adequate fire sprinkler systems installed, the fire would have been a two-sprinkler fire. Instead, the chairman of the MGM Grand building committee opted against the installation of fire sprinkler systems during construction in the 1970s. As previously stated, 85 people died and more than 700 others were injured, basically all resulting from a poor decision made to save 192,000 dollars by opting not to install fire sprinklers. Ironically, the damages from the fire as well as the lawsuits placed against the MGM Grand Corporation resulted in billions of dollars worth of deficit.

Not more than three months after the November fire, Nevada’s building and fire codes were revised to have the most strict fire sprinkler and life safety codes in the country. All hotels larger than fifty-five feet in height were required to be retrofitted with fire sprinkler systems. Also, all future building constructed of three or more stories were required to install fire sprinkler systems.

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Building officials and chairpersons of hotels and casinos in Nevada were largely opposed to retrofitting their buildings with fire sprinkler systems. Their reasoning for this was that the average cost of the retrofit was usually no less that two million dollars in cost. Ultimately, it took another loss of life and injury causing fire to force these retrofits to take place. While the state of Nevada and the rest of the world was still caught in the wake of the MGM Grand fire, an arsonist set fire to the Las Vegas Hilton Casino on February 10, 1981. Eight people perished and more than 200 were injured. Opposition to the expensive retrofitting disappeared.

At the time of the MGM Grand Fire, it was not required that fire department personnel had to be part of the building construction plan review process. The fire department is now largely involved in the construction and plan review process before a building is built. Also, construction materials used are more fire resistant. Ventilation systems have also been improved, and are very helpful in removing the smoke, rather than allowing it to make its way to upper floors of a high rise structure, which was a large cause of loss of life in the MGM Grand fire due to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Have there been fires in hotels and casinos since the disastrous MGM Grand Fire in 1980? Of course there has. The reason why you may not hear about them as much or there isn’t a loss of life is that most fires are confined to a single room and contents fire, and are extinguished before they are allowed to rapidly spread. This is credited in large part to adequate fire sprinkler systems as well as fire resistant construction. A former Las Vegas fire chief stated that because of the fire code changes and additions as a result of previous fire make Las Vegas Hotels some of the safest to stay in. Also, fire departments are adequately trained and prepared to fight fire in these structures through annual high rise firefighting trainings. The MGM Grand Fire on November 21, 1980, made for revisions of fire codes and the additions of new codes, that are still in place today.

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