ASSE NY City Chapter Triangle Commemoration Event One to Remember
ASSE NY City Chapter’s Events Commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Centennial & the ASSE Legacy of 100 Years of Service Truly Memorable
Put together a historical museum dedicated to the sacrifices of the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY); a standing-room only crowd made up of American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) members from the greater New York City/Long Island/Mid-Hudson/New Jersey area, descendants of the victims of the March 25, 1911, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, officials from the NY Governor’s office, the NY Assembly, U.S. House of Representatives, OSHA, the FDNY; the World Trade Center Rescuers Foundation; Bagpipes; ASSE President-Elect Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM; and, a ‘100 Years After the Fire’ presentation by ASSE NY City Chapter member, retired FDNY Fire Marshall Christopher Connor, now at Urban Engineers, and, you have a significant event that celebrated the legacy of the 146 victims of the Triangle Fire. The event was held March 24, 2011, in New York City. The opening began with the Pledge of Allegiance, a moment of silence, and “Amazing Grace” performed by Piper John Manning of the NYC EMS Pipes and Drums.
Due to the efforts of many, especially the ASSE NY City Chapter, ASSE’s centennial has been part of the New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire 100th anniversary stories worldwide as one of the positive legacy’s left by the 146 victims of the fire. The NY City Chapter’s evening dedicated to the victims’ memories and the founding of the modern safety movement brought many people together to reflect on the fire where 146 women and men working at a shirtwaist factory either jumped eight stories to their death to the ground below or down the elevator shaft trying to escape a deadly fire. There were no fire sprinklers or safety precautions.
ASSE NYC Chapter President Michael P. Voudouris and Past-President Peter Amato appeared in multiple media interviews — local and national — on the anniversary and workplace safety – both print and electronic as did ASSE member and former fire Marshall Christopher Connor. The March 24 event was also shown on local TV news shows. Connor will be presenting a program on the Triangle fire at Safety 2011.
The ASSE NYC Chapter commemoration dinner at the NYC Fire Museum was titled “The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Centennial & the ASSE Legacy of 100 Years of Service”. The successful event was planned and carried out by ASSE NYC Chapter officers and dinner committee which included Chapter President Voudouris; Vice President Doug Pollock; Secretary Andrey Vishey; Treasurer Shaun Carvalho, Past President Dina Vazquez, Past President Peter Amato, and Communications Team of Dan Orlowski, Terry Callendrillo, Leslie Radanovich and Christopher Connor.
ASSE member Teresa Dwyer, CSP, of Florida, a native New Yorker and a former safety and health officer for the NY City Fire Department also provided assistance with the events.
The event, aimed at remembering the victims of the Triangle fire, looking back at 100 years of safety and the future of work safety surpassed the planning committee’s expectations. Not only was it sold out, but officials from many offices came through with their support and in-person recognition of the occupational safety, health and environmental profession and the 100 years of service illustrated by ASSE’s 100th anniversary celebration this year.
President-Elect Norris drove home the reason for the evening’s event. “We are here for 146 reasons,” she told the audience. “The 146 women and men who lost their lives in a preventable fire 100 years ago. When the fire broke out they had no way to escape. The doors were locked, the fire escapes were gone and there were only a couple of buckets of water. Many jumped to their deaths to the street below, their bodies and clothes on fire, and into the elevator shaft… From the ashes of that fire was born the American Society of Safety Engineers. An organization committed to preventing injuries and illnesses worldwide and committed to make sure another Triangle fire never occurs again.”
She ended the speech by reiterating that ASSE will continue to remember the victims and to move their legacy forward. Norris received a standing ovation.
Providing links to the past were New York State Senator Maltese who told the audience how he lost two of his great aunts in the Triangle fire and his grandfather lost his wife — but only after having to go the morgue and try to identify the jewelry as most of the bodies were unidentifiable. Adding to the tragedy was that prior to losing his wife and sisters in the fire, Maltese’s grandfather’s four-year-old daughter had died just months earlier.
Jerome I. Charyn, Ph.D., M.B.A., told the audience that not only did his two aunts perish, but that his grandfather survived hte fire, and that the stories told during his childhood resulted in his dedication to occupational safety and health. In the 1970’s he joined the American Society of Safety Engineers. He is also a fire prevention and hazmat specialist. From that time on he became an expert in occupational health with hospitals in the greater New York area. He proudly showed the ASSE pin he received when he was a member of the old Metropolitan chapter and that ASSE has played an important part in his life. He talked about his grandfather’s courtroom testimony at the Triangle fire trial and how ASSE and its members over the past 100 years have made a difference in preventing other Triangle tragedies.
Other speakers included OSHA’s Deputy Regional Administrator II Richard Mendelson, New York State Assembly’s Subcommittee on Workplace Safety’s legislative director Allison Weingarten, New York State Governor’s Office Deputy Secretary Alphonso David, Remember the Triangle coalition member and author Joel Soskinsky.
The same day, ASSE participated in the “Out of the Smoke and Flame: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and Its Legacy” program at the City University of New York School of Professional Studies. Amato presented on a panel titled “Could Triangle Happen Today?” ASSE staff distributed historical information as well as information on the profession throughout the one-day event attended by close to 1,000 federal, city, university and state officials, teachers and students.
Finally, ASSE President Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP, and President-Elect Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM, along with ASSE members and staff attended the 100th anniversary of the Triangle fire at the Asch Building, now known as the Brown Science Center, where the fire occurred. Thousands attended the event Friday, March 25, 2011, and watched as descendants of the victims laid a carnation where many had jumped to their deaths. FDNY members, who volunteered their time, stood at attention as the 9/11 bell was rung, once for each of the 146 victims whose names were read by their descendants and school children.
After the ceremony, Hill, Norris and Voudouris joined the victims’ families at a luncheon to discuss the past and the future, especially in the area of work safety. As one family member noted, “one of the good things that happened as a result of this tragic fire was the formation of the American Society of Safety Engineers.”
For more information or photos contact ASSE’s Diane Hurns at firstname.lastname@example.org.