NYC Building Department 280 Broadway, 7th Floor, NY, NY
I'm Sandra Polaski, and I am the Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor. This is the site of the New York City Buildings Department. In early 1900, the Department’s inspectors were given a degree of latitude in deciding what would go into a building’s architecture and what would not. In 1900, when the Asch Building was being constructed, the architect secured permission to build only two staircases in the 10-story building instead of the mandated three stairways. The cast-iron fire escape, which didn’t reach the sidewalk below, was to be considered the the other way out in case of fire. The building inspector recommended against such a designation, but he was over ruled. The fire escape’s collapsed during the evacuation cost several people their lives. Sprinklers were readily available in 1900 when the building was being constructed, but they were optional they were not mandatory. The building’s builders ruled out sprinklers as too expensive to implement. Instead, Triangle opted to keep buckets of water close by in case of fire.