Kader Toy Factory fire

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The Kader Toy Factory fire occurred on 10 May 1993 at a factory in Thailand. It is considered the worst industrial factory fire in history, killing 188 persons, and injuring 469.[1] Most of the victims were young female workers from rural families. More people were killed than in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; despite this, the incident received little media attention outside Thailand. The factory was owned by the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, a Thai transnational corporation and one of Asia's largest agribusiness firms.

Fire[edit]

The Kader toy factory manufactured stuffed toys and licensed plastic dolls primarily intended for export to the United States and other developed countries. The toys were produced for Disney, Mattel, and others. The factory was on Phutthamonthon Sai 4 Road, in the Sam Phran District of Nakhon Pathom Province. The structures that were destroyed in the blaze were all owned and operated directly by Kader Industrial (Thailand). Kader industrial was owned by a variety of individuals and businesses including the main Kader company, which owned the Kader Toy Factory. Kader had two sister companies that also operated at the location on a lease arrangement.

The factory was poorly designed and built. Fire exits drawn in the building plans were not, in fact, constructed, and the existing external doors were locked. The building was reinforced with uninsulated steel girders which quickly weakened and collapsed when it was heated by the flames.

At about 16:00 on May 10th, 1993, a small fire was discovered on the first floor of part of the E-shaped building. Workers located in the upper floors were instructed to keep working because they were told the fire was minor. The fire alarm in the building did not sound. The upper floors were dedicated to store finished products causing the fire to spread quickly. Other parts of the factory were full of raw materials which also burned very fast.[2]

Workers in the first building who tried to escape found the ground floor exit doors to be locked, and the stairwells soon collapsed on top of the workers due to the fire. Many workers jumped from the second, third, and fourth-floor windows in order to escape the flames, resulting in severe injuries or death. Local security guards attempted, but were unsuccessful to put out the flames. A call was made at 16:21 to the local Nakhon Pathom Fire Department.

Firefighters arrived at the factory at about 16:40, to find Building One nearly ready to collapse. The fire spread extremely quickly because of the presence of the combustible plastics and fabrics, and reportedly it took less than an hour (only 53 minutes) for Building One to collapse from the time the local police called the fire brigade until 17:14.[3]

Fire alarms in Buildings Two and Three had sounded and all the workers from these buildings were able to escape before the flames spread to these buildings.. However, the fire brigades from Nakhon Pathom and neighboring Bangkok were able to put out the fires located in buildings two and three before the buildings were destroyed.

Aftermath[edit]

Most victims were taken by ambulance to the Sriwichai II Hospital, where 20 of them died. When the northern stairwell of the collapsed building was searched, the bodies of many others were found. These victims died of smoke inhalation, the flames, or the collapse of the building.

The Kader fire created a great deal of interest in the country's fire safety measures, particularly its building code design requirements and enforcement policies. Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, who traveled to the scene on the evening of the fire, pledged that the government would address fire safety issues. According to the Wall Street Journal (1993), Leekpai called for tough action against those who violate the safety laws. Thai Industry Minister Sanan Kachornprasart said that "Factories without fire prevention systems will be ordered to install one, or we will shut them down".

The Wall Street Journal goes on to state that labor leaders, safety experts, and officials say that the Kader Toy Factory fire may help tighten building codes and safety regulations, but they fear that lasting progress is still far off as employers flout rules and governments allow economic growth to take priority over worker safety. Yet another incident occurred two months later at a garment factory where ten females perished because they could not escape a fire due to doors being locked and windows barred shut. [4]

As of March 2012, there is a large housing project of both townhouses and single family homes under construction on the site of the fire, being built by Pruksa, a major developer of residential subdivisions in the Bangkok metropolitan area. Potential home owners are not being informed that the property is the site of this infamous industrial accident, for fear that superstitious Thais will refuse to live there for fear of being haunted by the ghosts of the dead workers who perished in the fire.

Media references[edit]

New Zealand singer-songwriter Don McGlashan released a song about the disaster named Toy Factory Fire, on his 2006 album Warm Hand. The song is narrated from the imagined perspective of a New York-based toy company executive who in the week of the 10th anniversary of the fire, is looking at a number of photographs of the disaster's aftermath. "Here's Bart Simpson with his arms all melted and twisted," he begins. And later: "They said it was a death trap from a text book... Keeping them [the photos] hidden was the best work I ever did."

References[edit]

  1. ^ Symonds, Peter (16 May 2003). "Thai toy factory fire: 10 years after the world's worst industrial inferno". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  2. ^ Haines, Fiona (2003). "Haines, Fiona". Social and Legal Studies. 2(4): 461–487.
  3. ^ Casey Cananaugh Grant. "Ch. 39 / Case Study: The Kader Toy Factory Fire": 3–4. Archived from the original on 11 December 2011. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Senser,, R. A. (1993). "Dragon in the toy factory". Commonweal. 120(17): 11.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)


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