Las Vegas is a popular spot for tourists, gamblers, and even fire protection enthusiasts. Vegas was home to one of the worst fire tragedies in U.S. history and is currently home to some of the most unique fire protection systems in the world.
The fire protection industry has learned a lot from the 1980 MGM Grand Hotel and Casino fire, which resulted in 85 deaths. Of these deaths, only 18 victims were located on the level of the fire origin. Sixty-one victims, located in the high-rise tower attached to the casino, died from carbon monoxide inhalation. One of the many problems which contributed to this catastrophic event was smoke spread. Unprotected vertical openings, substandard stair enclosures, excessive gaps in seismic separation joints, and the HVAC system itself allowed the smoke to spread from the area of origin — a deli located on the ground floor — into the tower. The majority of occupants were located 20 or more stories above the fire floor and died while in their guest rooms or in the corridor. We learned a lot about fire protection as a result of this fire, including the importance of smoke control.