On June 5, 2009 a devastating fire occurred in the ABC Day Care Facility in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico while most of the 142 children were taking their afternoon nap. This was a federally funded, privately operated facility, in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, a city of about 700,000 people. Forty-nine (49) children died from the fire as a result of smoke inhalation and/or burns.
The Supreme Court of Justice (Mexico) contracted with the Consolidated Consultants Company to investigate the fire. The McMullen Company conducted the investigation to determine the cause, origin and spread of the fire within the building complex. In addition, the investigation incorporated many other aspects, including an analysis of the fire safety codes and standards pertaining to use, as well as life safety features of the building complex. The investigation focused on the cause, origin, and spread of the fire, and the requirements of the applicable National, State and City Codes, Regulations and Standards to conditions in the building complex involved in the fire.
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The large life loss raised doubts about the safety standards at more than 1,500 day care centers where the Mexican government funds low cost care for over 200,000 children between the ages of 49 days and 4 years old. The findings were that the fire occurred and spread extremely fast due to failure of compliance with fire and life safety codes and regulations as adopted by the city of Hermosillo and State of Sonora. The final report provided a number of recommendations to avert future catastrophes due to fire in these federally-licensed daycare centers.
A team of four forensic experts and two translators traveled to Hermosillo, Mexico to conduct the fire investigation and life safety analysis. Upon our arrival we found that the fire scene had been secured and under 24 hour/day armed police protection. In addition to conducting the fire investigation there were other considerations. This was a very emotional assignment due to the loss of so many young children and the outrage this created in the community. This required meetings with advocates, parents and the news media to inform them of our investigation and how we would proceed. We coordinated with state and local police for the security of our team.
Upon our return to the United States a final report was produced. As the project manager I oversaw the analysis, review, and summary of our findings, laboratory analysis of samples, and code and regulation review which were used in the final report. A technical writer was utilized to assembly the final report.
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