Fire In Moscow
makes me sad and hits home:
A fire at a university dormitory in Moscow has killed at least 28 people, many of them foreign students.
The fire broke out in the middle of the night, when most of the students inside the five-story dormitory were asleep.
[F]ires are increasingly common in many older, Soviet-era buildings, because of a lack of funds for proper maintenance and safety equipment. As a result, Russia has a high rate of deaths from fire.
I spent 3 months in Moscow in 1990, and lived in an obschyezhitiye
* on Profsoyuznaya ulitsa
(Trade Union street) while I attended the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys (I learned nothing about steel or alloys, just Russian). The building had 10 stories, IIRC, and I lived on the 5th floor.
Even back then the place was pretty decrepit. For example, our room lacked hot water for almost the entire summer, as the pipes that fed our column of rooms, for lack of a better expression, were broken. My 3 roomies and I would shower next door, where the hot (or more correctly, lukewarm) water mostly worked. Overall it was a pretty rundown building, but what dorm is a palace? While I never worried about it, I didn't ever quite feel like it was the safest building in the world.
Anyway, it's scary to think what might have happened to me and my friends had a fire occurred. The Soviets, and today the Russians, don't have the same dedication to safety that we do here in the US. While we obviously will always have our share of accidents and disasters, I think about how much worse things would be if we didn't have a government that creates and enforces building codes and other protective measures. An argument for not getting on the "deregulate everything" bandwagon BushCo and friends love so much.
* I guess more of a hostel than a dorm per se
, with mostly students but some non-students as well. And please forgive the poor transliteration.