2004
Volume 132, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

Abstract

This article examines how the fire in the Innovation department store in Brussels (1967) influenced the politics of risk management in Belgium. I rely on the frameworks of disaster and risk studies and a historical focus on temporality and actors. The Innovation fire was a decisive part of a longer political and societal process within Belgium’s risk community. After the disaster, political changes occurred in the domains of fire prevention regulation, coordination of first aid organisations, and local traffic regulation. In addition, the catastrophe provided an opportunity for Brussels’ city planners. The perception of the fire as a national disaster, abundant media coverage, and a public debate on the risks of long-term modernisation made the catastrophe an opportunity for change. However, many regulatory changes had already been instigated, making the disaster an accelerator rather than a cause of change. Four actors who set the agenda and implemented the new legislation are identified: politicians, journalists, experts, and insurance companies. In sum, it is argued that the Innovation disaster is a model case study for both disaster research and political history.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Brussels; disaster; fire; Innovation; risk; risk prevention
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