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In Laura Brahm’s “Cafe Metro” article (5/28), Metro PR person Linda Farbstein—and all the printed reader responses—missed the point that the prohibition of food and drink consumption on Metro property is a fire-safety measure. The system is run by electricity—through electrical and electronic switch-gear—which produces heat. Coffee cups and greasy french fry wrappers drift up around this equipment and provide a source of fuel. With enough heat and enough fuel, you could have an underground fire, which would logically result in passengers being inconvenienced or even killed. During the flap over French Fry Girl several months ago, the whole event was cast as either an etiquette violation or a threat to the upholstery. The fire risk was never mentioned, not even by Metro’s Farbstein.
In 1987, 31 people died in London’s King’s Cross underground station in a fire that informationblast.com describes as “caused by rubbish beneath wooden escalators being ignited, thought to be caused by a dropped cigarette.” Although the D.C. Metro does not have wooden escalators and does not allow smoking, all the paper coffee cups and food wrappers nestled around the equipment will certainly make a contribution to a fire disaster in the future.
I suggest that you follow up with the Metro fire-safety office and ask about the food trash + switch-gear heat = underground fire scenario.