Do you know who Carl Prinzler was?  Does the name ring a bell?  Carl worked in the door hardware industry back in the early 20th century, and was instrumental in developing the first exit device along with his employer, Vonnegut Hardware Company and his neighbor, Henry DuPont.  Recently Peter Wilson of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies came across a poem by Misha Burnett called The Ballad of Carl Prinzler, and sent me the link.  I couldn’t imagine who (besides me) would write a poem about Carl Prinzler, so I emailed Misha.  He is a university locksmith and while taking a poetry class he also attended a Von Duprin training class and learned about the invention of the first panic hardware after the tragic fire at the Iroquois Theater, which inspired him to write the Ballad of Carl Prinzler.

With Misha’s permission…

The Ballad Of Carl Prinzler

Carl Prinzler planned to brave the snow
To the Iroquois Theater to see the show
Just after Christmas in Nineteen Ought Three
But something came up and he couldn’t go

The house was packed, two thousand all told
Had come to see Mr. Bluebeard unfold
An afternoon of light entertainment
And a short respite from the Illinois cold

But somewhere between a dance and a joke
An old piece of wire in the arc lighting broke
Fire spread like lightning throughout the assembled
And six hundred souls breathed their last breath of smoke

Six hundred souls breathed their last–even more
Some bodies were crushed into puddles of gore
Stacked at the exits like cord wood for burning
The weight of their panic had sealed every door

The theater owners were concerned with the crowd
No moving from seat to seat was allowed
“These gates will prevent any untoward co-mingling
Of the unwashed with the high ticket holders,” they vowed

The Iroquois lobby was worth talking about
The entrances were grand, gilded, and stout
Getting the audience in was their business
They didn’t much care how the people got out

On the theater owners the good mayor got rough
He closed them all down and talked very tough
Chicago mourned with a memorial vigil
Carl Prinzler decided that wasn’t enough

A man in builder’s hardware by trade
He knew something about how buildings were made
He also knew he could not shake the vision
Of six hundred gravesides where small wreathes were laid

Henry DuPont was a designer of fame
Carl knew him from the hardware store game
Mr. Vonnegut provided the marketing know-how
The three men conspired to save people from flame

Carl Prinzler isn’t a name that you knew
He’s only recalled by a limited few
I thought of how many owe their lives to this man
And figured this song is the least I could do


Three of our national trainers - Leon Starks, Roger Yost, and Jeff Tock.

Three of our national trainers – Leon Starks, Roger Yost, and Jeff Tock.

If you’re looking for poetic inspiration, or training on products manufactured by Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, our training team conducts classes at sites across the Americas and at our manufacturing facilities.  Classes may cover specific products (ie. LCN Closers and Automatic Operators, Schlage ND-Series Cylindrical and L-Series Mortise Locks, Von Duprin Exits, Steelcraft Hollow Metal Doors and Frames, and Schlage AD-Series and CO-Series Electronic Locks) or more general courses such as Preparing for Fire Door Inspections, Master Keying, Cylinder Servicing, and How to Conduct a Keying Conference.

To find out if a national trainer will be in your neighborhood, contact your local Ingersoll Rand representative or check out our calendar at  We also offer some free online courses which are available at  Course titles range from “Speaking the Language of Electricity in Service” to “It’s More than a Door: Delayed Egress.”   One of our online courses, “AIA: Today’s Choices in Access Control,” provides CEU’s for AIA members.  How-to videos can be found via our YouTube channel at  For example, if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to install a frame in a masonry or steel stud wall, check out our Steelcraft videos on this channel.  Our training team is always looking for ways to make our customers’ jobs easier by helping them through the learning curve.  Let us know how we can help you!

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.