Organizations that develop building and fire safety codes, standards and practices-and the state and local agencies that adopt them-can improve the fire safety of nightclubs by making specific changes in those codes, according to a draft report released March 3, 2005, by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The report was released at a news conference in Providence, RI, the result of the agency's investifation of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire that killed 100 people at The Station nightclub in W. Warwick, RI.
Recommendations for changes in nightclubs include requiring sprinklers, tighter restrictions on the use of flammable materials in finish products, and improved means of egress in emergencies. Other recommendations address emergency response practices, as well as a call for more research to better understand the way people behave in emergency situations such as fires.
The NIST report identifies three factors that directly contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, the resulting building failure and the large loss of life at The Station nightclub. These are: 1) The hazardous mix of building contents; 2) an inadequate capability to suppress the fire early; and 3) the inability of exits to handle the egress of all of the occupants in the short time available with such a fast-growing fire.
Details about the investigators' findings, the full text of their report and presentation at the news conference, and videos of fire tests conducted by NIST fire experts and of computer models simulating the spread of the fire and temperatures in the nightclub are available at the link here.
Video taken inside the nightclub by WPRI-TV (Providence, RI) and reporting by the Providence Journal assisted the NIST investigation team.
This report was reprinted from the "NIST TechBeat"