Station Nightclub Fire

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Robert A
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Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:13 pm

Hey guys.
Today I had my very first Fire Safety Hazards Recognition class at OSU, and the prof showed us this video of the Station Nightclub Fire, an event in West Warwick, RI, which resulted in about 100 casualties and 200 injuries. Below is a video and my thoughts on this tragedy.
Warning: The content in the video is incredibly graphic. I will understand if a moderator chooses to have it removed. Please be aware that this is for educational purposes only. Viewer discretion is advised.

So at the beginning of the event, you can see pyrotechnics ignite the stage. The club was insulated with a flammable polyurethane foam, which only worsened the situation as time went on. The building was not sprinklered, so the fire quickly got out of hand. The fire alarm activates about thirty seconds into the event (twenty-five seconds too late). Since the building was densely crowded, and because human habits dictate we exit the way we entered, the front exit was too crowded to evacuate everyone safely. You can see as the video goes on that people began to break windows in an attempt to evacuate. According to a NIST report written after the event,
A fire occurred on the night of Feb. 20, 2003, in The Station nightclub at 211 Cowesett Avenue, West
Warwick, Rhode Island. A band that was on the platform that night, during its performance, used
pyrotechnics that ignited polyurethane foam insulation lining the walls and ceiling of the platform. The
fire spread quickly along the walls and ceiling area over the dance floor. Smoke was visible in the exit
doorways in a little more than one minute, and flames were observed breaking through a portion of the
roof in less than five minutes. Egress from the nightclub, which was not equipped with sprinklers, was
hampered by crowding at the main entrance to the building. One hundred people lost their lives in the
fire.
At its peak, temperatures climbed to about 1000 degrees Celsius (1832 degrees Fahrenheit) and black smoke filled the club; a veritable death trap. Below are two re-creations. One simulates the actual fire and smoke spread in a non-sprinklered building, and another demonstrates what could have happened had the building been properly sprinklered.


If you want to read the full report, I'll provide a link to it.
In conclusion, this is the reason why building sprinkler codes are so heavily enforced, or ought to be heavily enforced.
I apologize if this video shocked some of you, but I feel like a community like this needs to know why these systems are so important, why they absolutely need to work if and when the time comes.
Thank you for understanding.
Robert Aslin
My YouTube Channel | Aslin Fire Safety
If you need to contact me for any reason, you may email me at aslinrobert15(at)gmail.com.
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nightfly287
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Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:53 pm

Some other things I know about The Station Nightclub Fire:
  • Because of this, every fire alarm system I have seen in Rhode Island is addressable and has fire sprinklers. I believe it may actually be in the code to have both of these things in every installation.
  • The camera operator worked for our local FOX affiliate WPRI-TV and was coincidentally doing a report on lack of emergency exits and high occupancy (seen in this video; notice the shot of the exit sign at 4:11). He was also sued for slowing down the evacuation effort (seen around 1:05 in the main video you posted).
  • One of my teachers was an audio technician at the concert, and obviously lived to tell the tale (although most of his friends in attendance died).
  • The last time I checked, the property where The Station was located is still vacant, and a makeshift memorial exists.
In conclusion, this was a terrible turn of events caused by pure stupidity. However, Rhode Island and the rest of the nation should not have waited for something like this to occur before strengthening sprinkler laws. We know a fire like this is going to happen again somewhere in the future, so we should be prepared with sprinklers to make it less fatal.
nightfly287 -- Director of Sarcasm
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Robert A
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Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:01 pm

Money should not be a concern when it comes to fire safety. If your fire protection systems do their job, they pay for themselves. I honestly think this video and others like it should be required viewing for building owners looking for fire protection solutions, especially if they feel the way that building owner did about sprinkler systems,
Robert Aslin
My YouTube Channel | Aslin Fire Safety
If you need to contact me for any reason, you may email me at aslinrobert15(at)gmail.com.
chris+s
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Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:19 pm

Everythings driven by tragic accidents.

Ever wonder why that bad smell is added to gas? 295 kids died in at a school in Texas.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Londo ... _explosion

Ever wonder why we have mandated fire drills? 95 elementary age students died in Chicago.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_ ... chool_fire

I'm sure you'll be studying the above one at some point Robert. the amount of code violations (even in the 50's) is stunning. Open stairwells, open attics, no fire doors, etc.
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ccs46
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Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:52 am

Robert A wrote:.
Yep, The Station Nightclub Fire, we had to watch that video last year for Introductory of Fire Safety in 9th Grade.
Chris Sprague - Overseer of Sarcasm
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Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:17 pm

Definitely hard to watch. FA wise it's commonly believed the alarm you hear/see is a vertical AS. I think someone who is/was on here was there once and saw it. You can even hear the alarm "die" in the video, quite sad. BUT I have my priorities! That alarm can be replaced, those 100 people cannot.
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nightfly287
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:21 am

Fire Alarm Fan wrote:You can even hear the alarm "die" in the video, quite sad.
The alarm didn't die. The fire ate away at the walls, destroying the electrical and fire alarm wiring. That's why you can hear it shut off and come on for a second; the wires were coming apart, and eventually disconnected completely.
chris+s
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:07 am

Firefly wrote:That's crazy to think it didn't have attic protection. I guess codes must be different in whatever state that's in. All new buildings with wood frame construction here get attic protection at that level, and "above and below" protection in the ceilings. When you have a combustible space like that, it makes absolutely no sense why you would protect below it, but not above or in it.
I did the fire alarm in a wood frame 4 story hotel recently where sprinklers weren't required in the attic because they put in over a dozen draft stops limiting spaces to under 3,000 S.F. Apparently a limited concealed space in an attic doesn't require coverage per the NFPA 13, but I'm no expert on that code. Something for you to look around for if you get bored I guess.

I thought the IBC requires the under 3,000 S.F. space division via firestops on all combustible construction though.
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U8oL0
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:13 pm

The Iroquois Theatre fire is also worth reading about I think. It was the deadliest single-building fire in the United States to date. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroquois_Theatre_fire
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ccs46
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 5:11 pm

U8oL0 wrote:The Iroquois Theatre fire is also worth reading about I think. It was the deadliest single-building fire in the United States to date. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroquois_Theatre_fire
I don't believe fire sprinklers were around back then, were they?
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Fri Aug 21, 2015 5:33 pm

U8oL0 wrote:The Iroquois Theatre fire is also worth reading about I think. It was the deadliest single-building fire in the United States to date. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroquois_Theatre_fire
Chicago has a bad past with fire it seems.
ccs46 wrote:
U8oL0 wrote:The Iroquois Theatre fire is also worth reading about I think. It was the deadliest single-building fire in the United States to date. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroquois_Theatre_fire
I don't believe fire sprinklers were around back then, were they?
They were around loooong before then, but they weren't installed in public places. normally factories and the like to protect property though, not life.

the NFPA was founded in the very late 1800's and took awhile to develop codes worthwhile and really gain traction. before that, there were no real codes anywhere.
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