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,
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.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
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.