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Friday, February 20, 2015

History: The Station Nightclub Fire 2-20-2003 Lesson Learned - Have an Exit Strategy

The Station Nightclub Fire On February 20, 2003, 100 club-goers died when a fire broke out in The Station nightclub in Rhode Island.

Illegal Pyrotechnics from the band on stage ignited nearby walls and ceilings and the fire spread rapidly. 400-plus individuals in attendance turned and started for the main entrance. But the intensity of the flames and smoke caused the crowd to panic and surge forward, everyone pushing for the front door. Individuals fell, causing others to fall and, in less than 90 seconds, the front exit door was blocked

The Station nightclub fire was the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, killing 100 people. The fire began at 11:07 PM EST, on Thursday, February 20, 2003, at The Station, a glam metal and rock and roll-themed nightclub located at 211 Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick, Rhode Island.

The Station Nightclub Fire Video

Lessons learned resources: 
1.) Computer Video Simulation - Simulation of the Rhode Island nightclub fire using building EXODUS V4.0 and SMARTFIRE V4.1 -
2.) NIST Re-creation of "The Station Night Club fire" without sprinklers
3.) Surviving the Station Nightclub Fire - National Fire Protection AssociationTen years ago, fire consumed the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode island. One hundred people died in the fire, making it "the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in American history." In this video, Station nightclub fire survivor Robert Feeney.talks about his experience the night of the fire and how it later led to his work as a sprinkler advocate.
4.) The Station Night Club Fire (Clear Audio) -
5.) The Station nightclub fire (February 20, 2003) A Study -

The Station Nightclub Fire Floor Plan

On Thursday, February 20, 2003, The Station nightclub was hosting a show with several bands, including a headlining act, the popular rock act Great White. The show was promoted heavily and a large crowd was expected.

At approximately 11:07 p.m., the headlining act took the stage (NFPA 2006). A few seconds into the act, pyrotechnic “gerbs” – which are designed to emit a fountain of sparks – were ignited by a stagehand (NFPA 2004). The sparks emanating from the gerbs ignited the highly combustible polyurethane sound-proofing foam covering the platform’s walls (Keith 2008).

Within 9 seconds, flames were visible on the walls on either side of the platform. For the following several seconds, the band seemed unaware of the open flames and the crowd assumed the flames were part of the performance. The fire quickly spread to engulf much of the platform’s walls, prompting the crowd to start reacting. Approximately 30 seconds after ignition, flames had reached the ceiling, the band had stopped playing and left the platform, and the crowd began its frantic attempt to exit the building (NFPA 2006).

The majority of the club’s patrons attempted to exit the building where they entered – the front doors. Fire alarms were audible at 48 seconds after ignition. After just 75 seconds, smoke reached the ceiling throughout the room and began drifting out the entrances. Widespread panic was not yet evident but egress through the front doors had slowed considerably (NFPA 2006).

At this point in the video, the cameraman exited through the front doors and began circling the building. After 1 minute and 40 seconds had elapsed from time of ignition, heavy black smoke billows out all openings of the building, as patrons use both windows and doors to escape. Seconds later, with heavy smoke now pouring out of the building and fire alarms no longer audible from the outside, patrons desperately attempting to escape began to pile up inside the front doors (NFPA 2006).

At 4 minutes and 30 seconds from ignition, bright orange flames were seen deep within the building, as sirens sounded in the background. Approximately 1 minute and 30 seconds later, flames as tall as the building rose out every window and door. In the 6 minutes from time of ignition, the entire facility was engulfed in flames (NFPA 2006).

Because it was a high-casualty fire caused by illegal indoor usage of outdoor fireworks, the 2003 disaster bore similarities to the 2004 República Cromañón nightclub fire in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the 2008 Wuwang Club fire in Shenzhen, China; the 2009 Santika Club fire in Watthana, Bangkok, Thailand (cause is disputed); the 2009 Lame Horse fire in Perm, Russia; and the 2013 Kiss nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil.

Some text from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Image: NY DailyNews:

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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