Great White Still Touring South America

When I first heard that 233 people died in a fire in a Brazilian night club, I thought, Wow, I didn’t know Great White even had fans in Brazil. But joking aside, the circumstances in the Brazilian night club sound exactly like the circumstances of Great White’s performance at the Station nightclub at Rhode Island.

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From Yahoo here:

A nightclub fire killed at least 233 people in southern Brazil early on Sunday when a band’s pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked and overcrowded exits in the ensuing panic, officials said.

The blaze in the university town of Santa Maria was ignited by sparks from pyrotechnics used by the band for visual effects. They set fire to soundproofing on the ceiling and the club rapidly filled with toxic smoke, local fire officials said.

Most of those who died were suffocated by fumes- others were crushed in the stampede.

“Smoke filled the place instantly, the heat became unbearable,” survivor Murilo Tiescher, a medical student, told GloboNews TV. “People could not find the only exit. They went to the toilet thinking it was the exit and many died there.”

Fire officials said at least one exit was locked and that club bouncers, who at first thought those fleeing were trying to skip out on bar tabs, initially blocked patrons from leaving. The security staff relented only when they saw flames engulfing the ceiling.

“We ran into a barrier of the dead at the exit,” Colonel Guido Pedroso de Melo, commander of the fire brigade in Rio Grande do Sul, said of the scene that firefighters found on arrival. “We had to clear a path to get to the rest of those that were inside.”

The disaster recalls other incidents including a 2003 fire at a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, that killed 100 people and a Buenos Aires nightclub blaze in 2004 that killed nearly 200. In both incidents, a band or members of the audience ignited fires that set the establishment ablaze.

So lets make the comparisons between these two tragedies in the hopes we can give people a checklist of circumstances to avoid in the future. If you are going to see a band at a venue, leave immediately if you get 7 or more of these checkmarks on your scorecard.

  • Shitty Band that features pyrotechnics
  • Club Ceiling is less that 12 feet tall
  • Bar is Packed- Takes more than 10 minutes to get a beer
  • There are less than 4 exits in the building
  • All exits involve climbing at least one flight of stairs
  • Exits Get Blocked Routinely to prevent line jumpers or dine and dashers
  • Exits Aren’t Clearly Marked
  • There is no sprinkler system
  • Fire extinguishers are only stored in the Kitchen
  • Ceiling utilizes drop tiles or foam for insulation and sound proofing

Fire laws and occupancy laws exist for a reason.  Whenever I’m out in a public venue, I get really pissy if stuff is blocking the exits like a bulky hostess stand, or extra chairs leaning against a wall.  Some dive bars you go to use the emergency exit hallways to store used kegs, paper products or old gear.  Each of these would contribute to deaths if a fire were to break out.  Never trust a restaurant or club to conduct fire safety drills and inspections.  Be your own inspector when you go to a venue.  Always plan your first and second way out.  Fires, mass shootings or stampedes could strike at any time.

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