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The Disaster and Failure Studies Program provides for the establishment of teams to assess building and infrastructure performance and emergency response and evacuation procedures in the wake of disaster and failure events that have resulted in substantial loss of life or posed significant potential of substantial loss of life.
On June 19, 2007, NIST sent fire experts to Charleston, S.C., to gather information and examine the site of the previous night’s fire and subsequent collapse of a furniture store/warehouse located near the city’s historic district. Nine firefighters were killed in the collapse. The NIST experts worked with local officials and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to learn more about the collapse. Based on that reconnaissance, NIST is beginning a technical study of the June 18, 2007, fire at the Super Sofa Store furniture store/warehouse in Charleston. >> More
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 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. Of the fatalities, 95 were due to the inability of the occupants to evacuate before being overcome by the untenable conditions along the egress path. On Feb. 27, 2003, under the authority of the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) established a National Construction Safety Team to determine the likely technical cause or causes of the building failure that led to the high number of casualties in that fire. >> More