PROVIDENCE, R.I.— The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today called on the organizations that develop building and fire safety codes, standards and practices—and the state and local agencies that adopt them—to make specific changes to improve the fire safety of nightclubs as a result of the agency's investigation of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub in W. Warwick, R.I.
Recommendations for changes in nightclubs include requiring sprinklers, tighter restrictions of the use of flammable materials in finish products, and improved means of egress in emergencies. Other recommendations address emergency preparedness and response practices as well as a call for more research to better understand the way people behave in emergency situations such as fires.
All 12 recommendations, contained within the draft report released today for public comment at a press briefing in Providence, are based on the findings of the NIST investigation into the fire that claimed 100 lives. To prevent additional deaths, injuries and property loss in the future, the recommendations call for:
Details on these recommendations are found in the accompanying fact sheet.
The NIST report identifies three factors that directly contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, the resulting building failure and the large loss of life at The Station nightclub. These are: (1) the hazardous mix of building contents; (2) an inadequate capability to suppress the fire early; and (3) the inability of exits to handle the egress of all of the occupants in the short time available with such a fast-growing fire.
Key findings in these three areas are detailed in the accompanying fact sheet.
Video taken inside the nightclub by WPRI-TV (Providence, R.I.) and reporting by the Providence Journal assisted the NIST investigation team.
NIST welcomes comments on the report, available at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/ncst.htm#draft_report, which are received by April 4, 2005. (Comment deadline extended to 5 p.m. EDT April 12, 2005.) Comments may be sent via surface mail to The Station Investigation, NIST, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8660, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8660; via fax to (301) 975-4052; or via e-mail to ncst [at] nist.gov.
NIST's investigation of The Station nightclub fire, begun on Feb. 27, 2003, was conducted under the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act. The act gives NIST the responsibility for conducting fact-finding investigations of building-related failures that result in substantial loss of life. NIST has no regulatory authority under the NCST Act.
The primary objectives of the NIST Rhode Island nightclub fire investigation were to:
As an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST develops and promotes measurement, standards and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade and improve the quality of life.