Previously published in Examiner on Jan 27, 2013
One of the top news articles trending around the world today is the nightclub fire in Brazil. According to NKH World published today, 245 people died in that nightclub fire in Santa Maria City in the south of Brazil. The local media estimates nearly 2,000 people were in the club at the time. The band that was playing was using pyrotechnics at the time the fire broke out. The police suspect the fire broke out on the stage.
I feel this event was tragic but could have been avoided. There are fire safety codes to adhere to and this nightclub broke at least one of them when they allowed too many people into the club.
NKH World goes on to say, “Many university students and others inside the club panicked and rushed to the exit when the fire broke out and smoke filled the room.” Approximately 50 people were injured and were rushed to the hospital for treatment.
The latest report from News4Jax reveals the club went overcapacity. The Kiss nightclub could only hold 1,000 people according to the safety code. Most of the deaths were caused by smoke inhalation but many people were trampled while the frantic crowd rushed to the exits.
Guido de Melo, a state fire official said, “This overcrowding made it difficult for people to leave, and according to the information we have, the security guards kept people from leaving the building.”
Why on earth would the guards stop people from leaving a burning building? I just can’t see any logic in that.
Max Mueller who was driving by at the time of the fire said, “Smoke billowed outside the front of the building as the stench of fire filled the air. Muller recorded a video of a chaotic scene outside the club, which showed emergency crews tending to victims and dazed club goers standing in the street. Bodies lay on the ground beside ambulances.”
According to Robert F. Duval, Senior Fire Investigator, National Fire Protection Association, most fires are attributed to combustible interior finish, overcrowding, and problems with egress. Search Networking explains the word egress to mean going out. In this case it would mean a system to put out fire or smoke.
Fires in public places are not a new phenomenon. Traditionally fires started in movie theaters throughout the 19th century. “Common contributing factors in these fires were lighting (candles, gas lamps, or electric stage lights) igniting combustible materials on or near the stage; inadequate, blocked/locked, or poorly designed egress systems; and combustible interior finish.”
Robert F. Duval cites several nightclub fires in his paper, “NFPA Case Study: Nightclub Fires.” The Brazilian nightclub did not adhere to proper fire safety codes. We know the club was over-capacitated. The authorities may find more code violations as the investigation processes.
I feel this is a case of the club owners looking for profit before safety. It appears that some businesses will put money ahead of human lives.
Update since original posting
According to theStar.com, inspector “Marcelo Arigony told reporters at a news conference Tuesday that members of the band knowingly purchased flares meant for outdoor use because they cost a mere $1.25 each, compared with the $35 price tag for an indoor flare.”
“The flare lit was for outdoor use only, and the people who lit them know that,” said Arigony. “They chose to buy those because they were cheaper than those that can be used indoors.”
CNN reported, “Police arrested four people Monday in connection with a nightclub fire that killed 231 people in southern Brazil, CNN affiliate BandNews reported. Two are club owners and the other two members of the band that was performing. The detainees will be held initially for five days while authorities investigate Sunday’s blaze in the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, according to Marcos Viana, a police official who spoke with state-run Agencia Brasil. The five-day period can be extended for five more days, the news agency said.”