News accounts are reporting that more than 200 people have died in an early morning fire in a nightclub in southern Brazil. According to CNN, at least 245 people were killed in the Kiss Nightclub in Santa Maria.
News reports are comparing the Kiss nightclub fire to the 2003 fire at The Station nightclub in W. Warwick, RI, on February 20, 2003 that claimed 100 lives. Prior to the Kiss nightclub, the Station Nightclub was the fourth-deadliest public assembly and nightclub fire in U.S. history. Five of these fires were in nightclubs. Since that fire, NFPA has enacted tough new code provisions for fire sprinklers and crowd management in nightclub-type venues. Those provisions mark sweeping changes to the codes and standards governing safety in assembly occupancies.
Deadliest public assembly and nightclub fires
NFPA also offers safety tips for the public when in an assembly occupancy.
Before you enter
- Take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a condition that makes you feel comfortable? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials stored against the building or blocking exits?
- Have a communication plan
Identify a relative or friend to contact in case of emergency and you are separated from family or friends.
- Plan a meeting place
Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function. If there is an emergency, be sure to meet them there.
When you enter
- Locate exits immediately
When you enter a building you should look for all available exits. Some exits may be in front and some in back of you. Be prepared to use your closest exit. You may not be able to use the main exit.
- Check for clear exit paths
Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained. If there are not at least two exits or exit paths are blocked, report the violation to management and leave the building if it is not immediately addressed. Call the local fire marshal to register a complaint.
- Do you feel safe?
Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there fire sources such as candles burning, cigarettes or cigars burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place such as alternative exits, sprinklers, and smoke alarms? Ask the management for clarification on your concerns. If you do not feel safe in the building, leave immediately.
During an emergency
- React immediately
If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or other unusual disturbance immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion.
- Get out, stay out!
Once you have escaped, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operations.