Nightclub Fire Strikes in Brazil

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In a nightclub that lacks alarms, sprinklers, and fire escapes, danger is just around the corner. Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil’s southernmost state, proves this point. This past January, over 240 people were killed in a fire that was allegedly caused by a band’s use of pyrotechnics. Two thousand college students—over twice the club’s legal capacity—were celebrating the end of summer when the tragic event struck. The night began with drinks and dancing buttopped off with hundreds of young adults scrambling to the exit and trampling to their deaths.

Police officials arrested two club owners and two members of the band after the incident. Rescue workers had to tear down the once lively club walls to reach the survivors and get to the bodies. A Brazilian government official quoted in CNN said nightclub Kiss failed to abide by public safety rules and regulations, turning an emergency situation into a deadly tragedy. When the fire began, security guards were preventing people from exiting the overcrowded club—under the assumption the guests had not yet paid their tabs.

Brazil may be over four thousand miles away, but college-age students here in the U.S are rethinking their weekend plans after hearing about the fire. “I usually go to bars on Saturday nights. I never really thought about the possibility of a fire starting there,” says Emily Asher, Architecture student at NYIT. “I’m definitely going to be more cautious now. If it gets too crowded, I’ll get my friends to leave with me and go somewhere else.”

Robert Solomon, National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) division manager of Building & Life Safety Codessays, “If it feels too crowded, then it is, and you should avoid it…Don’t try to put out the fire. Get out and leave the emergency response to the crowd managers on staff.”

The answer to this tragedy is not necessarily to stop clubbing. There are ways to protect yourself in the event of a public fire. The NY Fire Safety Institute (NYFSI) is an accredited organization that teaches Fire Safety Director and Emergency Action Plan Director courses. Michael Dugan, Instructor for NYFSI offers helpful tips to staying safe in emergency situations:

 

  • When going to an unfamiliar restaurant, always look around at how you came in and where all the exits are. Reaching for an alternative exit could save your life; everyone scrambles to the nearest exit, which ultimately leads to chaos. Protect yourself by breaking away from the crowd.
  • Keep your body low in the event of a fire; temperatures near the floor could be up to 1,000 degrees cooler—which will buy you more time.
  • Look up for sprinkler heads and be cautious if there aren’t any.

Whether going to the clubs on a Saturday night or simply out to dinner, always be aware of your surroundings. You never know when disaster will strike, but take notice of the nearest exits and leave if the place is overcrowded—it could save your life.

 

 

 

 

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