Gov't Issues Nightclub Safety Recommendations

Report follows Great White tragedy.

In an effort to improve nightclub safety following the Feb. 20, 2003, fire that killed 100 people during a Great White concert, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a 600-page draft report that includes 12 recommendations for venues.

The NIST spent two years studying the Great White tragedy, which occurred at the Station club in West Warwick, R.I. The agency says the goal of the report, rather than to place blame, is to "recommend improvements in the way people design, construct, maintain and use buildings to increase both occupant safety and structural integrity."

Among the agency's recommendations for all nightclubs are the installation of sprinkler systems, restrictions on the use of flammable materials and better exits so people can get out of buildings during emergencies.

According to an NIST statement, three factors played primary roles in the Great White tragedy: a hazardous mix of building contents, an inability to suppress the fire early, and exits that could not accommodate the large group of people trying to get out quickly.

Several states, including Rhode Island, have instituted changes in codes in the wake of the tragedy.

NIST officials will discuss the draft report with some of the 200 people injured in the Great White fire, as well as family members of those killed. The public will have until April 4 to offer input before the report is complete.


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