A seven-person team of emergency response experts from around the country will spend the next several months evaluating the reaction to a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people and injured nearly 200 others.
The Titan Corp. will begin its investigation today (June 17), according to Grant Peterson, vice president of Titan for Homeland Security, Planning and Preparedness. Peterson expects the evaluation to last at least four months.
“It’s always a good feeling to be able to look at things like this because this is how we learn,” said Peterson. “It’s the right thing to do when you have the opportunity to look at what you can do to better protect the community.”
Titan is a technology and defense company based in San Diego. Peterson said the branch evaluating the nightclub fire is from Fairfax, Va., but the seven-person team of experts, including fire, police and emergency management officials, will come from across the country.
Peterson and Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Gov. Don Carcieri, said the federal government will pay Titan for its work. Peterson said the cost would depend on the length of the project and wouldn’t estimate a dollar amount.
Titan is the same company that prepared a 200-page report for Arlington County after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
Peterson said his team will collect information from police, fire and other emergency personnel who responded to the Feb. 20 fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., thought to have been started by pyrotechnics used by rock act Great White. Titan will then make recommendations, based on information from the responders.
“We are talking to the full spread of the response community for the purpose of understanding, through their eyes, what went well and why, what was challenging to them and why, and what are the recommendations they would make,” Peterson said.
Neal said the company will interview everyone from first responders to hospital officials and government officials. “The smaller purpose is to figure out how Rhode Island did in reacting to this major event,” Neal said. “The larger purpose is to study lessons that can be applied, not just in Rhode Island, but elsewhere.”
Carcieri said the state handled the nightclub fire “extraordinarily well” but he sees room for improvement.
“It’s like anything else,” Carcieri told WPRI-TV. “If we’re going to make sure we’re well prepared for, God forbid, any other incident or anything that might be terrorist related, let’s just be aware of where we could’ve improved, how we could’ve done things differently.”
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