Tragedy in Brazil - Review your crowd safety planning now
The tragic fire at a Brazilian nightclub this past Sunday is a reason for you to review your venue's crowd safety planning immediately. Below are resources for venue owners to learn more as well as an overview of John Barylick's book 'Killer Show'.
Tragedy in Brazil
The situation is very fluid as of this writing, but according to CNN, 233 people have died, and hundreds more have been injured, in a fire at a nightclub in Stanta Maria Brazil. Intial reports say that the venue only had one emergency exit which became blocked as patrons frantically tried to escape the blaze.
2,000 people were inside the club when the fire broke out -- double the maximum capacity of 1,000, said Guido de Melo, a state fire official. Investigators have received preliminary information that security guards stopped people from exiting the club, he told Globo TV. "People who were inside the facility informed us that security guards blocked the exit to prevent people there from leaving, and that's when the crowd starting panicking, and the tragedy grew worse," he said.
Authorities in Santa Maria have been investigating the fire and interviewing patrons not taken to area hospitals. Purportedly, the nightclub owners, as well as members of the band performing at the time of the fire, have been arrested.
The CNN report also says "authorities [have] stopped short of blaming pyrotechnics for the blaze."
Author John Barylick
Just a few weeks ago, attorney and author John Barylick concluded his book tour for 'Killer Show'. Barylick's book is an investigation into the Station nightclub fire which was caused by on-stage pyrotechnics.
If your venue allows for on-stage pyrotechnics, you are strongly encouraged to read Barylick's book.
On February 20, 2003, the deadliest rock concert in U.S. history took place at a roadhouse called The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. That night, in the few minutes it takes to play a hard-rock standard, the fate of many of the unsuspecting nightclub patrons was determined with awful certainty. The blaze was ignited when pyrotechnics set off by Great White, a 1980s heavy-metal band, lit flammable polyurethane "egg crate" foam sound insulation on the club's walls. In less than 10 minutes, 96 people were dead and 200 more were injured, many catastrophically.
The story of the fire, its causes, and its legal and human aftermath is one of lives put at risk by petty economic decisions by a band, club owners, promoters, building inspectors, and product manufacturers. Any one of those decisions, made differently, might have averted the tragedy. Together, however, they reached a fatal critical mass.
Gain From Our Experience
From the ThunderTix 'Crowd Management' white paper:
Perform Fire Drill Walk Through
Crowd management situations involving fires, nothing can be more life saving than a well established fire drill policy. Conducting a walk-through of the inside of your venue with Fire Department officials can help you identify any potential hazards or problem areas. Use their experience to ensure lanes to exit doors are unblocked, doors are unlocked, lighted exit signs are clearly visible from every spot inside the venue, and whether flammable materials are present.
Decisions on Open Fires
For any outdoor entertainment–especially those that offer on-site camping, you will want to learn local fire codes with respect to open campfires or barbecue pits. Regardless of local laws, venues are still responsible for the safety of their guests, so make sure you share crowd size, demographics, or any other factors that may affect the decision to allow open flames, and make your decisions in concert with local fire officials.
The safety of your patrons is both a moral imperative and a business critical obligation. No matter how busy a venue owner may be, nothing is more important than crowd safety planning. The tragic event in Brazil is reason to schedule a fire safety audit now.