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Safety in nightclubs

In the wake of last night's fatal fire at a Rhode Island nightclub and a stampede earlier this week at a Chicago venue, safety measures at clubs nationwide will likely be reevaluated. What measures should be taken in Boston to ensure the safety of its nightspots? What lessons can be learned -- by venue owners and concertgoers alike -- in terms of safety at clubs? .

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Page 28

I dont know what to think of all this craziness, back in the 60s we used to go out, and get all torn up, but we were always in control. This nonsense has got to stop, with the drinking and drugs, the fights, stampedes, fires. Dont we have enough problems already with those filthy terrorists.

Jim, Amherst

This terrible tragedy I hope will teach us valuable lessons in fire prevention and safety. It is shocking for me to learn that the club had no sprinkler system. This is outrageous, and someone should "take the heat" for this deadly oversight. In the quest to maximize profits, club owners continually oversell shows, refuse proper fire prevention mechanisms, do not create suitable egresses for emergencies and in general do not seem to care about their patrons whatsoever. Many clubs do not have adequate ventilation, sprinkler systems, large enough exits (that are well-lit) and are basically death traps waiting for their next victims. Ventilation systems should be able to also evacuate deadly smoke at the same time as sprinklers activate. Heat is one deadly result of fire, but the smoke inhalation will kill much faster, as people are blinded and asphyxiated from toxic fumes. The no-smoking bans that go into effect will help alleviate the risk of fire and certainly help with the air quality inside clubs. However, much stricter regulations are needed with regards to fire control systems, proper building design, ready access to fire extinguishers, proper lighting and to fine clubs heavily for oversellling. Club owners tend to be tremendously wealthy, and in the quest to make a quick buck, protecting the lives of the patrons is often the last thing on owners' minds. I have frequently complained about poor ventilation, overcrowding and other problems at clubs, which often bring considerable animosity from bouncers, managers and bartenders who all insist that it's "not my job" and tell me to leave them alone or be kicked out. This is inexcusably disgusting behavior and this lack of compassion for one's fellow humans is what invites disaster. I hope for the sake of everyone that fire codes are more strictly enforced and all clubs put in sprinkler systems and extra fire exits to help avoid this kind of lethal catastrophe. It's hard to learn a lesson when club owners don't really care. Only by fining them and enforcing stricter laws will patrons have increased safety at the various frequented nightspots in any city. -Phrazz

Phrazz, Boston

I have an issue with the sprinklers. The code states because of size it was not required. Size of the building should not matter. Any public building should have them expcially when you have a large number of people in one small area sprinklers should be enforced. I think the fatalities would have been a lot lower even though people did not handle the situation in a calm matter and panic by leaving all at once at the same door. Also they should ban having pyrotechnics of any kind in an enclosed area. It is not necessary to enhance a concert. True fans go to a concert to hear the music not to see fireworks. Save that for the fourth of July.

Evelyn, Walpole, MA

I'm a pro musician who has played in a hundred different clubs all throughout New England. I've played in dives and upscale large clubs. The way I see it, there's a lot of people to blame in this scenario. 1) Obviously, laws need to be changed. Any public venue that holds that many people regardless of size should have sprinklers installed. It should be mandatory. There are so many little clubs that are always over capacity that are death traps waiting to happen. Ever been to a packed show at the Middle east downstairs? You can't get out and up the stairs out of that place in the best of circumstances. I don't go there anymore, it's a death trap waiting to happen. 2) Club owners, and people in the music biz are always looking for a way to get around regulations and laws and save money. The constantly break the rules on everything. It's a cash biz and these people are all about taking advantage of every situation and stuffing the money in a mattress. Is this stereotyping? Yes. Is it accurate in most instances? Yes. Do I think anyone in a club wants people to be seriously hurt? Of course not, BUT if you've ever worked in a bar or played in one, you'll understand exactly what I mean. 3) Great White and their management should (and will) be sued for countless millions. Yes, the club owners may be partially to blame. But it's obvious that Great Whites management and probably to some degree the band members we're CLEARLY at fault here. These guys have been doing this a long, long time. They know the deal with permits. This is about them saving money and still putting on a big rockshow. I also think they will also be facing jail time and should get it. Reckless endangerment, breaking of fire codes and licensing, there's probably ten others being drawn up right now. Bottom line, this is horrible. But anyone that goes out to clubs in Boston (or any major city) knows that this could happen at a dozen places on a given Saturday night. It's terrible that we had to be woken up to this in this way. It's so sad.

Dave , Allston

I can't believe they weren't required to have sprinklers. All public buildings should be required to have them.

Cris, Boston

1. Laws and ordinances should be enforced. 2. Public places should be required to have up-to-date fire protection, no matter when they were built.

Bob, Clinton, MA

It seems fairly clear, based on the video from inside the club when the fire started, that the low ceiling of the club probably should have been a signal to the band when they were setting up that the sparklers they use were not a good idea for that venue. Perhaps they should have asked if the ceiling tiles were fireproof. Anyone that has ever held one of those 'kid-size' sparklers knows that sparks fly everywhere, and you wouldn't light one in a hay barn, would you? Where was the common sense? It's fine to talk about whether they got permission to use the pyrotechnics, whether there should have been sprinklers, whether fire exits were blocked, etc. But once again, where was the common sense? New laws can help prevent these tragedies but cannot guarantee that people --whether it was the band crew that set it up or the manager who may have given permission-- will exercise common sense and in many situations there is really no substitute for that.

Chris, Marlborough

This is truly a terrible tragedy. The lead singer of the band,Mr. Russell, seemed to have been the first out. How so? Apparently he was more experienced with the hazards of indoor fire crackers,and fortunately for him he survived. The few who did survive (got out burned but alive)can be instrumental in helping in the reconstruction of the event (fire). Point 2 Why is it so important for a second-rate Metal Band to "electrify" the audience? Abby

abby, Boston

Sad lessons: From the fire in RI - never, ever view fire or smoke with indifference. Evacuate IMMEDIATELY, and be sure that someone has called the fire department. A small fire can turn deadly in a matter of seconds. (And obviously, fireworks should never be used indoors. Duh.) From the tragedy in Chicago - NEVER do anything to panic a large crowd in an enclosed space; security personnel should be trained on this. And if you are in a nightclub that you think is violating its legal capacity (required by law to be posted at the entrance) demand a refund, leave, then call the police and report them.

Jim, Boston

I worked production at a club in Hampton, NH for a number of years and most bands were very cooperative with everything. We had a number of "washed up" metal bands over the years and they were often the most cooperative. One year the Bosstones fired paper out of canons, no flames. Whoever is responsibel,was purely stupid. If Great White didn't have permission, shame on them. If the club allowed it, even worse. Whoever is at fault, I don't think they could have ever conceived such a disaster would have occured.

Glen, Haverhill, MA

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