View Full Version : Pyrotechnics turn deadly again...

27th Jan 2013, 16:18
I was apt to think of The Station nightclub disaster when I first heard the horrible news but the scale of death in this most recent fire in Brazil is truly awful, over 200 hundred people dead...

The Station nightclub fire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Station_nightclub_fire)

Brazil nightclub fire leaves 232 dead - Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/brazil/9829734/Brazil-nightclub-fire-leaves-245-dead.html)

"The death toll from the inferno stood initially at 70 but rapidly increased as firefighters searched the charred remains of the "Kiss" club, believed to have been packed with 300-400 revelers at the time of the blaze.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cut short a visit to Chile, where she was attending a European and Latin American summit, to head to Santa Maria and oversee the response to the tragedy, a Brazilian official said. "

One's heart goes out to those who have been impacted by this disaster.


27th Jan 2013, 16:43
Flaming Nightclub cocktail

1 measure Indoor fireworks
1 measure illegal flammable materials
1 measure locked fire exits stopping non-paying entry
dash of stupidity
twist of bribed inspectors

mix in a large number of 'fashionable' punters, who know very well that such places are dodgy but don't care (and try to let their mates in through the fire exits, hence why they are locked)

This recipe works for EVERY large scale nightclub fire.

Mac the Knife
27th Jan 2013, 17:02
Cocoanut Grove fire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocoanut_Grove_fire) - 1942 - 492 deaths

"The tragedy led to a reform of safety standards and codes across the country, and major changes in the treatment and rehabilitation of burn victims."



27th Jan 2013, 17:16
Having been a fire officer in the RAF and carried out inspections of many buildings, I have always had an aversion to being in overcrowded places, even busy department stores have me automatically looking for the location of the nearest fire exit as I walk around. Nothing would induce me to enter a place such as this (unlikely anyway, as my clubbing days are long past!)

Dont want to prejudge this one, but I wouldnt be in the least surprised to hear that emergency exits had been locked, as Fox has mentioned.

27th Jan 2013, 17:21
There have been several tragedies of this nature, I seem to recall the last one on this scale was in the Philippines, and the exit doors were locked.

Like tankertrashnav, I have always had an aversion to being in overcrowded places, even busy department stores have me automatically looking for the location of the nearest fire exit as I walk around. Nothing would induce me to enter a place such as this, and I have always hated crowded smelly noisy places, night clubs and suchlike encapsulating all of those.

Ochlophobia has been a good friend to me.,

27th Jan 2013, 17:31
There was a psychological experiment done some years ago where the subjects where placed in a basement room, ostensibly for a job interview. A fire alarm was sounded. Nobody left for several minutes. That person was asked not to go back. It took 20 minutes before the majority got up to leave. They all left by the long route back where they had entered, despite there being a marked fire exit 2 feet from the door of the room they were in.

When the experiment was repeated with a fire alarm with voice instructions, everyone left immediately by the correct exit.

Strange stuff human psychology.

27th Jan 2013, 17:35
I think part of the problem is that we have become so used to tests and false alarms that when the real thing happens, we ignore it.

I was in a building last week where there was an alarm to evacuate. We all assumed it was a test/false alarm until the high viz vest/clipboard men came round proclaiming that their moment of glory had come. Needless to say, it was a practice!

27th Jan 2013, 17:43
I've only experienced real alarms twice. One, on an RAF station, was 25 seconds after the weekly test of the alarms - everybody ignored it. The second was a crash alarm that went off for about half a second. The crashing aircraft (no fatalities) cartwheeled towards ATC, so the ATC assistant who pressed the button started running instinctively as he pressed it, so the button didn't lock in.

Life's like that!!

27th Jan 2013, 17:44
that their moment of glory had come

Tad harsh there Tableview, when these guys and gals are the last ones out of the building having checked all areas are clear and that you are not the one left behind with his foot stuck down the loo! I know, I found that man.

27th Jan 2013, 17:45
I know this topic is not one for jocularity, but the 'fire alarm' scene in the Fawlty Towers 'Germans' episode is a perfect illustration of how people react to alarms.,

27th Jan 2013, 17:56
Tad harsh there Tableview

Maybe, had it been for real. As it happens one of the people in my charge was injured when she was violently shoved out of the emergency exit of the building by one of the clipboard men, tripping, cutting her hands and bruising her face. She was very upset and shocked and has made a formal complaint to building management, with my support.

27th Jan 2013, 18:10
The title of this thread is incorrect: the pyrotechnics worked perfectly and did what they were designed to do.

Now as for the idiot(s) who held the pyrotechnics above their head(s) so that the ceiling ignited, that's another matter.

27th Jan 2013, 18:20
Many causal factors, but to me the #1 issue is available fire exits per density of people.

If regulated somebody needs to go to jail.

If unregulated then somebody needs to learn the same old lesson again.

Most attendees don't give a though to croud safety. feeling like animals that there is safety in numbers. You aren't about to change this attitude

Milo Minderbinder
27th Jan 2013, 18:25
The pyrotechnics may well have been the source of the ignition, but I'd hazard a guess that the building was partly constructed with flammable material that should not have been there, or else planning laws didn't properly specify flame resistant construction

Summerland burnt down in 1973, and that just needed a discarded cigarette to ignite the plastic. Has no-one learnt that lesson?
The American example cited above was also an example of incorrectly used construction materials

Summerland disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summerland_disaster)

27th Jan 2013, 19:16
having checked all areas are clear and that you are not the one left behind with his foot stuck down the loo! I know, I found that man.

[thread diversion- not to detract from the tragic nature of the thread subject]

whoa there.

foot... stuck down the bog ? :ooh:

we need more information on this

27th Jan 2013, 19:25
Fire Works inside a packed Night Club.....Darwinism on Parade!:ugh:

west lakes
27th Jan 2013, 19:41
Not pyrotechnics but complacency

Carelessness, complacency ... catastrophe - fires at Woolworth in the 1970s (http://www.woolworthsmuseum.co.uk/1970s-fire.htm)

27th Jan 2013, 21:14
Summerland burnt down in 1973, and that just needed a discarded cigarette to ignite the plastic.

Not so. "The Summerland Fire Commission concluded that the fire was started by three boys on the mini-golf terrace shortly before 7.40 p.m. and first entered the Amusement Arcade (Level 4)...at about 8 p.m." The three boys deliberately set fire to the remains of a damaged kiosk which had been left lying there and which "contained a roll of wire netting covered in combustible plastic and possibly some litter".

I have a precis of the report in my shelves. (Never overlook the Power of PPRuNe).

27th Jan 2013, 23:13
From what we're hearing down here, "Kiss" had been operating for three years but had not yet obtained the necessary operating license, called, in Portuguese, an Alvara. There are also reports that security people, not understanding what was happening, kept the exits locked so customers couldn't leave without paying.

The occasion was a university party of some sort. Santa Maria is a small town and the students are from all over the state and from other states.

On the car radio this morning I heard a ten-minute rehash of almost identical tragedies in every corner of the earth. Sheesh. Like Tankertrashnav I avoid closed-in places.

Milo Minderbinder
27th Jan 2013, 23:53
whether it was an accidental fag end or the kids deliberately set it alight is not really relevant......the key factor is that Summerland was built using unsafe materials that allowed the fire to spread. A factor which is present in all the documented fires of this type. Incorrect construction, and/or unsafe building materials. And of course - locked doors

as an aside - does the report actually say it was deliberate?.....I was told by someone at school with one of those involved that it was accidental, but then I guess he would say that......

Worrals in the wilds
28th Jan 2013, 02:16
Most attendees don't give a though to croud safety.
And many will be intoxicated.
Another good reason for not going to nightclubs in countries with governments that are incapable of enforcing a fire code.

Locked doors in an entertainment venue? :yuk: I suppose they'll skive off any legal action, too.

28th Jan 2013, 02:34
I was in a building last week where there was an alarm to evacuate. We all assumed it was a test/false alarm until the high viz vest/clipboard men came round proclaiming that their moment of glory had come. Needless to say, it was a practice! We had one of them, I watch in disappointment as the designated chief fire warden was *running* up and down the floor telling everyone to assemble at the designated exit points, then I saw her run back to her desk to change shoes. I though "We are going to die" if ever I put the trust in my life to that person. 20 minutes later we were at our designated safe areas outside the building with them high viz vest/clipboard men and their stopwatches.

Some months later, I smelt a hint of burning plastic, I asked the boss if he could too, initially no, eventually yes and we then went to check the likely suspects (kitchen/computer room) and found nothing. I told him I'm off to get a coffee and as I exited the building the smell became more pronounced, I could see smoke haze around our building but no source, and still nobody was being evacuated. I thought bugger the coffee, I'm going to wait this one out at a Mcdonalds restaurant further away. As I'm walking there the smoke and pungent smell become more pronounced. I sat down at the restaurant with my cheeseburger and soon three firetrucks appeared down this wrong street (obviously other upwind tenants had notified the fire brigade), eventually they found their way and disappeared from view.

30 minutes later I started walking back to the office, the smell of burnt plastic was very strong, outside our building was a solitary fire truck mopping up. A near new Porsche Cheyenne in an underground car park under a garden mall adjacent to our building had caught fire and was venting the smoke out the overhead ducts. Neither building either side had been evacuated. When I entered my building, it was full of smoke and the people in charge looked confused. I asked the boss if the fire alarm went off and he said it didn't. The smell of burnt plastic was irritating (and probably unhealthy) so I asked the boss if I could be excused to seek fresh air with an early lunch and he kindly agreed.

Ever since then I apply the motto that if I can smell smoke and it is not being caused by something that is my responsibility, then I will let someone else important know and get out of there quicksmart. Fortunately my olfactory senses seem to be above average.

28th Jan 2013, 02:49

If you see something that's not right, take charge and pull the fire alarm, then go to McDonalds and watch from there.

Had a colleague once who stood in a concourse at MCI and watched a shift change across the airport between firefighters. Judged that with all the confusion that no way could they meet the time to arrive if the fire alarm was pulled. So he pulled it and timed them. They didn't meet the reg and he told them so.

They reported his behaviour to his superiors and he was chastised for operating outside his assigned job.

lesson: run the test but don't take credit for it

28th Jan 2013, 04:20
Yes totally agree lomapaseo, and that is what I did by letting the boss know and with a check of the usual suspects before self preservation mode kicked in.

In this situation both buildings either side of the garden mall where the fire was burning had ingested a lot of the smoke through their airconditioning systems. The buildings were full of visible smoke but I don't know what their fire monitoring systems were indicating, nonetheless the chief fire warden did not initiate an evacuation order under those circumstances.

28th Jan 2013, 05:09
Any hint of smoke or fire alarm without announcement that source identified and under control has me out the nearest fire exit pronto.

My last evacuation was at an office building with a few levels of parking below. I felt fortunate the exit doors worked:ok:

After several minutes heard the fire trucks coming. Some dolt who made himself scarce had turned off the alarm at the control panel -- and it was false.

The fire department had words with the building management.

A building management that runs regular fire drills can usually be trusted to have operable fire exits.

If your building management does not, the recommendation from fire folks in such a situation is "Call us and tell us where you are -- we'll come and get you."

That's in North American office buildings where building codes and fire department inspectors are on the ball.

As for clubs, this is simply the latest of several:mad:

Either some ejected patron firebombs the only entrance or some idiot on stage lights pyrotechnics that ignite flammable materials.

The exits are either locked or blocked with supplies and are not properly lit.

Which club will be next -- toss dice:mad:

28th Jan 2013, 05:23
Remembered this from Dublin in the 80s.....

Stardust Fire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardust_fire)

28th Jan 2013, 09:05
During one of my final exams at uni we were all beavering away at a French translation paper, when the fire alarm went off. There was a general scraping of chairs as everyone got up to leave which was interrupted when the invigilator told us to hang on as it was probably a false alarm. There was a moment's pause then everyone quite correctly continued to leave the hall. This had less to do with adherence to fire regulations and more to do with the opportunity to exchange info on French vocabulary as we waited outside.

It was a false alarm and I got a 2:1 for my translation ;)

28th Jan 2013, 09:55

a) the fire was started deliberately although it's doubtful the boys (from Liverpool) wanted to set the whole complex on fire.

b) As you say, the conflagration was aided by the use of inappropriate materials, used in an incorrect manner (e.g. Oroglas should not be used with edges left unprotected); construction plans were not assessed correctly for fire risk, and further ad-hoc changes were made as construction progressed creating voids which acted as chimneys. Unsuitable materials were substituted for original specs., and again used in an inappropriate manner.

c) The client (Douglas Corporation) left the project very muich in the hands of the two firms of architects J Philipps Lomas and Gillinson Barnett, who each assumed the other bore responsibilities for certain aspects of design. Further design work was subcontracted to Wright Anderson Ltd and Gilson Barnet then subcontracted work to a designer who without telling anyone substituted flammable boarding for plasterboard. Robertson supplied the Galbestos cladding (which burned) which was substituted for the original spec'd reinforced concrete. William J Cox supplied the Oroglass (which burned). The client issued waivers for a two hour fire resistance even before construction started. (By-law 39).

d) No matter how the fire started, it was a disaster waiting to happen and would have anyway, sooner or later. But you can, with hindsight, say that so often about so many disasters.....

Anyone know what became of the site subsequently ?t

28th Jan 2013, 10:56
the stupidest was the one in Russia where the nightclub was decorated with straw (!), pyrotechnics used and plastic interior dripping on victims minutes after the blaze started.

28th Jan 2013, 13:32
Anyone know what became of the site subsequently ?t Demolished in 1975 and rebuilt as a smaller venue, reopened in 1978 then finally closed and demolished in 2004.

28th Jan 2013, 14:15
Thanks Blacksheep, I found the site on Google Earth. I see one wall is still there in place, holding the cliff up. I wonder if the IoM authorities learned their lesson ? Sadly from yesterday's fire and the others mentioned on this thread, it seems that other operators of public venues haven't.

Yes indeedy, if you smell smoke, tell someone and then get you and your family out of it. And avoid crowded places.

I was at a concert in a church in Reutlingen a few years ago, so many turned up (it was free which explains a lot) that extra folding chairs were brought in until the entire floor area was occupied and still more people crammed in, standing by chairs which were already blocking the exits. Had a fire started in this ancient building, we wouldn't have had a chance.