At least 231 people were killed in a nightclub fire in Southern Brazil Saturday night. The fire, reportedly started by on stage pyrotechnics, produced fire and smoke that immediately overcame many of the party goers.
It is common at nightclubs in Brazil for patrons to accumulate a bar tab throughout the evening; this tab is then paid as a condition of exit from the club. Brazilian media are also reporting that some of the exit doors at the now destroyed Kiss Nightclub were locked at the time the fire started.
Many of the club patrons were students at local schools and universities, a similar demographic to those who attend nightclubs in the United States and Portland; the youth and health that is often associated with this demographic provides no security or advantage over the rapid spread and potency of the asphyxiating smoke and gasses that accompany such fires.
Many of the most deadly fires in recent years have been at nightclubs. A 2009 fire at a club in Perm, Russia killed 152; in 2004 a similar fire in Argentina killed 194, a Christmas day fire at a nightclub fire in Luoyang, China killed 309.
Acoustic treatments, common in concert halls, can be highly flammable and contribute to the instant and lethal spread of fire and smoke. A 2003 fire at the Station nightclub in Rhode Island killed one hundred people. The fire was started by pyrotechnics that ignited soundproofing. Inhalation and asphyxiation caused the death of many of the concert attendees who were unable to escape the smoke and blaze through limited and insufficient exits. The band manager and nightclub owners were each found guilty of 100 counts of manslaughter; each was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Limited or poorly marked exits, in addition to widespread panic, often result in a stampede of those trying to escape these conflagrations. Many are trampled and injured upon reaching exit doors.
Portland Fire & Rescue places a great emphasis on the safety of nightclubs in Portland. A multi-tiered approach, including progressive code setting, inspections, and code enforcement, has contributed greatly to the safety of visitors to Portland's nightclubs and concert venues.
Patrons of nightclubs and other gathering places can also protect themselves:
-Before entering a building look to see if the occupancy makes you feel safe and comfortable.
-Be certain that doors open outward and exits are clear.
-When you enter, look for all available exits, most attempt to exit from the same place they entered when another exit is often closer and less crowded.
-If you feel unsafe, leave immediately, and report unsafe conditions to Portland Fire & Rescue. Fire Code and Inspection questions can be answered by calling (503) 823-3700.
In the event of an emergency exit immediately through the NEAREST exit, GET OUT and STAY OUT. Meet your group at a prearranged location and NEVER reenter a hazardous environment.
Portland Fire & Rescue sends our condolences to those lost in Brazilian nightclub fire. With hard work and diligence, Portland Fire & Rescue, and our customers, can prevent such a tragedy from ever taking place in Portland.
Assistant PIO Gabriel Watson
Contact info, for media use only:
Assistant PIO Gabriel Watson
55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204