This is a complete disaster and horrible situation. My thoughts go out to the victims and their families.
I’m not a news agency and I have never been to Brazil, so I’m not going to pile on. However, what in the heck went wrong?
- The band performing at the nightclub used pyrotechnics inside. I don’t care how safe they are or how well the users have been trained in setting them off, this always seems like a bad idea.
- It took some time for the band and patrons to realize the club was on fire, and once they did chaos ensued.
- There was only one way out of the club – the front door – and no emergency exits (according to the CBS News report).
- No communication means between the back of the club and the security officers out front. The guards were trying to prevent patrons from fleeing because they needed them to pay their bar tabs before leaving, thusly causing an escape bottleneck.
- Smoke filling the club suffocated victims – was there no ventilation system?
- Between the smoke suffocation and the escape bottleneck, the killed victims’ bodies were piling up at the entrance, making it even harder for others to escape safely and for emergency responders to get inside and help.
- A security guard gave a band member a fire extinguisher to use on the fire…but either it didn’t work or he didn’t know how to use it.
- The club had been filled beyond its capacity for a party.
- In addition to the ceiling, the soundproofing material used for deadening echoes caught fire and spread toxic fumes through the air. Soundproof does not equal fireproof, evidently.
This is not to make light of the situation. This is a huge disaster and in many ways it could have been prevented – no indoor pyrotechnics, reduced flammable components, functional fire extinguishers, lights for emergency exits, more emergency exits…
Clubs continually push the limits on what maintains a safe atmosphere. It’s sad that improvements come as a result of being reactive and not proactive in situations like these.
(Thanks to Courtney Khondabi of WOWK in Charleston, WV for the heads-up on these developments.)