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NFPA's Life Safety Code

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  • NFPA's Life Safety Code

    QUINCY, Mass. (AP) - Tammy Passa was only 15 feet from the main
    entrance of The Station nightclub when she tried to escape the hot
    flames and thick black smoke consuming the building.
    Instead, she was paralyzed by the crowd, until a police officer
    pulled her to safety.
    "I tried to wiggle and it was hard to wiggle," said Passa, 24,
    of Warwick. "You realized that you didn't want to die there, so
    you did everything you could to get out of the pile. ... If (the
    doors) were bigger, more people would probably have been able to
    get out."
    Prompted by the Feb. 20 fire that killed 100 people and injured
    scores of others, a National Fire Protection Association committee
    voted Wednesday to recommend tougher crowd-management and
    fire-safety standards in the NFPA's Life Safety Code, which has
    been adopted in one form or another by more than 30 states.
    The committee voted to require building owners or their
    representatives to inspect all exits each time the building will be
    opened to the public. That's every day for some seven-day-a-week
    businesses.
    It also voted to require a crowd manager for all places of
    assembly, which the NFPA defines as places that hold 50 people or
    more.
    The standards would require venues with festival seating and a
    capacity of 250 or more to conduct sweeping "life safety
    evaluations" every year.
    Currently, the NFPA recommends such evaluations only in
    buildings with a capacity of 1,000 or more. The Station had a
    maximum capacity of 404 people when all chairs and tables were
    removed.
    Paul Wertheimer, a Chicago-based crowd management specialist who
    testified in May before a Rhode Island commission investigating the
    fire, said a life safety evaluation, "would have exposed earlier
    the potential shortcomings of that venue under certain
    situations."
    And "if somebody had been authorized or available to help
    direct the crowd, it might have made a difference in lessening the
    disaster," he said.
    On Tuesday, the committee voted to recommend that sprinklers be
    required in all new places of assembly. The committee also will
    recommend sprinklers in some existing buildings with a capacity of
    100 or more.
    Those emergency changes would apply only to nightclubs,
    discotheques, dance halls, bars and venues with festival seating.
    The current NFPA guidelines suggest sprinklers in buildings with a
    capacity of 300 or more.
    The sprinkler recommendations are tougher than the fire code
    enacted Monday in Rhode Island, where sprinklers are required by
    July 2006 in nightclubs that serve alcohol and have occupancies of
    at least 150 people. Other places of assembly with occupancies of
    300 or more are required to install sprinklers by July 2005.
    The building that housed The Station nightclub did not have
    sprinklers.
    The measures approved this week are an important step by the
    NFPA to "understand crowd dynamics and crowd psychology and ...
    expand their influence in another area of public safety," said
    Wertheimer, a committee member who also spoke before a commission
    studying a Chicago nightclub stampede that left 21 dead.
    "It's spotlighting something that's been in the code, but
    strengthening it," said Gary Keith, the NFPA's vice president for
    building codes and standards. "The experiences in both the Chicago
    and Rhode Island incidents say that we need to have emergency
    planning for crowd management, even in small venues."
    The committee's recommendations will be considered for final
    approval by the NFPA's Standards Council when it meets next week in
    Portland, Ore.
    The nonprofit NFPA, which has no enforcement power, also formed
    task forces to study stadium stairs and the width of exits. The
    groups will present their findings to the committee when it meets
    again Feb. 3 in Phoenix.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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