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09-09- 2003

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 5 months ago

September 9, 2003


Says proposed changes will “set an example for the rest of the nation”


Governor Mitt Romney today released the report of the Task Force on Building and Fire Safety, which he created earlier this year in the wake of the tragic fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Romney endorsed the panel’s findings, including the installation of sprinklers in nightclubs with an occupancy of 50 people or more.


Romney praised the work of the 32-member panel, which was composed of fire safety experts, state and local public safety representatives and individuals touched directly by The Station nightclub fire. He noted the recommendations were crafted after seven official meetings, eight public forums across the state and numerous subcommittee deliberations.


“Accidents will always happen. There’s simply no way to prevent every mishap. But, as the task force notes, the real tragedy of The Station nightclub fire is that loss of life may have been prevented with effective code enforcement, better training of nightclub staff and the installation of automatic sprinklers,” Romney said.


Romney outlined the panel’s recommendations, which include requiring within three years automatic sprinkler systems in all clubs with a capacity of more than 50 people. He noted that The Station nightclub was not outfitted with sprinklers.


“I’m aware of the financial burden that sprinkler installation will have on some of our smaller venues. But these considerations have to be weighted against the avoidance of a fire disaster such as we had in Rhode Island,” said Romney.


“We will do what we can to lessen the burden on our club owners. What we will not do is compromise the public safety,” he added.


Highlights of the report include:


  • Requiring all nightclubs, discotheques, dance halls and bars to have at least 72-inch main exit doors in addition to other required exit doors;

Banning the use of indoor pyrotechnics in all nightclubs, discotheques, dance halls and bars;

  • Putting tighter controls on the delivery, handling, and storage of pyrotechnics;

Prohibiting foam plastics on interior finishes in all unsprinklered nightclubs, discotheques, dance halls and bars;

  • Developing training programs on fire and building safety standards in public assembly buildings for regulating officials, owners/operators of nightclubs, discotheques, dance halls and bars, and the general public who patronize these establishments;
  • Creating criminal penalties for businesses who violate the laws and regulations governing fire and building safety and create a dangerous condition in a public assembly building;
  • Establishing uniform code enforcement procedures for state and municipal enforcement personnel to issue uniform “code citation tickets”; and
  • Easing the financial burden on businesses complying with the new laws and regulations by putting in place tax credits, an accelerated depreciation schedule for sprinkler installation and/or a program to provide no- or low-interest loans to qualified business owners.


Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn said, “The public has a basic right to expect reasonable safety when they patronize commercial entertainment establishments. Many of the Task Force’s recommendations attempt to make all nightclubs, discotheques, dance halls, and bars as safe as possible, without causing undue hardship to the regulated community.”


State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said, “Most of the recommendations in this report take advantage of advances in technology and fire and building safety wisdom. Many of the recommendations require not only physical modification, but also changes in fire prevention practices and the training of public safety officials and owners and operators of public entertainment establishments.”


Commissioner of Public Safety Joseph Lalli said, “Establishment owners must recognize that installing automatic sprinklers and instituting other fire prevention measures is a ‘cost of doing business,’ a fundamental responsibility that must be met. Municipalities must re-energize their efforts to inspect public assembly buildings and enforce the codes.”


For a copy of the complete report, log onto the Department of Fire Safety Website at http://www.state.ma.us/dfs/taskforce/TaskForceReport.pdf


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