By Ron Kanterman
I got a feeling that you opened this because we just got home from FDIC. In fact it was a killer show. It was my 23rd FDIC and it simply gets better each year. For me, it’s a family reunion and for one week, it’s the center of our universe. Great training, great expo and great times. Start saving now for next year. It rolls around quick.
“Killer Show” is actually the title of a book (John Barylick, University Press of New England) that was recently released, and chronicles the Station Night Club (West Warwick, RI) fire which took place on February 20, 2003, which took 100 lives and maimed a few hundred others. The author was one of a team of lawyers representing the victims in the many civil suits that followed the fire. His research was impeccable as was his attention to detail. He did background on just about everyone who was in the club that night, staff, owners and patrons alike. Many were there as guests of the band. Others bought tickets, some were guests of ticket holders. Some were on a first date. There were married couples, singles, and just friends hanging out for a fun night. Not so much. Mr. Barylick also has a knack of explaining things in such lay terms that your mom or grandpa could understand pyrolysis. He hired fire protection engineers, fire experts and used nationally recognized fire testing labs to test materials. Very well done. No stone unturned. His attention to detail from the first page to the last was incredible.
Near the end of the book, he discusses what we discuss in our business all the time. First, that for some reason people don’t learn from the past. There have been at least a half dozen similar fires around the world since the Station fire. The most recent was in Brazil where 230 people perished. Second, that it was a series of errors that caused the Station to burn, kill and maim, not just one thing. It was a domino effect. In fact he said that had one of the defendants (owners, band, makers of foam padding, promoters, staff members, pyrotechnic operators, fire department, building department, etc.) had done their due diligence, the dominos would not have aligned and fallen the way they did.
This book should be required reading for all fire service personnel. (I get no royalties. I was just never quite moved by a story out of the annals of fire history.) It should absolutely be required reading for fire inspectors, fire marshals and anyone who does fire prevention work which should be all of us! Read “Killer Show.” It’s guaranteed to move you. It’s guaranteed to make you do your job better than anything else you’ll read.
Fire Prevention saves lives. Citizens and firefighters.
Be well, stay well, be safe,