RI Club Owners Knowingly Used Highly Flammable Foam.
"They wanted the lowest grade, the cheapest stuff," said Aram DerManouelian, president of American Foam Corp. in Johnston which sold the materials to the West Warwick club. "We sell flame-retardant foam, but that's not what they were looking for. It costs twice as much."
DerManouelian told the Herald that 25 sheets of "egg crate" packing foam were delivered to the club June 27, 2000, at a cost of $575. The owners of the club then glued the foam to the walls and spray painted them with a sparkly, dark paint.
The egg crate packing foam that was used in the station is not typically used as soundproofing for clubs and the Herald reports that it is known to be highly flammable and burns like gasoline, emitting a dark, toxic smoke.
The Herald also reported that the clubs co-owner Jeffrey Derderian, knew of the danger associated with the foam. Jeffrey Derderian, a former reporter at WHDH-TV (Ch. 7), did a special report on the dangers of the egg crate foam in a Feb. 18, 2001, piece on mattress fires, reports the Boston Herald. In the report, which aired on Ch. 7 seven months after the foam was glued to the walls of his own nightclub, Derderian calls the material solid gasoline and quotes fire officials warning of its danger.
The owners, speaking through their attorney, say that they were given the wrong advise by one of their neighbors. Soon after the Herald story broke, the club owners related their side of the story. They claim that Barry Warner, a foam salesman living next door to the venue came to them looking to sell them foam, saying they could use it as soundproofing for the club to help cut down on the noise complaints they had been receiving from neighboring businesses.
Kathleen Hagerty, the attorney for the club co-owner Michael Derderian says that his client relied on Warners advise when selecting which foam to use in the club.
"Barry represented that this is the foam that you use to soundproof a club," Hagerty said of the June 2000 discussion. "They relied on him. He was the expert."
Warner says that the Derderians wanted the cheapest option and safety was never discussed.
"The issue never came up," Warner said in an interview on Sunday. "More expensive options, he wasn't interested."
We have to assume the he in this case was Michael Derderian, although Warner says he discussed the foam with both brothers on several occasions over a period of a few weeks. Hagerty has tried to shift the blame to Warner, saying that he was the one who measured the club and arranged for the purchase of the flammable foam that was used in the club.
"I did not place the order, I did not measure the job, I did not deliver the job, I did not arrange for delivery," Warner told the Associated Press.
Rhode Island law prohibits the use of flammable acoustic material from the walls of gathering places like bars. However, the club did pass a fire safety inspection last December and there is no indication at press time if Fire officials raised any concern about the foam materials lining the walls of the club.
Following the fatal blaze at the Station which claimed the life of 98 people, the owners pointed the finger at the band saying that they never gave the group permission to use pyro in their set but the band contends that they were given permission.