R.I. Band Says Club Owners Encouraged Use Of Pyro Effects. 

02-23-03 antiGUY
Why did it happen? That is the question on the minds of people across the world. Why did the use of what are usually considered relatively harmless pyrotechnic effects touch off a fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island last Thursday night?  

Since the deadly fire there has been a lot of confusion over the band Great White’s use of “gerbs” during their performance. Members of the band and their attorney contend that they were given permission to use the pyrotechnics by the club owners but Kathleen Hagerty the attorney for the club owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian says that no permission was given. 

Authorities in Rhode Island are investigating the deadly fire that claimed the life of 96 people and injured close to 200 others. The state's Attorney-General, Patrick Lynch, said a criminal investigation was under way to determine if charges should be filed, "There could be a whole menu of charges," he said. "It could be manslaughter, it could be murder, it could be simple assault." 

Yesterday North Andover Mass area newspaper Eagle-Tribune reported that in the past at least one band had used pyrotechnics during their performances at The Station, and in fact were encouraged to use them by the club owners. 

“Methuen musician Rev Tyler has played The Station several times, using pyrotechnics in every show with the permission of the West Warwick, R.I., club,” reports Eagle-Tribune staff writer O’Ryan Johnson.

“In a videotape of a March 8, 2000, show at The Station that Tyler supplied to The Eagle-Tribune, white-sparking fireworks can be seen showering Tyler and other members of the Lovin' Kry band twice during the rock group's set.” 

"We did it every time, and every time they invited us back," Tyler told the Eagle-Tribune. "We did it numerous times. They loved us there.'' 

The Eagle-Tribune article also reports, “Tyler said the club not only permitted the fiery spectacles, it banked on them to draw crowds.” 

"When we did (set off the fireworks) they knew we'd get a better show every time ... a lot of tickets sold, a lot of booze sold," Tyler said.

Tyler came forward in defense of Great White and says that the pyrotechnics his band used are the same type that Great White was using and that they are usually safe. 

"They've shot me in the face with that stuff," he said. "I've been shot in the butt. My pant legs caught on fire, and I slapped it out."

A former employee of The Station, Melissa Warner, told Reuters that pyrotechnics have been used in the club in the past without any problems. 

Meanwhile, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri is suspicious of the sound-proofing foam used in the nightclub. He told reporters that investigators suspect the foam material was highly flammable and accelerated the blaze.

''It shouldn't have been in there, obviously,'' Carcieri said. ''We know it's an old, wooden building, but it went up in almost a flash fire. The suspicion is it was a highly flammable material, so that's why this spread so rapidly and engulfed the building.''

The blaze reportedly spread throughout the building within three minutes. 

The Boston Globe reported the following on Sunday (Feb 23), “Under Rhode Island's building code, club owners must seek approval from local building and fire departments for changes to the interior of their establishment that involve new materials, such as soundproofing insulation, said Joseph Cirillo, who until July was the state's building commissioner. The local authorities review the proposed material's fire rating - which reflects its flammability - before issuing an approval.”  

“It's not clear whether the owners of The Station sought the local approval.” 

''All those questions will come out,'' Carcieri said. ''Why would you be putting material, if it's highly flammable, inside a building where you are taking hundreds of people?''

It is clear that neither the band nor the club had the proper permits to use pyrotechnics in the building. 

The building did pass a fire inspection last December but the Boston Globe reports that “West Warwick Fire Chief Charles Hall said he did not know whether his department had been informed about the installation of the foam tiles at The Station. Hall also would not
say whether his department's inspector saw the foam material on the walls during an inspection in December, which cleared the club of violations.”

While authorities investigate the cause of the fire, forensic teams are working around the clock to identify the bodies of those who were killed inside the building. At press time thirty-one of the 96 people killed in the blaze had been identified according to Governor Carcieri.



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