AUGUSTA — On the anniversary of the worst nightclub fire in New England since the 1940s, Maine’s fire marshal is reminding patrons at large indoor gatherings to identify exits and be aware of their surroundings.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Station Fire in West Warwick, R.I., that killed 100 people. The blaze in the crowded nightclub started when pyrotechnics used by the band Great White ignited the venue’s ceiling. The band had played in Bangor two nights earlier and had also used pyrotechnics at that event.
Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas said the anniversary is a reminder to patrons of any large event, be it a nightclub performance, concert or movie, to know where the exits are.
“The closest exit may not be the one used to enter a premises,” Thomas said. “When we get on an airplane, one of the first things we do is locate all of the exits in case of an emergency and I recommend the same thing at any indoor location where large numbers of people are gathered.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Rhode Island fire a decade ago, the Fire Marshal’s Office revised rules for indoor pyrotechnic displays in Maine. Pyrotechnics are now allowed only in buildings with sprinkler systems and an announcement must be made before any show telling patrons where the exits are located. Fire marshals also inspect any venue before indoor pyrotechnics are used.