NIST Marks 5th Anniversary of Tragic Rhode Island Fire 02/01/2008 | One project under way as a result of the Rhode Island nightclub fire seeks to improve the evaluation of portable fire extinguishers for use in public venues This week marks a sober anniversary. On Feb. 20, 2003, pyrotechnics lit during a concert at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, RI, starting a rapidly spreading fire that caused the deaths of 100 people. Within a week, the Gaithersburg, MD-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched a 2-year investigation of the tragic event to understand exactly what happened and to make recommendations for change based on those findings. NIST's final report on the fire, released June 29, 2005, made 10 recommendations for increased occupant safety in nightclubs. By the time the final report was issued, seven of the 10 proposed safety improvements had already been acted upon by the State of Rhode Island and national model code development organizations. NIST supported the changes to the national model codes and urged all state and local jurisdictions to adopt them. The NIST recommendations included requirements that all nightclubs with occupancies of more than 100 people have sprinkler systems, tighter restrictions on the use of flammable materials in finish products, and the maximum permitted evacuation times (90 seconds for nightclubs similar in size to or smaller than The Station). The remaining three NIST recommendations called for more research on human behavior in emergencies, fire spread and suppression, and computer-aided decision tools - the data from which could yield further improvements in and maximize the effectiveness of these lifesaving regulations. Recent NIST research efforts are taking important steps toward achieving these goals. One project under way seeks to improve the evaluation of portable fire extinguishers for use in public venues such as nightclubs. Laboratory fire tests at NIST's headquarters are being conducted to determine if the current method of rating and locating portable fire extinguishers in areas of assembly is sufficient to enable typically trained nightclub staff to control a worst-case-scenario, rapidly spreading fire. A second study is looking at how fires grow and spread on plastics, polyurethane foams, and similar materials that melt and flow when burning. The goal is to develop a state-of-the-art computer model for this fire behavior that can be used to design less flammable furniture and interior wall, floor, and ceiling finish materials. Finally, NIST (working with code-making organizations, other federal agencies, and universities) has begun a major research program to improve the design and performance of building egress and emergency access systems through a greater understanding of human behavior in emergency situations. NIST and its partners expect this effort to eventually yield advanced building-design software that accounts for how people react during evacuations. For more information on the NIST investigation of The Station nightclub fire, go to (www.nist.gov/ncst). Previous ArticleNext ArticleENERGY STAR Announces 2013 Upgrade of Portfolio Manager Read more on Building Maintenance » Twitter Facebook LinkedIn RSS Email to a Friend * required fields From* To * Message cancel Email Print Print Related Coverage 6 Ways Buildings Can Promote Wellness PRSM Releases Study on Energy Benchmarking ADDITIONAL FM TOPICS Building Maintenance CIBSE Announces 2017 Building Performance Winners Building Maintenance How Population Health Principles are Changing Hospital FM Strategies Building Maintenance 8 Elements of a Maintainable Roof Building Maintenance 9 Geothermal Innovators Roofing Protect Your Building with a Roof Warranty Interiors Sustainable Locker Materials and Solutions for Every Place and Purpose Interiors Five Trends Transforming the Office Space and the Impact on Your Bottom Line Roofing The Keys to Roof Inspections Sound Masking Speech Privacy & Sound Masking in Modern Architecture Related Articles Top 10 Mosquito-Plagued Cities Leading Cause of Death for Construction Workers Addressed in Campaign Transform Health, Safety and Sustainability Data Prevent Ladder Deaths and Injuries With Training 9 Keys to Building Security Sponsored Links Improve building energy efficiency and reduce maintenance expenses with Polyglass’ Kool Roof Solutions, featuring Polyfresko highly reflective cap sheet and several roof coating options.