Report: Two Years After Great White Fire, Federal Agency Issues Safety Recommendations
Band Photo: Great White (?)
Chris Harris of MTV News is reporting that two years and change after a fatal inferno at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, took the lives of 100 GREAT WHITE fans as well as the band's guitarist Ty Longley, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a dozen building and fire-safety code recommendations as a result of the agency's investigation into the blaze.
The NIST, which has also been examining the 2001 collapse of the World Trade Center towers, called on organizations nationwide that develop fire-safety regulations and building codes to embrace these recommendations, released on Thursday (March 3). Among the recommendations are placing tighter restrictions on the use of flammable materials in nightclubs (such as wall coverings), improving access to building exits, augmenting the number of on-site fire extinguishers required in nightclubs, and mandating that both new and pre-existing venues install up-to-date sprinkler systems to better suppress fires.
The fire at the Station club was ignited when sparks from a pyrotechnic mishap during GREAT WHITE's opening song lit flammable soundproofing foam that lined the club's walls.
The NIST doesn't actually have regulatory authority — its findings are merely intended to help improve building safety codes. None of the results issued Thursday morning can be used as evidence in any pending criminal or civil court proceedings.
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In related news, a state Workers' Compensation Court judge Thursday (March 3) ordered the owners of The Station nightclub to pay more than $200,000 for funeral expenses and lost wages to the families of a waitress, a bouncer and two security workers killed in the disastrous fire at the club two years ago.
Judge Bruce Q. Morin said that the nightclub's owners, brothers Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, and their company, Derco LLC, are "jointly and individually'' liable for the workers' compensation benefits of the four employees.
The Derderians' lawyers said they plan to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
The state law entitles the family of someone who dies on the job to receive $15,000 to cover funeral costs, also known as death benefits, plus a portion of the deceased person's lost wages. Dependent children are entitled to benefits until age 18 or, if they are in college, age 23.
The nightclub workers who died in the Feb. 20, 2003, blaze were: Tracy F. King, 39; Dina Ann DeMaio, 30; Steven R. Mancini, 39, and his wife, Andrea Louise Jacavone Mancini, 28.
Judge Morin ruled the families of the Mancinis, King and DeMaio should each receive $15,000 in death or burial benefits.
He also ordered the club's owners to pay $818.10 weekly to King's family and $732.90 weekly to DeMaio's son and gaurdian. Those payments are retroactive to the time of the fire, and continue until the children reach legal age, or if King's wife remarries.
Barbara Magness, Steven Mancini's mother, said she was happy to receive some compensation, but the money wasn't why she took legal action.
"Why shouldn't (the Derderians) be held accountable for what they did?" Magness told The Associated Press.
Jeffrey Pine, attorney for Jeffrey Derderian, said, "The bottom line is (the Derderians) have always wanted to compensate the families of their employees. The issue has always been to reach some sort of settlement on that."
Michael St. Pierre, DeMaio's attorney, was cautious about the ruling.
"I think it's going to be difficult to come up with what they have to pay for these four families," he said.
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