On 13th Anniversary of Station Nightclub Fire: Rebel Lounge Fire Underscores The Difference Fire Sprinklers Make

Feb 19, 2016, 16:04 ET from National Fire Sprinkler Association

PATTERSON, N.Y., Feb. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The controversy over the fire at the Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, Ariz., on Saturday will rage on a lot longer than the fire did thanks to the quick response of the fire alarm system, the fire sprinkler system, the employees and patrons of the business, and the fire department.

Last weekend, a band at the nightclub used a flammable liquid at the front of the stage. The fire sprinkler closest to the fire activated and extinguished the fire. No one was injured in the event.

The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) commends, not only those involved in the fire event that occurred Saturday, Feb. 13, but those local officials who were responsible for adopting requirements for fire sprinkler systems.

Ironically, the Phoenix fire occurred within a week of the 13th anniversary of the Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I. That conflagration, also caused by band pyrotechnics, claimed the lives of 100 people and injured 230 more. One big difference between the two events – the Station nightclub did not have a fire sprinkler system.

John Barylick, author of "Killer Show, The Station Nightclub Fire, America's Deadliest Rock Concert," said, "Unfortunately, humans can be very slow learners when it comes to playing with fire in places of public assembly – witness this week's near-tragedy at the Rebel Lounge.  Fortunately, local officials there had enacted common-sense sprinkler requirements, and disaster was averted.  Code enforcement may not be the sexiest aspect of the fire service, but it can yield the most bang for the buck."

Meanwhile, back in Phoenix last week, some customers complained about the show's being stopped. One Rhode Island survivor offered his own insights.

"As a survivor of the Station nightclub fire, I want to tell everyone who is upset because the fire sprinkler activation stopped the show, be thankful for that," explained Rob Feeney, who lost his fiancée and received second and third-degree burns and internal damage which never heals. "Fire is fast, and while you think you can escape, I'm here to tell you it's too fast. We must unite in support of fire sprinklers so that we can have more saves like the one at the Rebel Lounge last weekend."

Dan Madrzykowski, now with Underwriters Laboratory but formerly with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is even more blunt.

"Ask any survivor who has escaped a fire, and they will tell you it's much easier to dry something out, but it's impossible to unburn something," he said.

Madrzykowski was with NIST at the time of the Station Nightclub Fire and conducted tests that recreated the Station Nightclub Fire.

"Given the timing of this fire, it's gratifying to see that a single fire sprinkler worked as expected and saved so many lives," he concluded.

"I applaud the owners of the Rebel Lounge, the City of Phoenix and RCI Systems for doing the right thing – ensuring the safety of citizens," said NFSA President Shane Ray. "Because the local community was best able to determine the level of fire safety acceptable for its citizens and occupants of a business, lives were saved and property damage was reduced."

Sprinkler systems save lives. It really is just that simple.

According to a recent National Fire Protection Association study, when sprinklers operated, they were effective 96 percent of the time, resulting in a combined performance of operating effectively in 87 percent of all reported fires where sprinklers were present in the fire area and fire was large enough to activate them.

"As an association that represents those who manufacture, supply and install fire sprinklers, we are always on the lookout for examples of fire sprinkler saves," Ray said.

Aaron Bennett, vice president at RCI Systems, Inc., installed the sprinkler system at the Rebel Lounge. Bennett is also a board member at NFSA.

"It is always a great day when a sprinkler system operates in the way in which it was intended. This situation at the Rebel Lounge could have been tragic if not for the fire sprinkler system," Bennett said. "We are thankful that the fire sprinklers allowed everyone enough time to evacuate the building and that everyone in attendance was able to make it home safely to their loved ones."

For more than 100 years, the NFSA has been dedicated to protecting lives and property through the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept. We will continue to work with our members, the construction industry and citizens to find new technologies, expand training and increase public awareness about this important subject. More information about fire sprinkler safety can be found at www.nfsa.org.

Fire sprinklers buy time. Time buys life.

Contact Vickie Pritchett if you are interested in scheduling an interview regarding this release.
John Barylick's book is available at Amazon in paperback or e-book versions.

CONTACT:  Vickie Pritchett, 615-533-0305

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SOURCE National Fire Sprinkler Association