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Following the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in Rhode Island, a National Construction Safety Team (NCST) was established to determine the cause of the fire and how to prevent future disasters. The NCST used both small-scare and full-scale models to recreate the conditions of the deadly fire. Computer simulations also helped explore specific details of the fire's cause and it's rapid spread. Temperature and smoke conditions were also evaluated by the NCST as these conditions contributed to deaths during the blaze.
Ultimately, the NCST reported its findings to the National Institute of Standards and TEchnology, which came up with several recommendations to improve fire safety in nightclubs. These included adding automatic sprinklers in any nightclub with a capacity of more than 100 people, forbidding flammable materials as interior finishing in a nightclub, and reassessing the number of exits / occupancy limits to accomodate for faster fire escape times. The NIST also called for continued research of human behavior during fires and the process by which fire spreads.
Based on these reccommendations, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) enacted new codes regarding occupancy limits, sprinkler placement, and emergency crowd management. These codes include NFPA 101 Life Safety Code and NFPA 5000 Building Construction & Safety Code. The specific changes called for in these documents are:
- fire sprinklers in new nightclubs and similar assembly occupancies and in existing facilities that accommodate more than 100
- building owners to inspect exits to ensure they're free of obstructions and to maintain records of each inspection
- The presence of at least one trained crowd manager for all gatherings, except religious services. For larger gatherings, additional crowd managers are required at a ratio of 1:250
- Prohibit festival seating for crowds of more than 250 unless a life-safety evaluation approved by the authority having jurisdiction has been performed. Festival seating, according to NFPA 101®, is a form of audience/spectator accommodation in which no seating, other than a floor or ground surface, is provided for the audience to gather and observe a performance
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