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THE IMPORTANCE OF REFUGE

When conducting fire inspections two important things that I look for are AREAS OF REFUGE (protected area in a bldg., such as mall/hospital halls, wings, sectioned off) and MEANS OF EGRESS (clearly marked, unobstructed, visible path, door width, adequate number).

[NIGHTCLUB FIRE DEATHS BANGKOK,THAILAND, COCOANUT CREEK]

Bangkok, Thailand- New Years Eve club fire...killing at least 61 people as they stampeded to escape the raging flames. More than 200 were injured, including 35 foreigners...Victims died from burns, smoke inhalation and injuries during the stampede from the club, which had only one door for the public, police Maj. Gen. Chokchai Deeprasertwit said. Firefighters said a door at the rear was known only to the staff, while an Associated Press reporter saw a third door at one side of the building.

Cocoanut Grove- The Cocoanut Grove was a nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts. On November 28, 1942, the fashionable nightclub burned in what remains the deadliest nightclub fire in United States history, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more. It is also the second-worst single-building fire in American history...As is common in panic situations, many patrons attempted to exit through the main entrance, the same way they had come in. However, the building’s main entrance was a single revolving door, immediately rendered useless as the panicked crowd scrambled for safety. Bodies piled up behind both sides of the revolving door, jamming it to the extent that firefighters had to dismantle it in order to get inside. Other avenues of escape were similarly useless: side doors had been welded shut to prevent people from leaving without settling their bills. A plate glass window, which could have been smashed for escape, was instead boarded up and unusable as an emergency exit. Other unlocked doors opened inwards, rendering them useless against the crush of people trying to escape. Bartender Daniel Weiss and entertainer Goody Goodelle survived the Melody Lounge. By dousing a cloth napkin with a pitcher of water, Weiss was able to escape by crawling through the kitchen and other subfloor areas. Goodelle and several other employees were able to escape by crawling through a barred window in the kitchen. Five survived by taking refuge in a walk-in refrigerator. Fire officials later testified that, had the doors swung outwards, at least 300 lives could have been spared.

(From a sermon by Aaron Johnson, "God, Our Refuge" 1/17/2009)

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