Saturday, June 16, 2012

Surviving a Fire

This video of the “The Station” nightclub fire illustrates as well as anything I’ve ever seen how deadly and most impressive, how quickly a fire can kill a hundred people. Literally in less than a minute the fate of the people in there was decided, if they would survive or not and in little over that the place was furiously burning to the ground. The video is painful as it is informative.

Since I’m mentioning this topic I should also cover the economic collapse variation of “The Station” tragic incident,  the “República Cromañón” nightclub fire in Argentina where 194 people died. What were some of the variations? Given the decay in infrastructure and services I often mentioned, some things where made worse. The fire inspector authorities of Buenos Aires had been bribed into authorizing the place in spite of several irregularities. Even worse, the Emergency exits had been chained, locked down so as to avoid people from entering without paying, something done often in Argentina. The windows in the bathrooms, again because of security and because of people sneaking in without paying, had been bricked up completely against regulation, closing yet another possible exit point.

A fire is deadly enough as it is. In a place where safety regulations aren’t followed, flammable materials are used and emergency exits are chained shut it can be even worse.

Tips on what to do:

1)Always know two ways out of any room you enter. The obvious one is the one you entered through, get used to quickly picking up a second one, and keeping in mind which one is closest to you. IN the case of “The Station” nightclub, people headed to the main entrance in spite of having emergency exits closer.
2) Be quick about it. Don’t be worried about looking silly or overreacting. Better to look dumb than dead. What if its nothing? Then there’s no problem, but at least you’ve exercised yourself into reacting, and whenever something does happen you will be moving instead of freezing up and losing valuable seconds.
3)Its almost impossible to avoid stomping and people causing human avalanches. Avoid them as much as you can. Remember the post on safety footware? This would be another example in which tough footware can protect you from people stepping on you, maybe injuring you or causing you to fall. When you fall, people will stomp you or fall over you forming a human plug in bottlenecks where several victims will be crushed to death. Safety footware is also rated to tolerate high temperatures better. That may be a key advantage when things heat up and you’re still looking for a way out.
4)Your hair can catch fire, soak it up if you can while hurrying away from danger. A wet cloth, bandana or t-shirt can be used to protect your face and at least try to breathe better. Many times people die of suffocation in fires rather than burn alive.
Join the forum discussion on this post!


Anonymous said...


I'll add a tip zero here. That is: avoid such places where possible and/or when crowds are likely to be bad. You can't always do it, but it's usually a short list of places where these sorts of things happen where evacuating is very dangerous -- nightclubs, crowded malls (think mega-sales around holidays), movie theaters, banks during an unfolding economic crisis (sorry, couldn't resist), and you could probably add to the list. Most of these places are also bad news from a personal security standpoint in general, so avoiding them is almost always a good idea anyway. Just stay away, and you won't have to worry about escaping during the mad rush for the exits.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Very informative.

Joe said...

Do not use a wet cloth over your mouth or nose if the smoke is "hot" or has potential to be hot as in this video, much better is a dry cloth. The water on the cloth turns to steam, is inhaled, and can cause severe lung injuries. When I first fought brush fires they beat this into us.

FerFAL said...

Excellent tips guys, thanks!

Anonymous said...

If you can't avoid the location, perhaps you might be able to defeat the lock on the exit. There are alot of quick, easy methods to do this, and it beats suffocating to death.

millenniumfly said...

There are reasons why night clubs tend to have an overwhelming number of fatalities, including a massive number of people packed like sardines, very loud so you cannot hear well (it's often dark too), everyone's likely intoxicated and unable to think clearly, etc. Now that I'm older I would never be found in one of those places for the safety reasons alone.

MarkyMark said...

Knowing where the exits are isn't that easy, because nightclubs are often dark. In the case of The Station, yeah, there was an exit by the bar in an adjoining room. HOWEVER, it was painted the same color as the wall, so it wouldn't stand out; it would be difficult to find even with proper lighting. If you factor in smoke so thick that you wouldn't be able to see the fire, let alone the exit signs, then how is someone to get out in a moment's notice?

There are only two answers I have to that question. One is to arrive early, so you can get the 'lay of the land', as it were. Two, as previous commenters said, just AVOID such places! Just from a personal safety standpoint, places like this are dangerous.