Presentation on theme: "National Construction Safety Team Technical Investigation Plan:"— Presentation transcript:
1 National Construction Safety Team Technical Investigation Plan: The Station Nightclub, W. Warwick, RIWilliam GrosshandlerLead Technical InvestigatorBuilding and Fire Research LaboratoryPresented to the NCST Federal Advisory CommitteeApril 29, 2003
2 The NCST Act requires that we relinquish investigative priority in the event of a criminal investigation. We are assessing how this will affect the Rhode Island investigation and its schedule. The information in the following slides represents our best present thinking but is subject to change.
3 The Station Nightclub Fire When: February 20, 2003Where: West Warwick, RIWhat:pyrotechnics ignited wall covering on stagerapid spread of flames and smokecaptured on WPRI-TV videomain entrance became blocked by people trying to escape99 fatalitiesNIST team on site within 36 hrs.
4 Purpose of W. Warwick Investigation To establish the likely technical cause or causes of the building failure that led to a high number of casualties.Document all technical aspects of event.Recommend, as necessary, specific improvements tobuilding standards, codes and practices based upon thefindings.Recommend any research and other appropriate actionsneeded to improve the structural fire safety of buildings andevacuation procedures.
5 Guiding Principles for Investigation Independent, objective, and within limits of available resourcesConsideration of concerns and issues of all interested partiesEnsuring that evidence is preservedCoordinated with Federal, State and local entitiesInvestigative priority relinquished to law enforcement agenciesconducting ongoing criminal investigationsNo findings of fault nor negligence will be assigned to anyindividual or organization
6 NCST Participation and/or Liaison NIST membersW. Grosshandler (lead)N. BrynerD. MadrzykowskiState/local AgenciesI. Owens, RI State Fire Marshal’sOfficeC. Hall, West Warwick Fire Dept.P. Nolan, RI Dept. of Public HealthE. LaPosta, RI Office of theMedical ExaminerRI Attorney General’s office (to beestablished)RI Office of EmergencyManagement (to be established)Primary Federal Agency LiaisonsK. Kuntz, DHS/FEMA, USFire AdministrationC. Porreca, Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco and FirearmsSecondary Federal agency liaisonsP. Malak, DHS Office forDomestic PreparednessK. Hartmann, DoL OccupationalSafety and Health AdministrationL. Doll, Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention
7 General ApproachExamination of building/fire codes and practices; review of practices used in operation of building & emergency responseIdentification of technical issues, major hypothesesData collectionAnalysis of physical evidenceTesting to provide additional data and verify simulation predictionsSimulation of phenomenaFinal reportRecommended improvements to stds, codes, practices
8 Specific Tasks 1. Establishment of initial conditions 2. Materials testing3. Reconstruction of thermal and tenability environment4. Determination of occupant behavior and egress5. Documentation of emergency response6. Examination of the impact of sprinklers on survivability7. Identification of building and fire codes that warrantrevision
9 1. Establishment of Initial Conditions Information sought:Materials of construction and contentsLocation, size and conditions of doors, windows, and ventilationInstalled fire protection systemsNumber of occupants and their approximate locationsSources:Construction plans, maintenance records, building inspectionsVideos, photographs, news articlesMeasurements/observations of site after the factInterviews with contractors, building owner, employees, survivors, andwitnesses familiar with the operation of building on similar occasions
10 2. Materials TestingExperiments conducted to provide data on materials of construction and contents that affect growth of fire:Convoluted foam, wall paneling, ceiling tiles, carpeting and othermaterials identified as contributing to fuel load inside structureHeat release rate, minimum ignition temperature, smoke productionover range of incident heat fluxesWall and corner fire tests with convoluted-foam-covered wood paneledwalls to develop heat release rate time historiesStandard tests for flammability of plastic materials and standard tests forsurface burning characteristics of building materials on interior finishmaterialsThermal response experiments on exemplar heat detectors
11 3. Reconstruction of Thermal and Tenability Environment Develop computer-based reconstruction of interior fromdimensioned drawings, video, and still photos.Examine impact of varying properties of interior finishes onsmoke and fire spread.Examine impact of ventilation from changes in openings ofdoors and windows.Compare simulation to WPRI-TV videotape and witnesstestimony.Seek information on location/cause of fatalities for eachvictim (from ME’s report) to establish consistency withsimulation.
12 Example Previous Reconstruction: Keokuk, Iowa, 12/22/99Conducted for NIOSH, 6 fatalities (3 children, 3 firefighters)
13 4. Determination of Occupant Behavior and Egress Objective: to better understand impediments to safe egress encountered by occupantsComparison of life safety features in structure with requirements fromthe Life Safety Code.Egress of occupants calculation using simple hydraulic-type models aswell as more complex behavior-based models to compare to tenabilitypredictions from FDS.Examination of parameters that affected egress, including hazardrecognition and response (1st, 2nd, 3rd actions), staff response, bloodalcohol levels of victims, age and sex of occupants, location andidentification of exits, condition of exits, and changing conditions insidestructure (i.e. smoke and heat build-up, loss of lighting)Comparison to similar incidents (e.g., Arundel Park Hall, MD; Chicagonightclub; Fine Line Music Café, MN)
14 5. Documentation of Emergency Response (USFA lead) Collect emergency response data in cooperation with local fire department to document procedures and operation of equipment; identify successful operations and technical difficulties.Records of interest: dispatch logs, recorded radio communications, runlogs, 911 records, data recorded by Fire Department operations andPolice Department, and fire ground positioning of emergency apparatusOperations and function of communications systems, on-site emergencyinformation systems, fire alarm panels, standpipes and fire hoses, andother emergency equipmentData collected from witnesses, those in control of emergencyoperations, and first responders
15 6. Impact of Sprinklers on Survivability Impact on survivability will be examined had sprinkler system been installed, all other conditions being the same.Determine sprinkler design criteria that comply with NFPA 13 for thisoccupancy.Identify recreation from task 3 that provides best match with timelinedeveloped from WPRI-TV video and witness statements.Add sprinkler system to model, and conduct parametric study to suggesthow tenability conditions might have been altered for same initialconditions and ignition sequence.
16 7. Building and Fire Codes that Warrant Revision Review building/fire codes and practices, and examine practices used in operation of building.Recommend specific areas for improvement in building and fire codes, standards and practices based upon technical findings from the other tasks, including areas covered by Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) to NFPAsprinklers in clubs with occupant loads > 300crowd managers and staff training for occupant loads > 250prohibit festival seating without approved life safety evaluation