Fire regulations at local bars stricter after 2003 RI fire - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Fire regulations at local bars stricter after 2003 RI fire

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Ten years ago, 100 people including 30 from Massachusetts were killed in a nightclub fire in Rhode Island.

Now through strict statewide regulations local bar owners and fire departments are trying to make sure a tragedy of that magnitude does not happen again.

"There's a lot of things that you take for granted sometimes, you know what I mean," said Brian Faille, general manager at Maximum Capacity in Chicopee.

The safety of himself and his patrons is not something Faille will ever take for granted again, after the deadly fire at The Station Nightclub in Rhode Island changed safety regulations forever.

Like others in the industry, he has seen firsthand the changes that have been made to bars here and across the state.

"We check updates on fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, we make sure all exits are free and cleared of debris," he said.

Today, bars like Maximum Capacity have to go through training, assign a crowd control manager, post the club's occupancy in plain view and have clearly lit exit signs.

"This keeps everything in light every day for us," Faille said.

That wasn't the case 10 years ago.

The Rhode Island club had a wood frame, flammable curtains and flammable foam insulation in the ceiling and when the band's pyrotechnics display went wrong, the place lit up in a matter of minutes.

Today, fire officials like those in Chicopee do annual and spot inspections on local bars to make sure they're following the law.

"We certainly don't want to see a tragedy like that ever again," said Capt. Mark Galarneau, fire prevention officer with the Chicopee Fire Department.

Each year, the regulations get a little stricter.

"There's a $10,000 fine and it escalates from there on occurrences to loss of your license in the state of Massachusetts," Galarneau said.

Faille admits that the regulations now mean more work, but he says it's well worth the effort to prevent a tragedy like that from ever happening again.

"If they're informed and they're aware of that sort of thing then it makes it safer for everyone," he said.

Bar owners also told CBS 3 that any tablecloths or curtains they buy must also be flame resistant, and the fire department does random checks on those as well.

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