Anniversary of tragic nightclub fire calls for more sprinkler sy - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Anniversary of tragic nightclub fire calls for more sprinkler systems

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It's been fifteen years since the deadly fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island.

The club went up in flames due to a pyrotechnics malfunction during a rock concert that killed 100 people and injured 200.

Now, some families of those who lost their lives in that fire would like to see more small businesses using sprinkler systems to save lives.

Those families are pushing for a bill that would allow small businesses who are not mandated to install sprinklers to deduct the cost of sprinklers when filing their taxes.

There were no working sprinklers in The Station nightclub at the time of the fire.

After the fire the National Fire Protection Association enacted tough new code provisions for fire sprinklers and crowd management in nightclub type venues.

Keith Makarowski is the General Manager and Co-Owner of Theodore's Blues, Booze, and Barbecue Restaurant and Bar in downtown Springfield.
"After that terrible fire, the local fire departments went around to make sure something like that couldn't happen anywhere else," said Makarowski. 

He told Western Mass News Theodore's already had sprinklers in place before the Rhode Island nightclub fire.

"We also put panic bars on the doors to make sure anyone could get out in an emergency and training classes for emergency exits to the staff so that in any emergency the guest is the top priority," he added. 

Sprinkler systems are costly, and the family's hope that a tax incentive would be a catalyst for more sprinklers being installed.

"Sprinklers are a huge expense and I know a lot of small businesses and bigger businesses don't have that kind of money. Saving lives is a big return, but if there's a tax incentive that's a huge help top a lot of places," Markarowski noted. 

Currently in Massachusetts, sprinklers are required for any commercial structure larger than 7,500 square feet, for night clubs with a certificate of occupancy for more than 100 people, and for a commercial residential properties of three or more families.

"The sprinklers are such an important issue  in an occupancy like that because if a small fire breaks out and it's unchecked," said Springfield Fire Commissioner Bernard Calvi. 

"They save lives, they say property and they save a lot of damage," Calvi continued.  

The provisions of the legislation is for small businesses to write off the full cost of sprinkler purchases under section 179 of the tax code up to a cap of $1 million in each year of expense.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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