Death Toll in Club Fire Drops, But Could it Happen Here? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/27/03

Death Toll in Club Fire Drops, But Could it Happen Here?

   The death toll in the Rhode Island night club fire dropped to 96 Thursday. The announcement came hours after a federal agency said it was launching a formal probe into the fire.

   The band Great White continues to say they had permission to launch pyrotechnics. Club owners deny giving their consent.

   Joe Lamb who runs Pyrotechnics by Lamb in Kilgore says his industry is one of the most regulated in America. Though pyrotechnics are blamed for starting the night club fire, Lamb says the devices are not something people should fear.

   "If you fear something, fear the lack of safety," Lamb says.

   Lamb believes lack of safety is exactly what got The Station club in trouble.

   "If they were shooting a 15-foot device in a room with a 9-foot ceiling, the device was just belting the roof with heat and flame."

   Lamb says in Texas, pyrotechnic operators are required to carry licenses and follow a set of guidelines. The bible to operators is a book of codes called NFPA 1126.

   "It's what any close-proximity show should follow," Lamb says. According to Lamb, industry insiders believe whoever regulated Great White's pyrotechnics knew little about the guidelines.

   "One of them was asked about it, and they said what is 1126?" recalls Lamb. "So, obviously, 1126 wasn't followed."

   Lamb believes whoever sold the band devices without checking the operator's experience dropped the ball.

   "There's always people who will bend the rules and sneak around and sell products that are not legal," he says.

   But Lamb says more laws are not the answer.

   "The industry is already heavily regulated. I don't think more regulation is going to solve this. I think its an ethics problem," he says.

   The tragedy has prompted one Texas Senator to propose a new bill on pyrotechnics. Under the bill's guidelines, all facilities using the devices will need a permit. The bill will not affect areas where permits are already required.

   Kerri Panchuk, reporting.

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