Brazil nightclub fire brings up local concerns

Local fire department, nightclub venues say U.S. has strict fire codes

Published On: Jan 30 2013 05:03:59 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 29 2013 11:15:55 AM EST
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

There are new questions Tuesday morning about whether Brazilian authorities can ensure safety in venues after more than 230 people died in a nightclub fire.

Police say a band's pyrotechnics caused the fire.

Brazil is hosting next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, leaving many people questioning the safety of tourists as they visit Brazil's venues.

Investigators are looking at all the exits, and at this point, it appears one door was inadequate, protected by bars that wouldn't open.

Many people even here in America are asking about safety equipment and code compliance at nightclubs and other venues.

Channel 4 spoke to the fire department and a local venue similar in size.

Tom Francis, of Jacksonville Fire-Rescue, said Americans should be very thankful that here in the U.S. there are such strict fire safety codes and standards that all places of business must follow to operate.

These inspections could mean the difference between life or death.

Places like Latitude 30, a popular night spot in Jacksonville must comply to stay open.O

On any given night at Latitude 30, there can be up to 1,500 people inside.

Lit exits, a sounding alarm, working fire extinguishers and a safety measure that cuts the music off and turns the lights on immediately are all in place in case of a fire or other emergency.

"For us, we have 10 emergency exits in this building alone," chief marketing officer of Latitude Global Philip Alia said. "All of our venues have something very similar, and we have a fire extinguisher every 40 feet. So do I think that was the case in Brazil? I'm afraid probably not."

Reports already indicate there was no fire alarm, no sprinklers, no signed escaped doors and fire extinguishers that didn't work at the Kiss Nightclub in Brazil when a fire broke out Saturday morning.

"The tragedy in Santa Maria, Brazil is undeniably once again in a horrific fashion," Francis said. "Emphasizes the absolute necessity for adherence and enforcement of all life safety code and fire prevention objectives."

All public buildings, restaurants, stores and other businesses must pass a fire inspection every year to stay open in the United States.

If a place doesn't pass inspection, it must stay closed and can face fines until fixed.

Many probably remember the very delayed opening of the new courthouse because it failed inspection -- a testament to how seriously these safety measures are taken here.

"I think it's important to understand that these inspections as we're quite familiar with are unpopular," Francis said. "Often times viewed as possibly a disingenuous form of revenue stream. But nothing could be further from the truth."