There's More... Consider this:
The Club, which was once a restaurant, received a concert occupancy permit for 300 people (a larger number than normal) providing the owners removed the tables. Nonetheless, the fire exits were rated for a lesser number and most likely an orderly evacuation... But, exiting a burning inferno is not like a school-day fire drill going two by two. The most basic human instinct -- "Fight or Flight" -- takes over. The stacked bodies and survivors' personal accounts attest that paniced people did both: They fought to take flight!
So, no new exits were added for the concert and the numbers attending. This, alone should have mandated a special pre-concert fire inspection and the requirement for of five detail firefighters, in uniform; one to be at the front door for head count, and one at each of the four fire exits. There is no account that there was even one fire detail retained for the evening!
Thus,the building was "waived" out of safety compliance (and perhaps even public health compliance such as with toilet/patron ratios). The firefighters' knowledge of all exits, their acclimation to being in fire/heat/smoke, and their position of authority would have benefitted a safer evacuation. Further at least three police details should also have been present at the club... two inside, one in the parking lot. One will note long-neck beer bottles -- potential weapons in a fight (or fight to flee) raised in the crowd. Better yet, all beer should have been served in plastic cups (Sidenote: It has been later learned that there was a police detail present.)
Though I've not been in the club, from footage and drawings I see that there was an island bar in the back of the club. A fire exit existed behind the island bar. There are two matters, one which is observable from videos of the charred ruins... the other which was burned to the ground is not known, but suspected.
Observed: The stools at the bar were not fixed; they were moveable stools that had not only open legs but supporting rungs. These stools are fire escape hazards for not only tipping over, but entrapping legs. Movable stools should not be allowed along, or about, a fire exit. The fire codes / inspections should prohibit this arrangement.
Uncertain: Of the other matter I am uncertain by video. However, many island and horseshoe-shaped bars have overhead cabinets or devices for hanging glasses, which normally follow the contour of the bar. Were this the fact, these devices would have obscured the back EXIT sign (approximately 7 feet high)... this exit being the furthest from the stage and the last fire exit to be obscured by smoke.
PYRO BY TYROS
Disregarding for a moment the current tragedy, it is now seems clear that other bands have fired up pyrotechnics at the club under the current and previous owners. Since it has not been reported that the club had been previously cited, one could assume that it never has been. Also, there has been no mentioned how many previous times pyrotechnics have been lit and whether the club at any time had failed to file for permits.
Strict education and compliance appears missing. Regarding alcohol regulations, only fool owners don't comply, especially around matters that threaten their license. "Closing Time" is a very good example. In most communities, police cruise the bars to check compliance. Regarding pyro, just from other band reports, one doubts that strict compliance has not been enforced. "Policing" is not just a verb reserved for crime! Fire codes need to be policed beyond periodic inspections.
Even when I was in high school (we're talking years ago), flame retarding stage sets and scrims for our school plays was required. These were then tested, not just inspected, by the fire department. So it is old knowledge that any curtains, or materials on or about any stage should be flame retarded, inspected and TESTED. Even after a club owner's declarations, pictures should be on file at the fire department against which any changes would be noted. Neither the addition of foam (from a previous inspection) was noted by the fire department, so certainly no flame test was ever taken.
This leads one to ask whether the owners were ever made aware of the need for this reporting. Dumb as it may seem, and as the owners may have been in adding the foam, it is not clear whether there was/is a State Fire Marshal's or Town Fire Chief's code book which is given to every owner that informs them of the requirements. If this absence is real...then one must ask, "How does an owner get as well inform informed of fire regulations as they are with liquor regulations?
There were past fire inspections... one as recent as last December. Some improvements were required. Yet, it's reported that fire extinguishers were not on stage (one of the improvements). Disregarding for a moment even the surprise of the pyro, does it not seem logical that at the time the owners filed for a special occupancy permit, the fire department would have demanded to reinspect the building to see whether the code violations were at least satisfied? Though owners have a responsibility to maintain a compliant building... is it not also the responsibility of the fire (and police) department to BE THE WATCHDOG that assures that compliance under the good shepherd concepts of "serving and protecting?" The public's trust is placed with these authorities... If they cannot be relied upon, who can the public trust...the capitalistic owner? Not likely!
Pyrotechnics are the dramatic cause of The Station fire, but an electrical spark or an short (not to mention a cigarette) could have caused a similar fire considering the acoustic foam.
As there are other states, such as California, which have strict fire laws (even acknowledged outside the firefighting community by people such as contractors, suppliers, owners, etc.), where this tragedy just would not occur, there is a model for this one to have been avoided. The successful state models were not copied.