To: Head of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date: April 24, 2003
Re: Public Forums on Fire and Building Safety

On February 20, 2003, a devastating fire occurred in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Unfortunately, the results of this fire, leaving 99 people dead, will be added as one of the ten deadliest on the list of large loss of life fires in the United States.

At the request of Governor Mitt Romney, a Task Force on Fire and Building Safety has been convened to review fire and building safety in places of assembly. The goal of this task force is to look at four main issues surrounding nightclub environments to ensure that a similar event would not happen in the Commonwealth.

Governor Mitt Romney has asked the task force to look at the following four initiatives:

  1. Expansion of the use of fire sprinklers including the retrofitting of existing buildings
  2. Review of egress requirements and occupancy limits
  3. Further regulating and/or eliminating the use of pyrotechnics in entertainment venues as well as enhancing criminal penalties for violations of these laws
  4. Review of existing regulations relative to flammable decorations and interior finishes

This task force will hold four public forums for public safety officials, owners and managers of entertainment venues, as well as the general public. The attached information sheets provide additional details on the first two public forums. The goal of the task force is to have four public forums across the Commonwealth, one each in Springfield (May 5), Worcester (May 12), Boston (May 21) and Cape Cod (June 4).

We invite you to participate in one of these public forums in your area and would ask that you pass this information on to members of the public, restaurant, club, and theatre owners in your community. Particular effort should be made to distribute this information to the small venue owners.