Condolences to the Brasilian people

My thoughts are with the Brazilian people. It is a real tragedy that more than 230 people died in a nightclub fire while many clubbers are wounded and in hospital.

But it is an even greater shock when one realises the number of people who died could have been smaller when there were stricter laws concerning the number of fire exits, or when strict laws existed, they would have been implemented. It seems there was only one fire exit, and thus many people were not able to escape.

It is also unbelievable fire is still used in areas with large numbers of people. And was it not known the ceiling could burn? Even cigarettes can cause fire, let alone fireworks inside a building. But even in shows on TV we see firework within buildings, certainly during New Years eve, thus it is normal we sometimes forget about the dangers as mostly nothing happens. When fire is used during shows, it should be sure ceilings, walls and furniture are at a large distance and fireproof while there should be people ready to stop a possible fire as soon as possible; then shows are controlled and can continue. Although today other techniques can be used that replace real fire and still allow spectacular shows are presented.

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But it is not only in Brasil, also in many other countries safety measures are not good. For instance, last September, 259 workers died in a factory in Pakistan because there were no fire exits and the building had metal grilles on the windows, so people were unable to escape. Afterwards, the anger of people was directed towards the government as safety rules were not strictly implemented.

I hope at least in the Western world we have strict safety laws that are implemented while I hope many developing countries also implement them, although corruption often prevents this. However, sometimes I wonder how save certain clubs are even in the West when I notice the narrow corridors in some places where large numbers of people gather.

I think not only the numbers of exits are important, but also corridors should be width and allow the easy and simultaneous passage of at least three people next to each other. When corridors are too narrow, people can block them when they are panicking, certainly when one person falls, causing other people to fall and thus blocking the corridor. Therefore, I hope not only the numbers of (fire) exits are checked and how easily they can be opened during emergencies but also how easily these (fire) exits can be reached, and this when coming from all areas of the building, thus also from toilets as sometimes corridors leading to them are narrow (in the Brasilian fire, many people died in the toilets).

Certainly in cities where old buildings are re-used as clubs there can be problems as often these buildings were not built to receive large numbers of people. But I realise this is difficult because when a club is regarded as unsafe, it has to close and thus the fun is over, although being traumatised after a fire that kills many people is much worse and last for a life.

Maybe cities should consider to designate some areas within the city as areas where new and safe clubs can be built, in areas where few people live but with good public transport so people can enjoy themselves without disturbing others too much. In Brussels for instance, near the South Station and under the railway maybe some clubs could be opened that are built according to the strictest safety rules while they would be close to the railway and underground station and bus stops and not far from the city centre. As few people live here, clubbers would not disturb anyone while the railway is very thick and thus would insulate the noise. Vauxhall in London is a good example with clubs under the railway and offices and the river on the other side. However, it is for the fire brigade to decide about the safety of these clubs while politicians make general safety rules after listening to the experts (including firemen).

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I hope worldwide people will learn from this fire and improve safety measures to further reduce the likelihood so many people die due to inadequate safety. Of course, risks of fires can never be excluded as even short circuit can cause fire; therefore severe safety rules and safe buildings are needed to reduce the risk or the number of casualties, but without removing all the fun.

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