Nightclub fire in Brazil kills over 200 people: Why do incidents like these still happen?

This morning, at around 2am (4am GMT), a fire broke out in brazilian nightclub and killed over 230 people, with many of the dead suspected to be students.


In my second year at University I wrote an essay on event safety with reference to safety in Nightclubs, for my risk assessment module. I have decided to feature part of that essay below.

“Something that has recently been highlighted both in the UK and Europe is the safety of people in Nightclubs. Since the event at Northampton Nightclub earlier this year, where 2 young women were crushed to death (BBC News, 2011) more is being done to work on making sure emergency services in the UK are more prepared for disasters that may occur. On the 13th December 2011 there was a big exercise with the fire service, police, paramedics and emergency planners in a nightclub in Gloucester (BBC News, 2011) that was described as a vital way for the fire service and others to be prepared for situations that could occur (BBC News, 2011).

Fire is considered the biggest risk in nightclubs but the UK has strict guidelines that clubs have to follow including a fire safety certificate, paperwork relating to the electrics in the club and the ceilings and a regular risk assessment that identifies the capacity limit and an evacuation plan that is feasible (BBC News, 2011). The way that the UK regulates clubs means that even if a fire breaks out the event doesn’t always end in disaster, in April 2011 a fire broke out in a Cheltenham nightclub; at the time there were around 200 students in the premises however as quoted on the BBC News article (2011) “the quick action of the nightclub staff…prevented [it from] becoming a much more serious incident.”

However outside Europe the guidelines on nightclubs and fire safety are not as strong nor are they regulated quite so much, incidents such like the one in Cheltenham have ended in people dying and the closure of those clubs. In 2009 there was an event in Russia that resulted with 112 people dying (BBC News, 2009) after hundreds of people became trapped inside the nightclub – Lame Horse – which had no proper fire exits, sprinkler system or emergency lights (BBC News, 2010) after a firework was set off indoors. The reason why the event ended in disaster was down to the failure of the nightclub owner for not observing the fire regulations and for using a firework that was not only intended for outdoor use but was too big for the premises. (BBC News, 2009) In this disaster it is obvious to see who is to blame and why the disaster happened, after the fire was put out the nightclub owner was one of the several people arrested (BBC News, 2009) and charged with manslaughter after Prime Minister Putin stated that such a attitude to ignore obvious safety regulations should qualify as negligence (BBC News, 2009).

This disaster could have been avoided and due to such high public outrages Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu called for spot checks to be carried out on all nightclubs in Russia before the end of the year (BBC News, 2009). This event was seen around the world and since the recent disasters in nightclubs around Europe and the UK Tim Roberts, whose company is responsible for the safety at Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading and Latitude festivals, told the BBC that he thought is was absolutely wrong that we might have to wait for more deaths before the inspection and management of nightclubs is changed (BBC News,  2011).” 

Kobrak, C (2011) ‘With reference to a range of public events, critically identify the reasons why some have ended in disaster and the lessons learnt as a result.’ [Essay for Risk Assessment Module]

It is a deep shame that after previous tragedies in nightclubs from similar situations that something like this has happened again. The reason for the start of the fire at Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria is apparently down to a firework set off by the band – the fire spread within minutes causing widespread panic amongst the people inside. Reports are suggesting that there was only one open exit and entrance which is shocking for a club that had around 300-500 people inside.

This is an incredibly sad incident to happen & I only hope that it increases the awareness needed for stronger nightclub safety regulations.

Let me know your thoughts on this @imdamnstudent or in the comments below.