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Brazil nightclub fire: No show is worth your life
Fire can prove to be extremely disastrous, especially when people are trapped inside an over-packed auditorium with hardly any escape routes. This happened at the Kiss Nightclub in Santa Maria (southern Brazil) where over 230 people, mostly teenagers, were kissed to death by the leaping flames that sparked from a deadly fireworks display.

The blaze broke out on last Sunday when students from many Brazilian universities were celebrating the end of summer and preparing to return to classes on Monday. Instead, they were lifted to their heavenly abode by the fiery hands of death.

It may be mentioned that Santa Maria is home to the Federal University of Santa Maria as well as a number of other private universities and colleges. It all happened within minutes when a rock band ignited the fireworks (pyrotechnics) in the overcrowded nightclub. Soon the sound proofing on the ceiling and walls caught fire. Laughter turned into shrieks, merriment into puzzlement, panic and then horror. In fact the fire and the panic both were in a neck- and- neck race enveloping hundreds of young lives. This could be regarded as yet another deadly fire-cum-stampede which sent shock waves round the world, especially in our own Maha Kumbh Mela, which witnessed mini-fires only the other day.

Why did this happen? Why does it happen over and over again? Why don’t we learn any lesson from the previous fires? Have we tried to prevent improper use of indoor fireworks without ensuring that there is nothing flammable around? Have we done anything to check gross overcrowding and punish the owners of the premises having, inadequate fire suppression devices such as automatic sprinklers; inadequate exits; poorly trained auditorium staff?

Also, responsible for this was the greed to sell more tickets, to sell spectacle, to save money on decorations and soundproofing, and to employ bouncers cheaply. The authorities concerned should remember that it is not enough to enact fire codes; they must be enforced.

In India, marriage-hall owners should be required, as part of the permit process, to train their staff to direct patrons to the exits in the event of an emergency. Available exits should be opened. There should be stiff penalties for exceeding the occupancy rate of a venue. It’s too tempting for show organizers, especially when a film star is to be present too, to sell as many tickets as possible. If the penalty for overcrowding is harsh enough to be a true deterrent, many lives may be saved. But even if harsh laws are enacted, what is the guarantee that they won’t be flouted because of a lax and corrupt enforcement system?

It is a pity that in spite of fire threats, pre-show announcements of available exits are hardly made. Why don’t the authorities realize that fires can still be deadly in places of public assembly? The physical agony of those injured might be forgotten but the emotional agony for the survivors may last a lifetime. Thanks to the alarming frequency with which fire accidents are taking place, it is high time that people realize that they cannot count on bands, concert promoters, club owners, -- or even fire officials -- to ensure their safety.

Let us be our own fire marshals. To be safe, one must consider all the pros and cons before stirring out to attend a function in a jam-packed enclosure or auditorium. If one feels it is risky or dangerous, one must not go because no show is worth one’s life.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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