Surviving a Fire

This video of the “The Station” nightclub fire illustrates as well as anything I’ve ever seen how deadly and most impressive, how quickly a fire can kill a hundred people. Literally in less than a minute the fate of the people in there was decided, if they would survive or not and in little over that the place was furiously burning to the ground. The video is painful as it is informative.


Since I’m mentioning this topic I should also cover the economic collapse variation of “The Station” tragic incident,  the “República Cromañón” nightclub fire in Argentina where 194 people died. What were some of the variations? Given the decay in infrastructure and services I often mentioned, some things where made worse. The fire inspector authorities of Buenos Aires had been bribed into authorizing the place in spite of several irregularities. Even worse, the Emergency exits had been chained, locked down so as to avoid people from entering without paying, something done often in Argentina. The windows in the bathrooms, again because of security and because of people sneaking in without paying, had been bricked up completely against regulation, closing yet another possible exit point.

A fire is deadly enough as it is. In a place where safety regulations aren’t followed, flammable materials are used and emergency exits are chained shut it can be even worse.

Tips on what to do:
1)Always know two ways out of any room you enter. The obvious one is the one you entered through, get used to quickly picking up a second one, and keeping in mind which one is closest to you. IN the case of “The Station” nightclub, people headed to the main entrance in spite of having emergency exits closer.

2) Be quick about it. Don’t be worried about looking silly or overreacting. Better to look dumb than dead. What if its nothing? Then there’s no problem, but at least you’ve exercised yourself into reacting, and whenever something does happen you will be moving instead of freezing up and losing valuable seconds.

3)Its almost impossible to avoid stomping and people causing human avalanches. Avoid them as much as you can. Remember the post on safety footware? This would be another example in which tough footware can protect you from people stepping on you, maybe injuring you or causing you to fall. When you fall, people will stomp you or fall over you forming a human plug in bottlenecks where several victims will be crushed to death. Safety footware is also rated to tolerate high temperatures better. That may be a key advantage when things heat up and you’re still looking for a way out.

4)Your hair can catch fire, soak it up if you can while hurrying away from danger. A wet cloth, bandana or t-shirt can be used to protect your face and at least try to breathe better. Many times people die of suffocation in fires rather than burn alive.

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Surviving a Fire — 3 Comments

  1. Ferfal,

    Thank you for posting this, we have a daughter who will be going to nightclubs in a year or so and we showed her the first 4 minutes of this so she could see how quickly things go from a fun and good time to really really bad.

    The point we wanted to get across is that if something doesn’t feel right get the hell out of where ever you are. That is the point the cameraman also made in the wikipedia article on the incident, he just felt that he had to get out of there which is why he was one of the survivors.

    My wife and I had a look at the wikipedia article and that had a map of the nightclub, which showed that the kitchen had a exit door . We were thinking that assuming a fire did not start in the kitchen, then the kitchen would make a good exit point as it would not be likley to be subject to a crush point like a main exit would be, and all/vast majority ??? of kitchens have exit points for taking out food waste and rubbish. What do you think ?



    PS : your book is fantastic, especially what to look for as an economy starts to go downhill.

    • Hi Oz, good luck with your daughter!
      I think its a very good point. Its better to go for known exit points, especially the ones that are indicated as such. In most cases its a safe asumtion that a kitchen needs its own entry point for trasg, supplies, etc, but in some cases a kitchne may be more imporvised than that and lack such an exit. Its a pretty good bet, but its better if you can go for the knwon exit point. of course if its getting crushed with people it might be needed to make a call and probably take the risk.

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