Clubs need to update safety regulations
In the early hours of Sunday morning, at least 235 young adults lost their lives in a fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil. Tears have been shed, but from the ashes, an opportunity to create a safer, more civil, less rule-bending community should be salvaged â€” not just at the club, but in international society at large.
The current details revealed have raised some eyebrows. That night, a crowd of 2,000 people â€” more than Kissâ€™s legal capacity of 691 â€” packed the club to hear the band Gurizada Fandangueira play.
According to CNN, â€śduring their performance, the band used pyrotechnics that they were knew were for outdoor use only,â€ť opting â€śto buy this particular firework because it was cheaper than the indoor-use kind.â€ť When the fireworks set off, the ceiling caught on fire and things spiraled out of control. In the aftermath, investigators said they found evidence of faulty and fake fire extinguishers at the club, which had expired fire and municipal licenses.
Given this scenario, itâ€™s easy to begin finger-pointing. Was it the clubâ€™s fault? The bandâ€™s fault?
Maybe even the clubgoers themselves? What about the security personnel that supposedly blocked clubgoers from leaving because they thought that revelers were trying to skip out on their bills? In search of an explanation, people will blame it on overcrowding, irregularities in the construction of the nightclub and so on. So far, four people have been arrested â€” a band member, the show producer and two club owners.
Though it is only fair that someone should be punished for an obviously fixable mistake, focusing on the blame game does not solve anything or move the issue forward so that future tragedies can be prevented. The only way to not let this tragedy have happened in vain is to do something to change, to push forward, learn and never forget.
Of course, outdoor pyrotechnics should be banned from closed spaces. Of course, a place with the capacity to fit this many people should not be overcrowded for any reason. Of course, there should always be more than one fire exit to buildings. But to condemn the staff and owners of Kiss just shows that weâ€™re not looking at the bigger picture.
The tragedy that has befallen the Kiss nightclub could have happened anywhere, and itâ€™s time for a wake-up call for all clubs and public event spaces worldwide to reform and become more aware of the consequences of ignoring safety measures.
If not, the issue will become a vortex of guilt and destruction, as recent news of one of Kissâ€™ club owners attempted suicide already demonstrates. The suicide attempt happened while he was being held under police guard at a hospital, where he is being treated for smoke inhalation.
Moving beyond self-blame to really do something about the issue at hand is key. Let this tragedy be a wake-up call to spark change for all clubs, to raise awareness of true danger and to set up precautions so that people having fun can be safe rather than sorrowful.
Valerie Yu is a freshman majoring in biological sciences and English. Her column â€śHeart of the Matterâ€ť runs Fridays.