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Have an EXIT Strategy

Order Have an EXIT Strategy Material by emailing us at Fire.Marshal@tdi.texas.gov.

Have you ever been at a club or concert where a fire broke out and the smoke was so thick you could barely breathe, much less see two feet in front of you? More than likely you haven't, but in February 2003, over 400 people attending a concert at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, were in that situation and 100 of them lost their lives in a fire. If a fire broke out, would you know how to escape? We're sure most of the 100 attendees who lost their lives thought they could escape the fire by exiting the club the same way they entered, but that was an epic mistake. Concert-goers started running to the front door, shoving and pushing each other; some fell, causing a massive pile of human bodies blocking the door way. (For details on what happened, go to the "Club Fire Video" page.). These people were stuck, seeing and even touching those who had escaped to safety, but not being able to move and get out themselves.

After this tragic event, the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office conducted a fire safety evaluation of 189 nightclubs, bars and dance halls, in eight randomly selected Texas counties, to determine whether fire and life safety violations existed that were similar to those that contributed to the multiple fatality fire at The Station nightclub. Of the 189 establishments we inspected, 182 - 96 percent - had exit violations. This led us to create the "Have an Exit Strategy" initiative, of which this Web site is just one component. Have an Exit Strategy encourages people to know at least two ways out of every building, recognizing that in an emergency, the best way out may not be the way you entered. If patrons of The Station nightclub had known or recognized one of the alternative exits in the building that were not obstructed, their lives may have been saved.

We urge you to spend a few minutes looking over this site and learning from it. Some of the images and videos are disturbing, but the message is clear. The State Fire Marshal's Office continues to inspect and work with bars, clubs, universities and other establishments to ensure they are practicing fire safety and meeting the requirements of the Life Safety Code, but fire and life safety are also your responsibility. When you enter a public place or building, get in the habit of identifying where the Exits are located. And remember, in a fire, the best way out may not be the way you came in. Have an Exit Strategy … it could save your life.


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