A federal agency has fined Great White and the owners of the Station for the fire that burned down the Rhode Island club in February.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration penalized Derco LLC, the company that owned the venue, $82,200 for alleged violations of federal workplace safety laws. Of that sum, $70,000 was for failing to take care of a prior violation. Three months before the inferno, a West Warwick fire inspector cited the club for having an exit door near the nightclub stage that opened inward instead of outward.
The company was also fined for the highly flammable foam, which was being used for soundproofing, on the club walls and around the rear-exit door near the stage. In addition, OSHA noted that an exit door by the stage was hard to find because it was covered by the foam; the venue building had no emergency action plan written up and no fire prevention plan; employees were not trained to assist in the event of an evacuation; and employees were not told about the present fire hazards.
So far, Derco, LLC, which was formed by club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, has been hit with almost $1.15 million in federal and state fines. In April, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training penalized them $1.06 million for not providing their employees with mandatory workers’ compensation insurance (see “Owners Of Rhode Island’s Station Club Fined $1.06 Million” ).
Attorneys for the Derderians did not return calls.
OSHA also fined the Great White corporation, Jack Russell Tour Inc., $7,000 for jeopardizing the safety of employees of the Station by shooting off pyrotechnics in the club. The showers of sparks ignited the soundproofing foam, and the fire quickly spread, burning the building down in minutes.
Great White’s attorney plans to appeal OSHA’s decision.
“Great White didn’t do anything 40 other bands didn’t do at that club,” the band’s lawyer, Ed McPherson, said. “The only thing that made their performance unsafe was the polyurethane on the fire exits and the walls, which ignites faster than gasoline.”
McPherson added that the sparklers Great White used, called “gerbs,” shoot cold sparks, and that the band’s singer, Jack Russell, has routinely stood directly under them without getting burned or having his clothing singed.
“The pyro was safe, but when you add that kind of thing to polyurethane, which only the club owners knew was there, that causes a horrible tragedy.”
The Station fire killed 100 people, including four employees of the club and an additional three people working there that night (see “At Least 96 Dead At Rock Show Fire” ).
The OSHA fines were levied after a six-month-long investigation by the organization’s Providence-area office. Research involved location inspections, interviews and a review of numerous files and records.
A criminal investigation into the Station fire is ongoing and civil suits continue to pile up (see “Great White Likely To Escape Criminal Charges In Fire Case” ).