Emergency Inspections for Rhode Island Nightclubs

About 200 deputy fire marshals were scheduled to fan out across the state for emergency inspections of clubs similar in size to the one engulfed by a deadly inferno last week.

Gov. Don Carcieri announced the inspections of "Class C" establishments at a press conference Sunday evening, and said authorities would start the inspections Monday and later move on to larger venues such as sports arenas and theaters.

"Right now, we're just concentrating on these kinds of facilities that are tending to cater to kids and these musical groups," Carcieri said.

Carcieri also announced a moratorium on pyrotechnic displays at Class C venues, which accommodate between 50 and 300 people. State officials couldn't say how many clubs of that size are in the state.

"The objective is to submit inspection reports on all those immediately," Carcieri said.

The blaze Thursday night at The Station in West Warwick was apparently sparked by a rock band's pyrotechnics. Ninety-seven people were killed.

The nightclub passed a fire inspection last Dec. 31. When asked if the moratorium implied that state regulations were not adequate, Carcieri said "That's very possible."

"Our goal is to assess what we have, make sure we have no venues that have similar issues," he said.

Officials around the country launched aggressive inspection campaigns over the weekend in the wake of the West Warwick fire.

In Chicago, where 21 people were trampled at the E2 nightclub Feb. 17, inspectors evacuated the second floor of a club early Sunday after finding overcrowding, blocked exits and other problems.

A rock band competition planned for Salem, Ore., was canceled after an inspection there revealed the venue didn't meet fire and building codes.

And other cities, including Dallas and Kansas City, Mo., put more inspectors on duty and kept them out until the early hours Saturday and Sunday, when clubs are most crowded.