Nightclub Co-Owner Reported Dangers of Mattresses With Polyurethane Foam Two Years Ago

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Two years before the deadly blaze at The Station, one of the club's owners did a television report on the fire dangers of mattresses, especially those that contain polyurethane foam -- the same highly flammable material that may have been used for soundproofing at the nightclub.

In the story, Jeff Derderian, then a reporter at WHDH-TV in Boston, noted that the foam was highly flammable and could make mattresses more of a fire danger. The material is commonly found in mattresses and furniture.

Authorities believe soundproofing inside The Station, which Derderian owned with his brother, caught fire during a band's pyrotechnic display on Feb. 20. Flames raced through the one-story wooden building, killing 97 people.

It's not clear what type of material lined the walls at The Station. However, the dealer who sold soundproofing to the nightclub said Friday that the club bought low-density, polyurethane packaging foam, which is cheap and highly flammable.

Neither Derderian nor his lawyer, Jeffrey Pine, returned calls seeking comment Friday night.

It also wasn't clear how similar the packaging foam purchased by The Station was to the foam that Derderian discussed during his television report. Experts say the flammability of polyurethane foam depends on its density and chemical composition.

The "burning beds" report, which aired on the Boston TV station Feb. 18, 2001, was apparently prompted by a deadly house fire that had been caused by a smoldering mattress. A transcript of the report was on WHDH's Web site.

"Another problem is what's inside the mattress, polyurethane foam," Derderian said in the report. "Fire safety experts call this stuff solid gasoline and it can cause a smoldering mattress to burst into flames."

Derderian, 36, worked as a general assignment reporter for WHDH until January, when he left to join WPRI-TV in Providence. He was at The Station the night of the fire with a cameraman working on a report for WPRI about safety in clubs in the wake of the deadly club stampede in Chicago.