It is hard to imagine the fear associated with a fire. Heat and smoke, our natural preservation instincts, and years of fire danger education combine to make a terror beyond anything on the movie screen. Add in a crowded setting and pure panic must set in. Like many others in our community, the team at our Panama City fire injury law firm has been thinking about these moments in light of the recent nightclub fire in Brazil. We've also been thinking about whether a similar disaster could happen in our own region and the legal rights of fire injury victims in Panama City.
Captain Joe Cocco of the Panama City Beach Fire Department recently met with WJHG at the local Spinnaker Beach Club to discuss fire safety issues. The meeting follows last week's horrific night club fire in Brazil, which claimed more than 230 lives and left dozens more seriously injured. Captain Cocco also referenced the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island, a blaze that killed 100, noting that club-goers had only five minutes to escape. He referenced the pyrotechnics used in both Brazil and Rhode Island, and he said that they are against local fire codes. Local nightclubs that hold over 100 people must have fire alarms, a working sprinkler system, and well lit exit signs. Cocco recommended that visitors look for alternate exits when at a club, noting that the front door may become overcrowded in a "crowd crush" as people rush towards the known exit. The article noted that the Panama City Beach Fire Department offers crowd control and fire safety training to local businesses free of charge.
Most of us probably didn't need a reminder that fires are dangerous, but the Santa Maria disaster still brought the threat to the forefront of our minds. A fire can give rise to a number of different dangers. Burn injuries are not only painful, but can be disfiguring and leave the victim vulnerable to life-threatening infection. Smoke inhalation is actually more likely than the flames themselves to cause fire-related death. Additional injuries can arise when fires occur in crowded locations as victims are jostled or even trampled by people fleeing in panic.
Owners and operators are responsible for ensuring their properties are reasonably free from fire hazards. Dangers can include unsafe electrical wiring, faulty appliances, flammable materials, and the failure to provide adequate safety devices such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, or sprinkler systems. When a fire occurs in the absence of proper protections, victims may be able to file a number of civil claims against the property owners. Often these claims are brought using a premises liability theory. A successful premises liability lawsuit requires proof of three primary elements:
We hope we never have to read about another fire disaster like the Brazil nightclub tragedy. We hope that the local fire regulations and the proactive efforts of our local fire departments help prevent fires in local establishments. We also know that smaller fires can still lead to heartbreaking results that include severe injury and even death. Our Panama City fire lawyer represents the victims of these local tragedies. If you are one of these victims, or if you are mourning the loss of a family member in a local fire, please call to discuss Florida premises liability law and other legal theories that we can use to help get you compensation and justice.