Incendairy Fire Analysis and Investigation
This project paper involves writing an Investigation Report relative to an actual fire. Please read the following narrative
and then complete and submit your paper according to the project instructions.
On February 20, 2003, a horrific fire at the Station Nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, claimed the lives of
100 patrons attending a rock music venue featuring the band Great White. More than 400 persons were in attendance in a
building having a permitted capacity of around 200. The building was a 1940s wood frame construction that was originally
opened as a nightclub; however, it had undergone numerous remodelings during its 60-plus years of operating under a
variety of venues, and at one time was used as a family style restaurant.
The source of the fire was pyrotechnics, which may have been unpermitted; this is still in dispute. The pyrotechnics ignited
polyurethane foam panels at the back of the small stage. Fire quickly consumed the panels and rapidly spread to the
ceiling, filling the entire structure with deadly smoke and searing heat. Of the more than 400 attendees, 230 received
varying degrees of injuries and 130 or more escaped unharmed. In the end, however, 100 people were lost to thermal
injuries, smoke inhalation, and/or crushing death as bodies piled six feet high at the primary entrance/exit, the front door.
A second exit was quickly obscured by heavy smoke and flame, blocking all attempts of escape.
For this project, you will analyze the thermodynamics of conventional polyurethane foam. First, using an Internet search
engine such as Google, locate one of the many technical reports written in the aftermath of the event described above
to determine the type of foam panel, its manufacturer, the number of panels used at the Station Nightclub, the original
cost of the panels, and if the installation work was properly permitted by the town Fire Marshall, Building Inspector, or
both. These are all functions that would be required of you as a Fire Investigator investigating such a horrific and fatal
Once you have determined the type and manufacturer of the foam, use an Internet search engine to locate the Material
Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for that product. Next, via the Internet or other resource, investigate the physical and chemical
properties of the polyurethane foam panels. Include in your findings the autoignition temperature ranges in Celsius and
Fahrenheit as well as flame spread time per unit of measure, i.e., square inch, square foot. (National Institute of
Standards and Technology [NIST] has an excellent PDF titled “Numerical Simulation of Fire Spread on Polyurethane
Foam Slabs” which can be found on the NIST Web site).
After gathering all data in this simulated fire investigation, you will next write a formal Fire Investigation Report (FIR) in
a professional manner. You will identify the Station Nightclub as your fire scene, using specific data already known
through any of the many published public reports. (Again, NIST is a valuable source of information concerning the
Station Nightclub fire). Your report shall be organized using the following headings (centered and bold):
1. Summary of the Incident
2. Building Construction Type
3. Source of Ignition
4. Source of Polyurethane Foam Panels
5. Technical Data of Polyurethane Foam Panels
6. Violations of Federal, State, or Local Laws
Each of the six segments of your report must be in APA format and must have a minimum of 200 words per segment.
You will be required to properly attribute all data with APA citations at the end of the report, as well as providing in-text
citations as necessary. The report shall be written in a word-processing application such as MS Word.
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