3846 people have died in nightclub fires

Since 1940 around the world 34 fires have caused a total of 3846 deaths in clubs. The latest fire only two days ago in Oakland, California (USA) killed at least 33 people. We still had fresh in our minds the blaze a year ago in Romania (Colective Club in Bucharest), where 64 people were killed. The more severe tragedy was in 1942 at the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts (USA), with 491 fatalities.

Fires causing deaths in nightclubs and party halls could have been avoided if international nightlife safety and security standards were implemented and if there had been more control on illegal activities like a warehouse in Oakland converted into a concert hall.

Here are the results from data gathered by the International Nightlife Association:

  • 23/04/1940 – “Natchez” Party hall, Mississippi (USA) – Killed: 198
  • 28/11/1942 – “Cocoanut Grove” Nightclub, Boston (USA) – Killed: 491
  • 01/12/1970 – “Cinq Sept” Club, Saint Laurent de Pont (France) – Killed: 146
  • 13/05/1972 – Nightclub, Osaka (Japan) – Killed: 116
  • 03/08/1973 – “Douglas Club”, Isla de Man (United Kingdom) – Killed: 53
  • 03/11/1974 – Party Hall, Seul (South Korea) – Killed: 154
  • 28/05/1977 – “Beverly Hills" Cabaret, Southgate, Kentucky (USA) – Killed: 164
  • 10/10/1978 – “Caracas” Nightclub (Venezuela) – Killed: 25
  • 22/11/1980 – “Casino Gran Hotel MGM”, Las Vegas (USA) – Killed: 84
  • 14/02/1981 – “Stardust” Nightclub, Dublin (North Ireland) – Killed: 49
  • 17/12/1983 – “Alcala 20” Nightclub, Madrid (Spain) – Killed: 82
  • 14/01/1990 – “Flying” Nightclub, Zaragoza (Spain) – Killed: 43
  • 23/03/1990 – “Happy Land” Nightclub, Bronx (USA) – Killed: 87
  • 27/11/1994 – Nightclub, Fuxin (China) – Killed: 234
  • 17/02/1995 – “Taichung” Karaoke (Taiwan) – Killed: 67
  • 18/03/1996 – “Ozone” Nightclub, Manila (Philippines) – Killed: 152
  • 30/1071998 – “Macedonia Association”, Gothenburg (Sweden) – Killed: 63
  • 20/10/2000 – “Lobohombo” Nightclub, DF (Mexico) – Killed: 20
  • 27/12/2000 – “Luoyang” Nightclub (China) – Killed: 320
  • 20/07/2002 – “Utopia” Nightclub, Lima (Peru) – Killed: 29
  • 12/10/2002 – “Bali” Nightclub (Indonesia) – Killed: 202
  • 30/10/2002 – “Ho Chi Minh” Party Hall (Vietnam) – Killed: 100
  • 01/12/2002 – “La Guarija” Nightclub, Caracas (Venezuela) – Killed: 47
  • 20/02/2003 – “Station” Club, West Warwick, Rhode Island (USA) – Killed: 100
  • 09/07/2003 – “Punta Arenas” Nightclub (Chile) – Killed: 3
  • 30/12/2004 – “República Cromañón” Nightclub, Buenos Aires (Argentina) – Killed: 193
  • 27/11/2006 – “Yersey” Nightclub, Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) – Killed: 9
  • 19/04/2008 – “Factory” Nightclub, Quito (Ecuador) – Killed: 19
  • 02/01/2009 – “Bangkok” Nightclub (Thailand) – Killed: 60
  • 04/12/2009 – “El Cavall Coix" Nightclub, Perm (Russia) – Killed: 156
  • 25/08/2011 – “Casino Royal”, Monterrey (México) – Killed: 52
  • 27/01/2013 – “Kiss” Club, Santa Maria (Brazil) – Killed: 231
  • 30/10/2015 – “Colective” Club, Bucharest (Romania) – Killed: 64
  • 02/12/2016 – “Ghost Ship” Nightclub, Oakland (USA) - 33 killed (provisional death toll)

We have been emphasizing this over the last three years, when the fire at “Kiss” nightclub in Brazil killed 232 people. We insisted again last year when a fire at “Club Colective” in Bucharest killed 64 people.

Safety measures at nightlife venues must be strictly controlled. Since 2013 we have been developing an International Nightlife Safety Seal which among other security requirements demands ceiling, decoration and other elements be fireproof. If not, they can be lethal in contact with fire and most attendees die trapped due to asphyxia. This tragically occurred again in Brazil two years ago at Kiss nightclub and in Rumania last year (Club Colective) and now it’s happened again, but this time in the USA.

The aim of the International Nightlife Association is to introduce the “International Nightlife Safety Seal” to guarantee patron´s safety inside venues. We inspect clubs to verify if they meet our necessary security measures and basic prevention requirements for certification.

These include:

- Clearly lit emergency routes, corridors, door and exits
- Flame retardant and fire-resistant structure, construction, decorative elements and furnishings
- Smoke detectors and sprinklers
- Non-flammable insulation
- Trained security personnel
- Fire extinguishers checked regularly and other instruments to ensure patrons safety...

As we understand, party organizers promoted the event weeks in advance and the venue had also been reported. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Hrabko, main organizer of the event had been promoting the party for weeks on Facebook as an “insane lineup” of electronic dance music performers. “Come catch this set before it disappears,” one person posted. “Holler!. “Getting pretty pumped up for this rager Friday! Oakland! Don’t sleep!” posted another.

Tragedies, like this one in Oakland, unfairly damage the nightlife industry’s image worldwide. People may think nightclubs are not safe, which is not true, so we strongly recommend all nightclubs worldwide, with their respective governments help implement the International Nightlife Security Seal in order to show party goers they’re at a safe venue. This seal is an international security - license or certificate - which guarantees safety inside a club. Each country or city has different security rules. Travelers and party-goers from other cities or countries can’t be guaranteed trustworthy information via social media about a party, venue or event. How can they know in advance if a venue meets or exceeds international security standards?

Thanks to this Security Seal now it’s possible for tourists and party goers, like the ones that attended the Oakland party, to know in advance if the venue is considered safe. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. We really need local governments to support us while we expand this security seal which we are already implementing via worldwide with inspections.

Another thing we recommend party-goers is to ask authorities about the legality of the establishment before buying tickets and another useful tool we provide, in order to know in advance if a nightlife party is legal or not, is to consult the International Nightlife Guide. This is the only worldwide nightlife guide restricted to on-licensed premises. Party goers and their relatives can know in advance if their loved ones are attending safe parties. Unlike this one which was totally illegal. It would have been very useful for instance for the party-goers that came from other countries. This tragedy could have been avoided.

At the end of the day, we insist a thorough investigation takes place and party organizers must pay for the consequences of this tragedy which has caused irreplaceable loss to innocent people and to the established nightlife industry. We promote and defend venues which provide a safe nightlife experience and invest wisely in safety. We also want to encourage people to report unsafe or illegal venues, so that tragedies like this one can be avoided. We offer our organization to receive these reports and send them to the competent authority requesting action be taken including the immediate closure of an illegal venue. We are confident we can help avoid these tragedies in the future.

Finally, we want to honor the lost patrons, and present once again our sincerest condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones in the fire.