Anniversary Of Station Nightclub Fire Observed

AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith, File
– Station Nightclub Fire Memorial
In this Friday, May 19, 2017 file photo, workers finalize details at a memorial in West Warwick, R.I., at the site of The Station nightclub fire that killed 100 and injured more than 200 people in 2003.
Survivors of the Station nightclub fire, along with fire officials, fire safety advocates and relatives of the victims met at the memorial park located at the site of the disaster Feb. 20 to mark the 15th anniversary of the tragedy by honoring the 100 people who died and celebrating the new Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. 
The 2003 fire at the West Warwick, R.I., club was caused by pyrotechnics set off during Great White’s performance that ignited foam used as soundproofing. In addition to the 100 fatalities, 230 people were injured. The band’s tour manager, Daniel Michael Biechele, who set off the pyrotechnics, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was released from prison in 2008. The Station’s owners, Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, were sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 10-year suspended sentence, respectively. Michael Derderian was released in 2009.  
The anniversary event at the Station Fire Memorial Park was hosted by the Station Fire Memorial Foundation in partnership with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and Common Voices, according to the Kent County Daily Times. 
“Today for me is about remembering 100 incredible souls that passed for no reason,” said Gina Russo, President of the Station Memorial Foundation and fire survivor who survived burns on more than 50 percent of her body, according to the paper. “Had there been sprinklers in that building maybe life would have been completely different for us all of us. I wouldn’t have been burned. I wouldn’t have spent four months in a hospital and lost a boyfriend and so many other incredible people would not have passed.”
Russo worked for 14 years to give survivors a place of peace with the memorial park, which officially opened last May. 
Fellow fire survivor Rob Feeney also spoke at the event and read a letter from Rhode Island Congressman James Langevin, who has spent years championing sprinkler legislations. The Kent County Daily Times noted that Feeney was hospitalized for a month after the Station Fire, including spending 12 days in an induced coma, and he has spent 14 years advocating for sprinkler systems to be installed in public gathering places. 
“Despite the grief many of us still experience today we must remember that some good can come from this tragedy if we can prevent these fires from happening in the future,” Langevin’s letter said. “Upon learning that the Station Night Club did not have a fire sprinkler system I began working to make the installation of fire sprinklers more affordable for businesses and property owners. These systems save lives.”
The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, which is part of Congress’ Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that passed in December, gives business owners a tax credit for the cost of retrofitting buildings with fire sprinkler systems.