Fire Safety Checks Close Venues in Rio

By Andrew Willis, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Municipal authorities in Brazil have responded to the tragic fire that killed over 230 partygoers in a nightclub in Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul last month by conducting a wave of license and safety checks across the country. In the week that followed the blaze, over 120 venues were closed in the state of Rio de Janeiro alone due to irregularities.

Sergio Simões, secretary of civil defense, talks about fire safety, photo by Marcelo Horn/Imprensa RJ.

Sergio Simões, secretary of civil defense, talks about fire safety, photo by Marcelo Horn/Imprensa RJ.

Another fifty commercial premises received fines but remained open, while a further twenty were receiving warnings, the Rio de Janeiro state Fire Brigade said in a statement on Friday, February 1st.

Revelations that sound-proofing material in the ill-fated Kiss nightclub was highly flammable, plus claims that the club’s fire extinguishers didn’t work have provoked strong criticism.

Emergency lighting also failed to come on and it was later discovered that the club’s operating license had expired several months previously. As a result, fire code and safety checks have been stepped up since the tragedy.

“We never had targets [for inspections in the past]. Now we understand that this is necessary. We are establishing targets that must be met. Inspections are vitally important for the prevention of fires,” said Colonel Sergio Simoes, the commanding general of Rio de Janeiro’s Fire Brigade.

In the city of Rio, currently packed with revelers from all over the world in the lead up to Carnival, several well-known bars and clubs were prevented from operating during a city-wide sweep by inspectors last week. Doors were closed at many popular nightclubs, including; 00 (zero-zero), Alto Lapa, Casa da Matriz, Fosfobox, Nuth, Teatro Odisséia and Le Boy. Several clubs were also reportedly partially closed, such as; Baronneti, Londra and Barzin.

Marco Maia, President of the Chamber of Deputies, PT-RS, photo by Wilson Dias/ABr.

Marco Maia, President of the Chamber of Deputies, says he will re-examine all fire safety legislation as he visits the scene of the blaze, photo by Wilson Dias/ABr.

Many well known live music venues popular for samba shows were also closed, including; Centro Cultura Carioca, Casa Rosa and Carioca de Gema (partially closed). Several bars were also closed, including Bar Bukowski and Mud Bug.

“Fosfobox was fairly underground, attracting a youngish crowd that liked electro music. It reminded me of places you find in London’s Shoreditch area,” Francois Bellicardi, a French expatriate living in Rio, said after hearing the news.

“Let’s see how long it’s closed for though,” he added. “Frequently these places make the necessary changes and reopen quite quickly.”

The crackdown is causing considerable frustration among business owners, especially those who feel they have remained within the law.

“It is sad that business owners here are being punished for a tragedy that happened in one place in the south. The authorities are making sure they are all over the news being vigilant on security when perhaps they should just be doing their job as usual,” the owner said, on condition of anonymity.

While municipal authorities currently award licenses and carry out safety checks of commercial premises in Brazil, federal legislators have now opened up the possibility of minimum nationwide rules in this area in a bid to boost safety standards.

Following is a list of the reportedly closed establishments so far, based on local media. In addition to privately owned businesses, many public theaters and museums have also been temporarily closed:

Clubs and Bars
Fosfobox
Le Boy
Mariuzinn
Bronx Bar
Alto Lapa
Quintal Carioca
Centro Cultura Carioca
Casa de Festas Infantil Alakazan
Casa Rosa
Casa da Matriz
00 (zero-zero)
Mud Bug
Nuth
021
Oi Futuro
Turma OK
Bukoviski
Pistache
Cine Ideal
Teatro Odisséia
Favellas
Garagem Gamboa
Scala Rio

Partially closed Clubs and Bars (only allowed to open as bars/restaurants)
Carioca da Gema
Sacrilegio
Blue Agave (no live music)
Baretto-Londra
Barzin
Milano Lounge
Bar do Copa
Esquina Teatro Bar

Theaters
Glaucio Gill
Armando Gonzaga
Arthur Azevedo
Mario Iago
Candido Mendes
Teatro Municipal Carlos Gomes
Teatro Municipal Gonzaguinha
Teatro Municipal Café Pequeno
Espaço Cultural Municipal Sérgio Porto
Teatro Municipal Ziembinsky
Teatro Municipal Maria Clara Machado
Teatro Municipal do Jockey
Sala Municipal Baden Powell
Teatro Municipal de Marionetes Carlos Werneck

Museums
Museu da Imagem e do Som
Museu Carmen Miranda
Museu do Ingá
Casa França-Brasil,
Memorial Getúlio Vargas

Libraries
Manguinhos
Niterói
Biblioteca Popular de Botafogo – Machado De Assis
Biblioteca Popular de Campo Grande – Manuel Ignácio Da Silva Alvarenga
Biblioteca Popular da Ilha Do Governador – Euclides Da Cunha
Biblioteca Popular da Maré – Jorge Amado
Biblioteca Popular de Irajá – João do Rio
Biblioteca Popular de Jacarepaguá – Cecília Meireles
Biblioteca Popular de Santa Teresa – José De Alencar
Biblioteca Popular da Tijuca – Marques Rebelo
Biblioteca Abgar Renault

4 Responses to "Fire Safety Checks Close Venues in Rio"

  1. George  February 7, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Looks like Brazil and many other places in the world should realize the importance of sprinkler systems in buildings.

  2. Lee Esmond  February 7, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Question has to be asked as to why the authorities didn’t have 1st world fire safety standards in place to start with. Most likely (like other things in Brazil), corruption and pay-offs to keep venues open probably took place. Typical Brazil, behind in some of the basic things that are normal in a 1st world society. Interesting to see if the Olympic venues will be up to scratch.

  3. Jeff  March 12, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Sadly, some, well, many, actually, most Brazilian bars, clubs, and other such places do not meet even the modest Brazilian codes for such places of business. Of course, the tragic death of the people in the club fire will be the cause for a short period of interest in such inspections, and then it will return to the usual pattern disinterest on the part of regulators. Did anyone hear of the regulators themselves being held responsible for not enforcing existing regulations? I doubt it! As with most all developing nations, Brazil is a “visitor beware” country where you cannot rely on codes being in place or even enforced to protect you.

  4. Heidi Gunn  June 24, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    We appreciate that the Government are doing their best to help each victim. Fire department and the Government joined hand in hand. We deeply appreciate that. Despite all that had happened, everyone didn’t lose their faith. All will be well with the help of the officials.

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