Burn survivor Rob Feeney addresses crowd during news conference marking the 15th anniversary of The Station Nightclub fire
Looking dapper in his firefighter dress blues, Rob Feeney recently addressed a crowd and media members gathered at West Warwick, Rhode Island. Fifteen years ago on this site, a casual night out with his fiancee, Donna Mitchell, and friends at The Station nightclub became a fight for survival. Pyrotechnics inside the unsprinklered building initiated a fast-moving fire, which killed Mitchell and significantly injured Feeney. Emotional and physical support over the years led him on his life's new path as a Massachusetts firefighter. "I renewed my want for life and return to living," Feeney said to the crowd.
Feeney has also been a staunch advocate for fire sprinkler requirements since the fire, noting that had The Station been equipped with this technology, the outcome may have been different. Considered the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, the fire claimed 100 lives and injured many others.
Feeney joined NFPA and others at the event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the event while underscoring life safety achievements since the tragedy, particularly significant tax incentives for sprinkler installations and retrofits found in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. After The Station fire, NFPA enacted tough new code provisions for fire sprinklers and crowd management in nightclub-type venues. Those provisions marked sweeping changes to the codes and standards governing safety in assembly occupancies.
The new sprinkler tax incentive "allows building owners to bring existing buildings up to current code," said NFPA President Jim Pauley. "[The incentive] will save lives well into the future by increasing the number of buildings protected by one of the best fire protection devices we have: fire sprinklers."
Accompanying Pauley at the former site of The Station (which now serves as a memorial) was the U.S. Fire Administration, the National Fire Sprinkler Association, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, members of the Rhode Island Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and others.
Hear more of Rob Feeney's story by watching our 2013 interview with him at the former site of The Station: