Beverly Hills: Anatomy of a Nightclub Fire
Many colleges and universities teach students about fire protection and life safety codes and standards in a traditional lecture format with the hope that the students will learn the importance of this priority. But is it enough for students to simply feel that fire safety is an “important priority” – rather, wouldn’t we want fire safety in design and construction to become a life-long VALUE?
Beverly Hills – Anatomy of a Nightclub Fire takes the reader through the harrowing tragedy that killed 165 people on May 28, 1977 – a needless disaster that could have been easily prevented with just the slightest adherence to fire prevention and life safety measures. Students who read this gripping real-life account of the anatomy of this fire walk away with the greatest respect for the value of fire safety.
Written by a consultant for the special prosecutor for the state of Kentucky, the book begins with the design and construction of this “fire-trap”, driven by an owner, accused after the fire of having shown a complete and total disregard for human life – but who believed his building was safe. It then describes the horrifying night of the fire and how these design and construction flaws fed the fire and greatly compromised the egress exiting of the club's patrons leading to the 165 deaths. The book then presents the aftermath of the fire including state legislative and congressional investigations, a grand jury probe, the largest class-action lawsuit of its kind with over 2500 defendants, and numerous lessons learned from this tragedy.
Many colleges and universities use this book as a required reading assignment in their curriculum often coupled with on-line quizzes and assignments to avoid taking up classroom time. Available to the instructor is sample questions, quizzes, and assignments for the instructor use as is, or customize to his/her course.
Finally and possibly most importantly, the students find the book to be extremely interesting to read – often finishing it prior to its actual due date – and demonstrating in discussions and their written assignments their newly gained value of fire safety.