Rhode Island Nightclub Owners Criticize Fire Marshal in Deadly 2003 Fire

Michael (left) and Jeffrey Derderian, brothers who owned The Station nightclub in Rhode Island. (48 Hours)

Owners of a Rhode Island nightclub that burned in 2003 killing 100 patrons are telling their story for the first time in a television interview with CBS’ 48 Hours.

Jeffrey and Michael Derderian pleaded no contest to charges of involuntary manslaughter in the case of the Station Nightclub fire nearly 20 years ago. But they also believe others should have borne responsibility, as well.

Foam used as sound insulation at the nightclub played a significant factor in the severity of the fire. The foam was not fire-retardant, as required by code. Rather, standard packing foam, which is highly flammable, was used on the walls and ceiling as insulation. When pyrotechnics used for a show at the club set fire to the foam, the club quickly became a death trap.

The Derdarians, however, note that they believed that the foam they ordered was fire resistant. They did not recieve the foam they ordered, they say in their first interview since the fire. Further, they note, the fire marshal inspected the club three times – each time he also missed the fact that the foam did not meet code and issued permits for the club.

“Why is it OK that the fire marshal is allowed to miss something or make a mistake … and what he did was just an oops, but what we did was criminal?” Derdarian said in the interview.

For the full story, visit CBS 48 Hours.

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