The State Assembly today unanimously approved legislation (A.5669/S.4502) that would strengthen penalties for displaying pyrotechnics indoors without proper permits.
The legislation was prompted by the February 20, 2003, Rhode Island nightclub fire which began after pyrotechnics were used by performers. The pyrotechnics were believed to have ignited soundproofing foam, triggering a fire that swept through the nightclub and claimed the lives of more than 95 people.
“The issues that arose out of the Rhode Island tragedy have made it clear that nightclub and other venue owners must be held responsible for events that take place on their premises,” Assemblyman Robin Schimminger said. His bill would place the liquor license of an establishment in jeopardy of suspension, cancellation or revocation should the licensee allow or promote an event on its premises where a valid permit was not obtained from the municipality to display pyrotechnics or indoor fireworks.
“As we have seen from past events, the consequences of misusing pyrotechnics can be devastating. That is why it is of the utmost importance for club owners to adhere to the law. It is clear that some unscrupulous club and other venue owners may put their own profit above the safety of their patrons,” Schimminger said.
“This legislation will give added weight to the current pyrotechnic law by putting in place stronger deterrents for club owners who might be tempted to sacrifice safety for show,” Schimminger concluded. Schimminger chairs the Assembly Economic Development Committee, which has jurisdiction over legislation dealing with the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.
The legislation has advanced to the floor calendar in the State Senate, where it is sponsored by Senator Martin Golden.