Feb. 20, 2003, will forever be known as one of the darkest days in Rhode Island’s history.
It has been 15 years since a fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick left 100 people dead. Hundreds more were injured. Lives were shattered. The impact of the tragedy was felt in every corner of the Ocean State and beyond.
The years since have brought some silver linings. Steps have been taken to improve fire readiness and safety at many of the state’s aging buildings, as well as at large venues. Members of the community have worked together to honor the memory of those lost in the blaze, and a monument has been created at the site of the former nightclub – a peaceful, beautiful place for reflection and healing.
As we mark this milestone anniversary, we must remember that continued vigilance and action are needed to prevent similar tragedies.
In recent months, house fires have claimed lives across our region – in Newport, Portsmouth, Hopkinton, Coventry, Johnston, Providence, New Bedford and Taunton. Too many of our buildings continue to lag in terms of adequate protection. Too often, we neglect the simple steps that can prevent or quickly contain fires.
For ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors and our firefighters and first responders, let us take the lessons of the Station fire to heart and strive to create a safer place for all Rhode Islanders.