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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  December 24, 2004
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Governor Signs New Fire Safety Regulations
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ On what he called ``a day of so many mixed emotions,'' Gov. Don Carcieri on Monday signed legislation creating more stringent fire-safety requirements for many of Rhode Island's businesses and public buildings.

The changes, prompted by a February nightclub fire that claimed 100 lives, include mandating sprinklers in more nightclubs and other businesses, banning pyrotechnics in all but the largest venues and increasing the authority of fire inspectors.

``I think we're going to set the stage for what happens nationwide, to make sure this never happens again,'' Carcieri said at a Statehouse ceremony attended by fire-safety officials, lawmakers and family members of those killed in the blaze.

Officials insist the changes will make the state the safest in the country, though lawmakers who drafted the legislation acknowledge there isn't enough manpower now to enforce the new codes. And some business owners worry they could be forced to temporarily shut down to meet deadlines they will face to install sprinklers and make other changes.

 Sprinkler requirements would be phased in over three years. Most other changes become effective Feb. 20, 2004, the one-year anniversary of The Station nightclub fire, which also injured nearly 200 people.

The mandate on sprinklers goes beyond what the National Fire Protection Association recommends. The Quincy, Mass.-based association of fire experts currently recommends sprinklers for some public venues accommodating more than 300. The national group is considering recommending fire sprinklers in all nightclubs.

Raymond and Diane Mattera, of Providence, brought their 10-year-old grandson Nathan to the outdoor ceremony. They wanted him to hear the governor and others pay tribute to the fire victims, including his mother, Tammy Mattera-Housa.

 ``He draws pictures of the fire, he's struggling with it,'' Diane Mattera said. ``We hope this will show him that maybe people do care.''

The Rev. John Holt, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, held up pictures of some of the fire victims. He spoke of the struggles of many survivors to pay bills and deal with emotional and physical pain.

``This is one more steppingstone in the long healing process for those affected,'' he said.

 Missy Minor, a 28-year-old fire survivor from West Warwick, stood in the shade under a tree, to avoid sunlight on her burned arms. She still takes pain medication and hasn't been able to return to work as a hairdresser, but wasn't complaining.

``A hundred people can't be here today, but I'm lucky enough to be able to'' come, she said.

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