Trevor Maxwell of Maine's Portland Press Herald is reporting that the failure of audience members at a recent MÖTLEY CRÜE concert to hear a fire alarm is forcing Maine's Cumberland County Civic Center to review its emergency procedures.
Dave Graves, a Wells resident who was among roughly 6,000 people at CRÜE's Cumberland County Civic Center on Saturday night. The band was finishing its rock show and the crowd was roaring. "It was insane," Graves said.
Meanwhile, about 80 security guards and police officers were politely asking spectators to leave the building. Smoke had triggered an alarm in a stairwell. Evacuation procedures were under way.
Fortunately, there was no fire, and some fans were already filing out.
But the incident prompted a review of the civic center's evacuation plans. At concert halls and clubs, those plans and the use of pyrotechnics have come under greater scrutiny since a 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island. The fire at The Station in West Warwick — caused by oversized sparklers igniting foam — killed 100 people and injured 200 at a show by the band GREAT WHITE.
Jay Kelley, a fire prevention officer with the Portland Fire Department, was at the MÖTLEY CRÜE show. While it turned out to be a false alarm, he discussed the issue Tuesday with Steve Crane, manager of the Civic Center. Their emergency plans are working and do not need updating, Kelley said.
If the alarm had sounded mid-show, all of the band's audio and visual elements would have been shut down. Then, spectators would have heard evacuation instructions and seen emergency strobe lights.
From his seat in the sixth row, Graves assumed that the strobe lights were another part of the glam-metal band's show. "The show looked like it went off without a hitch," he said.
Right at the end, four concussion bombs, as they're called by pyrotechnicians, sent up a smoke cloud that drifted through the auditorium — no different from those at dozens of shows put on here by groups like DEF LEPPARD and KISS.
Smoke detectors in the arena didn't go off because they're programmed to differentiate various threats. But a stairwell door was left open Saturday night, allowing smoke to reach a separate detector.
In the six years since the latest alarm system was installed, this was only the second time it had gone off by accident.
On Saturday, fire officials determined quickly that the alarm had gone off accidentally. The show was wrapping up and most of the fans probably never knew what had happened, Kelley said.
With all of the explosions, dancers and motorcycles on stage, Graves felt the show was worth the $180 he paid. Drummer Tommy Lee was his usual, wild self on two drum kits that were swinging from the ceiling.
"It had everything you're looking for in a rock show," Graves said: plenty of smoke without the fire.