05 August 2009

Ratner-Owned Brooklyn Cineplex a Potential Fire Trap

Brooklyn Paper wrote a small article about a fire that filled the United Artists multiplex on Court Street, Brooklyn, with smoke yesterday afternoon. But the paper didn't need to tell me. I knew about it already, since two friends of mine were in the theatre at the time.

The Paper gives a bit of the flavor of the event in this passage:

Eight minor injuries, mostly from smoke inhalation, were reported in the fire, which apparently started in the popcorn maker and quickly forced the evacuation of all 11 floors of the building.

Alison Katz and her friend Melissa Garry were watching “The Ugly Truth” in a sixth-floor theater when the fire started.

They said they did not hear the alarm, but learned of the fire when “one of the ushers finally turned on the light, rushed in and told us to get out,” Katz said.

“But no one was leading us, so we just went down the escalators,” she added.

The incompetence and complete absence of any proper evacuation procedure was far worse than that accounts lets on, however. Anyone who has ever patronized this poorly run cinema knows first hand the lack of intellectual and professional engagement of its young, callow, bored, slothful staff. It should come as not surprise, then, that nobody knew what to do in the case of a fire.

Like the patrons quoted above, my friends (who were there with their children, seeing "G-Force") did not hear the fire alarm. They only knew something was up when a staffer came into the theatre (which was filled with children) and said there everything was OK and they should stay put. Soon after, however, a more panicked worker came in and hurriedly said everyone should leave. No instructions. And certainly no one lead the moviegoers out or waited to make sure the theatre emptied out.

My friends found their own way down the many escalators by themselves and the building was quite smoky. The whole affair was horribly handled, and, even though the fire was localized, it's a miracle no one was seriously hurt.

It's just what you'd expect from a movie theatre owned by Bruce Ratner, isn't it? Screw the public; let's make money!


Unknown said...

I refuse to go to this theater because I've always thought it was a fire trap (all of those skinny little escalators - i could just imagine people pushing and shoving to get down). I'm not surprised by this at all.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

This theater is detestable (your description of the staff is absolutely perfect), and the endless landings between escalators are creepy in the extreme. But the fire thing never even crossed my mind. I will never go there again (no loss). Thanks for reporting this.

Unknown said...

Oh please. It's the same kids that staff every cineplex in the country. This one is not markedly different than most. Clearly though that does not excuse their lack of preparation that could cost people their lives.

This isn't going to stop me going when I need to take in a mindless blockbuster, but perhaps I will note the fire exits...I do recall seeing an inner stairwell.

chris said...

please give me a break. Yes the cinema is clearly a dump but it is built to Code. There are exits clearly marked in every theatre. Why did they take the escalators? Probably because they did not look for the fire exits.
No excuse for not hearing the fire alarms though.

Marlene McGarrity said...

Out of all the theaters in Brooklyn, I like this one, but I've always wondered what would happen if a fire ever broke out.

The kids that work there aren't that bad - they are good high school and college aged kids. The problem might be the management, as I've never seen a manager on staff.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Sorry, Chris, I will not give you a break. There was no excuse for the way the staff behaved.

Anonymous said...

All the movie theaters in NYC are fire traps with too-narrow escalators. I can't believe that layout is actually to code. I agree with the person who pointed out this theater plainly doesn't want to spend what it takes to keep at least one manager on staff at all times. I've never seen anybody in charge watching over the kids there. Never. That itself is a fire hazard as this article points out, because nobody knew what to do. The bulk of the audience evenings and weekends is the biggest problem with this theater. Rudest we have ever encountered. We never go here anymore because of that.