Reports from those on hand at the Great Detroit Auto Show Fire indicate no fire alarms went off, information was poorly shared, and Cobo Hall was altogether ill-prepared for the incident. Were you there? Have pictures of the aftermath?
The consensus is the fire occurred due to an electric issue with an adapter above the Audi stage that quickly ignited the roof above Audi and spread flames and black smoke around the hall. The response, according to The Booth Babe on DYCWTC, wasn't great:
What's the opposite of urgent? Lackadaisical? Because that's the kind of announcement that was made to evacuate the hall, and it was not backed up by anyone from their crack security team ushering people out. In fact, people were still milling around inside the hall poking around in vehicles a good half hour after the initial announcement. Instead of being led to nearest exits, people were told to go back to the lobby, which meant everyone marched straight towards the fire and smoke.
This reported is backed up by Kristyn Burtt, who writes RedCarpetCloset and is also a product specialist:
Honestly, I am not sure the show should have reopened. We came into a hall that had a strong stench of burnt plastic and all of the fire doors open to the outside. So, the temperature had dropped below 50 degrees in order to blow out the smoke and odor. It was not the healthiest environment to work in, but we plowed through the rest of the shift with headaches and stinging, burning throats.
Curiously, the new management company in charge of Cobo made a big deal this year about preparing for just such an occurrence in an Automotive News story before the show. Gary Brown, the chief construction officer for the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, said they'd fixed a glitch in Cobo's fire system and worked on emergency equipment.
There are emergency battery lights that were dead, and we've replaced those batteries on the emergency system. We've also done a fire protection investigation and inspection that was routine anyway, but we've done it in advance of the auto show."
Since the building didn't burn down it doesn't yet appear there was a major failure of any fire-suppression systems, but it does make us wonder how much of the $3 million was spent on technology or operational training for staff to alert and direct visitors in the event of an emergency and if any was spent, where the money actually went.
We're glad no one was hurt (and for our sake, that the fire didn't happen during media days), but if you were there for the fire, or are there now, drop us a note with photos of the event or aftermath.
Photo Credit: Red Carpet Closet