Thirty six people died after a fire swept through a dilapidated warehouse in Oakland, California during a Friday night dance party. A number of victims were part of a group of artists and musicians that lived in the building- a facility that was deemed inhabitable. Recent reports reveal that it had been 30 years since the Oakland Planning and Building Department had deployed an inspector to the warehouse.

That was thousands of miles from New England but it's happned here before.

The fourth deadliest fire in U.S. history claimed one hundred lives in a blaze that besieged a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island in 2003. Flames broke out at The Station nightclub when pyrotechnics set fire to highly flammable packing foam that lined the walls during a rock band performance.

John Barylick is a lecturer at Boston University Law school and an attorney who represented victims of The Station nightclub fire. He joined WGBH’s Morning Edition guest host Marilyn Schairer for a conversation about fire safety and negligence.

Barylick says there are several parallels to be made from these two tragic fires.

He points out that both were striking tragedies that involved disregard to public safety concerns. Barylick says that inspectors in Rhode Island failed to report the hazardous foam that lined The Station's walls and crowd management was never considered.

As for the fire in Oakland, Barylick points out that early stages of the investigation reveal the warehouse's inhabitable conditions and if such a situation results in injury - in this case it did- the individual responsible for the facility is liable- whether it’s a promoter, owner or even a major tenant who subleases their space.

Although Oakland's fire is still under investigation, Barylick says it’s apparent that there were major fire code violations and quality of past inspections will be looked at very closely.

If there’s any lesson to be taken from these tragedies, it’s how to prevent being caught in one yourself, he says.

Barylick suggests several steps:

 “Bottom line is that if you come to a venue and it looks bad, if you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut because no show is worth dying for”, Barylick says.

The Station nightclub fire drove Rhode Island officials to instate stricter safety regulationsincluding the restriction of pyrotechnics in nightclubs.  

Barylick says there’s always a high level of awareness after fire tragedies but that enthusiasm often fades time goes by.

Barylick says while fire services serve an important role, individuals must also take responsibility in evaluating their environment to protect themselves first.

To listen to the entire interview with John Barylick and WGBH's Marilyn Schairer click on the audio file above.