With more than 10 million people living in the greater Los Angeles area in 2020, city managers and fire-departments are on the offense when it comes to managing crowds. Municipalities require businesses to be informed and proactive when it comes to managing the flow of guests and maintaining capacity below fire-code limits. To help even more, we've put together this article with some important points that local fire departments and code enforcement agents look for when issuing licenses or policing businesses.
In the wake of deadly fires at crowded venues, like the Station Nightclub in Rhode Island in 2003 where dozens were killed and hundreds injured, several states, including the state of California, enacted sweeping fire-prevention and crowd-control regulations that strongly focused on preventing similar incidents at nightclubs, dancehalls, and bars.
Among the many changes, the California Legislature imposed significant requirements on places of assembly with a capacity of 100 or more. These include the installation of automatic sprinklers, the prohibition of indoor pyrotechnics, and the submission of a valid certificate of inspection issued by the local building inspector and endorsed by the fire chief for the issuance and renewal of liquor licenses. Moreover, the state and local licensing commissions have increased both fines and criminal penalties for owners that permit certain dangerous conditions to persist in any place of assembly.
DESIGNATION OF A CROWD MANAGER
As of 2013, all places of assembly with a capacity of more than 250 persons must designate and maintain a state-certified crowd-manager on-site at all times during regular business hours who must complete a daily fire-safety checklist. In addition, crowd-managers must submit for retesting and recertification.
IMPORTANCE OF COMPLIANCE
Local authorities are on the lookout, and conduct regular inspections of buildings and places of assembly. Every month, local fire-safety inspectors cite hundreds of Boston area restaurants, nightclubs, and bars maintaining unsafe conditions inside their buildings. After receiving a citation, and depending on the circumstances, business owners may be required to appear before before the local licensing officials for a disciplinary hearing. Among the most common penalties for business owners is the suspension or revocation of their business or alcoholic beverages licenses.
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