Improving Public Safety After the Station Nightclub Fire

As a result of the devastating Station Nightclub fire in Rhode Island on February 20, 2003 in which 100 people were killed and 300 others injured, the Massachusetts Legislature and the Commonwealth's Board of Fire Prevention Regulations enacted sweeping and enhanced fire safety requirements, particularly with respect to nightclubs, dance halls, discothèques, and bars.

Among the far reaching changes to the fire code that have been implemented were requirements for installation of automatic sprinklers in places of assembly with a capacity of 100 or more, prohibition of use of indoor pyrotechnic displays in assembly use occupancies, submission of a valid certificate of inspection issued by the local inspector of buildings and signed by the fire chief for issuance and renewal of liquor licenses, and increased fines and criminal penalties for allowing certain dangerous conditions to exist in any assembly use group building.

Crowd Manager Requirements

Starting June 1, 2011 every nightclub, dance hall, discothèque or bar, with an occupant load of 100 persons or more shall designate a Crowd Manager in accordance with the state regulation pdf format of excerpts_of_fire_code_527cmr.pdf
.
  • Designate a Crowd Manager who is present in the facility during all hours that it is open to the public; The fire code pdf format of excerpts_of_fire_code_527cmr.pdf
changes require "the owner or operator of a nightclub, dance hall, discothèque or bar, with an occupant load of 100 persons or more" to "designate one crowd manager for every 250 occupants or portion thereof based upon the Certificate of Inspection issued" under the State Building Code.
  • The designated Crowd Manager must be trained and tested every three years. This training and testing will be provided on the Internet by the State Fire Marshal at no charge. The training program is now available on-line and can be accessed twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week. The first certifications issued in March 2011 are now expiring.  A new training program is available and completion is required as a part of the recertification process.
  • The Crowd Manager must complete the Fire and Building Safety Checklist pdf format of fire_and_bldg_checklist.pdf
every day the building is open to the public. The checklist insures that the facility is safe to open to the public through a visual inspection of the property conducted each day prior to opening by the trained Crowd Manager.

Questions

The local licensing authority has been notified of these code changes and the need to comply as part of your relicensing requirements. The fire chief in your community will also be aware of the requirements and should be available to you as a resource to answer your questions. If he or she cannot answer your questions then you should contact the Division of Fire Safety at 978-567-3375 for additional information and direction.