To: Head of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date: March 1, 2004
Re: Places of Assembly

As we pass the first anniversary of The Station nightclub fire, it is an opportunity to reinforce the importance of effective code enforcement in places of public assembly. Fire and building officials are encouraged to conduct joint inspections where possible.

For your assistance in completing inspections of these establishments, we are attaching a sample checklist pdf format of inspection_assembly_group.pdf
. While this checklist does not cover every possible scenario, it can be used as a tool to guide the local inspector as the checklist has identified fire code sections for each suggested area of inspection. It is important to note under 527 CMR 10.17 (1)(d) that, if the facility is overcrowded, the head of the fire department has the ability to take immediate action by stopping the "event" until the posted occupant load is re-established. We would encourage any fire official who finds a fire code violation to issue the appropriate notice or order in writing, even if it is immediately corrected. This will prove to be useful in the future, in the event of another reoccurrence.

The Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit is available to assist the heads of fire departments on a 24 hour/7 day a week basis by contacting the State Operations Center at MEMA at 508-820-2000.

Additional information may be obtained from our web site on the previously issued advisories governing in depth regulations covering places of assembly or how to contact the Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit off hours. If you have further questions please contact our Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit at 978-567-3375 or in Western MA at 413-587-3181.

As a result of the Secretary's Task Force on Fire & Building Safety, 31 recommendations have been made to improve safety in public assemblies. These fall into the broad categories of legislative, regulatory, and administrative. H-4550, An Act to Improve Fire Safety in the Commonwealth, was heard before the legislative Committee on Public Safety and will now start its way through the legislative process. One area in which the Task Force provided specific focus was the initiative for training of fire and building officials and owners and operators of entertainment venues. Hopefully, commencing in May there will be a cooperative effort between the Department of Fire Services and the Department of Public Safety to present training programs to further assist inspectors in conducting inspections of public assemblies.