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Mar 20 2014

Risqué and Risky

Category: Egress,Fire Doors,NewsLori @ 8:34 am Comments (18)

I have hesitated to post some photos I took a few months ago because of where they were taken…this is a G-rated website, right?  Then a news article showed up in my inbox that was even more risqué, but includes an important lesson.  So here goes.

First, the background for the photos.  Last fall, one of my mom-friends turned 40.  To celebrate in traditional fashion, we organized a posse of 13 40-something moms to go to a show.  Not a show like the GoGos Reunion Tour…a drag show, where (as my 7YO daughter says) “men dress up like ladies” (how does she know this and why does she have to tell EVERYONE?).  The “ladies” may look like ladies, but they take it up a few notches to put on a show for groups of bachelorettes and birthday parties.  This club isn’t one of my normal hangouts (really!), but I rarely miss a birthday party so off I went.

The club we visited had 2 floors – the ground floor had 100+ screaming party people at tables, 4 performers, a bar, and a pool table.  The basement had a separate establishment which was some sort of metal/alternative club based on the bass vibrating up through the floor, and the interesting clientele who had to access the basement through a single stairway leading down from an area near the end of the catwalk (a word I never expected to use here).

I’m sure you’re getting the picture.  The club was PACKED and there were no egress routes through the crowd; I had to be vigilant to avoid being stepped on by the ladies’ size-13 pumps.  Bachelorettes and 21YO birthday girls were impaired (not me, I was the DD of a mini-van full of moms).  The lighting was low, the walls were black, and the volume was very high.  And there I was, scanning for the exits.  The main entrance at the opposite end of the club was a pair of 2-foot wide doors, with an assortment of surface bolts and deadbolts.  But I could see the rear exit from my seat and had an emergency plan ready.  When the show was over and I was passing the emergency exit, I looked through the lite in the vestibule door and saw this (the padlock turned out to be locking a window grille, but there is a deadbolt above the panic):

Emergency Exit - Push Side

When I got outside, I checked out the opposite side of the same emergency exit, and saw this (yes, it was locked):

Emergency Exit - Pull Side

The next morning, I contacted the local fire prevention department using an online form; I was a little worried about the ladies tracking me down, but I had to do it.  The same day (Sunday), I had a response.  The next morning, a fire inspector asked me to send him my photos, and he went to see the club manager.  He found other issues in the building, including problems with exit signs and egress routes from the basement club.  He also told her to address the lock on the emergency exit and that the security gate had to be unlocked when the club was occupied.  I won’t be going back to check on the situation, but at least I’m able to sleep soundly at night.


Risqué Business #2 – The article I received the other day was in regard to a dungeon, and the dungeon-mistress who had been fined the equivalent of over $13,000 for permanently locking the dungeon’s only fire exit.  The problem was discovered when the fire department showed up to put out a fire in the dungeon, and couldn’t get in.  When questioned, the dungeon-mistress said she did not realize she was legally responsible for health and safety precautions, and that she had not considered what would happen if a fire occurred when a client was restrained and/or under the influence of a controlled substance.  She pleaded guilty to failing to carry out a proper risk assessment, install suitable fire alarms, maintain emergency exits and install emergency lighting.  The moral of the story is, “I didn’t know” is not an acceptable defense, and neither is an occupant load of 2.  Read the article at your own risk.

18 Responses to “Risqué and Risky”

  1. David Moyer says:

    To think I’ve always held you in such high regard…believing you to be a person of impeccable morals… and now we all learn – in a public post, no less – that even our leaders stumble 🙂 (Just kidding!!) What these two instances demonstrate is life safety issues abound – they are everywhere. Not only in places we want to be (stores, restaurants, schools, auditoriums, offices, etc.), but also in places we … of normally higher moral character 🙂 … hate to admit actually exist.

  2. Cda says:

    Ok interesting businesses in your town!!!

    Was the building sprinkled??

    At least it was not snowing

    • Lori says:

      I’m not sure but highly doubtful. I have to get in the habit of looking for sprinkler heads. It would not have mattered because we would have been crushed in the stampede even if sprinklers put out the fire.

  3. Eric Rieckers says:

    Fire prevention chief Peter O’Reilly said: “No matter what business you have, you must take fire safety seriously.” Yes, no matter where you go or what you do, always look for the egress. 🙂

  4. Clair E Gunnet Jr AHC says:

    We Dig Hardware. Sometimes we are called upon to be vigilant for the safety of ourselves and others when we are in public places.Thank you Lori for caring to go the extra mile to bring in the local officials.

    • Lori says:

      Thanks Clair! I’m glad you dig hardware…otherwise I’d just be talking to myself and that would be depressing.

  5. David DeFilippo says:

    It really pains me to the extent unthinking people imperil others with their stupidity. I really stay away from clubs because they are just too dangerous. Pour alcohol into the mix and …..
    All the code asks is for operable exits and clear and unobstructed access to them. One day the insurance companies will step up and start pressuring the people that they insure with compliance or no insurance. Put sprinklers in or no insurance.
    Once people are dead that’s it, the dollars spent to comply with the codes are small potatoes.

    Thanks Lori I need to find a new place to dress up 🙂

  6. Sheldon says:

    “And there I was, scanning for the exits.” Sounds like you’re going to the right places, Lori, but we’re going to have to work on what you do when you get there.

  7. David Moyer says:

    Don’t the milestone birthday’s stop at 40?

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