Concerts banned at Phoenix Theater
Published: Friday, September 10, 2010 at 10:54 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 at 10:54 a.m.
The Petaluma Fire Department is prohibiting any future concerts at the Phoenix Theater after discovering that the audience at a concert on Wednesday reached 180 people above the permitted number.
During the concert, featuring the popular group Smashing Pumpkins, no one in an official capacity kept track of the number of people admitted, exits were blocked and some people entered without paying, said Cary Fergus, the interim fire marshal.
“We consider your actions to be in flagrant disregard of the California Fire Code and laws designed to protect public safety,” Fergus wrote on Thursday in a hand-delivered notice to Tom Gaffey, the theater's manager.
Officers from the Petaluma Police Department using “pitch” counters determined that between 900 to 915 people were allowed to enter the theater for the concert. The permitted occupancy is 485 people on the main floor and 235 in the upper-balcony seats, for a total of 720 people.
“We understand there may have been 600 people (based on your stated estimate to the police department) on just the main floor alone, and no tracking or occupancy control for this room was in place,” Fergus wrote, also saying that this “posed a serious safety threat to all that attended the event.”
Fergus wrote that based on California Fire Code regulations, he has no other alternative than to revoke and refuse issuance of the theater's fire code assembly permit “until further notice for significantly exceeding your occupancy, putting patrons in eminent danger and failing to implement policies that monitor/count/track the number of people attending events held at your facility.”
Besides prohibiting concerts, Fergus reduced current occupancy of the theater to 49, which will allow the teen center to continue to function.
Fergus outlined several requirements that the theater must meet if concerts are to resume.
The Petaluma Fire Department conducted a full fire-safety inspection on Thursday, and any violations found need to be corrected. Written notifications will need to be submitted to the fire and police departments 30 days in advance for all concerts that are expected to have crowds of more than 200 people. Written guidelines for policies pertaining to tracking occupancy and monitoring exits must be provided.
Procedures will need to be developed for a licensed security team, and address alcohol restrictions, communications and contact information.
“It must be a written plan developed to provide adequate security and evacuation, and removal of compromised individuals for future events that is agreeable to both the police and fire departments,” Fergus wrote.
Forms must be created that document the occupancy of the building and exit egress checks at several times during events.
A policy will need to be created to conduct in-house safety inspections before each concert.
“You must develop a fire safety checklist of all safety components, including exit lighting, panic hardware, fire extinguishers, corridor conditions, condition of doors, etc.,” Fergus wrote, adding that “the fire department requests that you contract with a professional fire protection engineer/consultant to develop your checklist and submit it to the fire marshal for review.”
At the end of the notice, Fergus wrote, “Please be advised that failure to comply with this directive could result in legal action and/or fines.”
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