Scottsdale is a destination community with approximately 9 million visitors a year and has more than 100 bars, nightclubs and pubs. Scottsdale Fire Inspectors proactively make night inspections of these facilities to check for overcrowding, blocked exits and to ensure all safety systems are operating properly
“When there is a nightclub fire, we know people have approximately 90 seconds to become aware of the problem and get out. Some primary culprits that keep people from escaping in time are blocked exits, fire/fuel load and overcrowding,” said Jim Ford, Deputy Chief and Scottsdale Fire Marshal
Scottsdale passed an ordinance in 2013 that requires all bar operators and security to attend public safety training. In 2016, 235 nightclub employees were educated in crowd control and other life safety issues specific to entertainment establishments. This class and regular meetings with owners create a working relationship that helps mitigate any potential safety issues before they become serious – or require a citation by Fire Inspectors
“We only issue citations when the owner has failed to respond to several orders to have the establishment meet local fire safety codes,” Ford said. Citations start off as a civil complaint and rise to a criminal complaint based on severity or failure to respond to other previous citations.
Scottsdale Fire conducts two kinds of inspections. All establishments regularly receive daytime (normal business hours) compliance inspections. Night inspections are special inspections conducted year-round at more popular Scottsdale venues on an unannounced basis to confirm compliance. In 2016, SFD personnel completed 167 night inspections throughout Scottsdale. These are now conducted by shift Fire Inspectors who are available 24/7
“These inspections are an added measure of safety to help reduce the risk of blocked exits, overcrowding or unexpected use of stage ‘flare’ that may cause a fire hazard,” said Ford
The fire department also participates in the city’s special events team that reviews any out-of-the-ordinary party or property extension of a bar throughout Scottsdale. There were 215 special event requests reviewed in 2016
“Partnerships and collaboration across city departments help protect the safety of our residents and visitors,” said Ford. “We hope Community Risk Reduction efforts keep us from experiencing preventable tragedies.”