Crowd Management - Fire Safety and Local Laws

In Part 2 of  the crowd management whitepaper, we focus on the importance of  establishing a close relationship with local fire officials and law enforcement as part of an effective crowd management strategy.

Get to Know Local Laws

Your venue should seek the advice and cooperation of your local Law Enforcement and Fire Marshall Office to help you design and implement your crowd management and security plan. Ask for their expertise and experience in the following areas:

  • Potentially hazardous areas inside and/or outside of the venue
  • Are all areas viewable to the public? Hidden areas within a venue provide spaces for unsafe activities to occur.
  • What are local crime statistics, and what impact will these have on moving patrons along safe routes?
  • Are exits clearly marked and easily accessed?

Emergency fire exit signPerform Fire Drill Walk Through

Crowd management situations involving fires, nothing can be more life saving than a well established fire drill policy. Conducting a walk-through of the inside of your venue with Fire Department officials can help you identify any potential hazards or problem areas. Use their experience to ensure lanes to exit doors are unblocked, doors are unlocked, lighted exit signs are clearly visible from every spot inside the venue, and whether flammable materials are present.

Decisions on Open Fires

For any outdoor entertainment--especially those that offer on-site camping, you will want to learn local fire codes with respect to open campfires or barbecue pits. Regardless of local laws, venues are still responsible for the safety of their guests, so make sure you share crowd size, demographics, or any other factors that may affect the decision to allow open flames, and make your decisions in concert with local fire officials.

Fire Safety

Trash receptacles should be emptied as often as possible. Especially when fires are present, full trash bins provide favorable conditions for fires.

Preparation is key,crowd management staff should be trained in the use of fire prevention equipment, how to respond to fires, and the movement of crowds to designated safe areas.

Enlisting the Help of Local Law Enforcement

Identify Security Concerns

Law Enforcement officials can help you identify crowd management concerns on the outside perimeter of your venue helping you establish safe routes of travel to and from the venue or when escorts for patrons should be offered. They can help determine if any hidden areas exist within the venue. Areas that are not clearly visible to the public should be blocked from access at all times to keep patrons safe.

Use of Force

Safety may require decisions involving force when handling or evicting unruly or inebriated patrons. Law enforcement officials should always be called when needed, but in the absence of professional law enforcement, you must train your staff on how to remove patrons safely. When force is required, discuss methods with local law enforcement and what effect these may have on your crowd management strategy.

Hiring Local Law Enforcement as Staff

If a consistent theme of your discussions includes disorderly or unruly crowds, you may want to consider hiring local police to augment in-house staff. Good hiring practices can take the pressure of public safety off the venue's less experienced staff and leaves decisions to professionals. In addition to mitigating responsibility in the use of force, it will create a safer atmosphere for both patrons and staff.

Other Considerations

Bag Checks

Make sure you check with local laws with respect to checking the private belongings of your patrons. Bag checks can be time consuming endeavors for large venues, and the time required to perform bag checks must be considered when determining the number of gate entrances to your venue. The opinions of law enforcement officials (and discussions with other venues about crowd management) should be considered when planning bag checks and the thoroughness with which the bag checks are performed.

Chain of Command

A formal chain of command should be established for accurate communication between inside and outside crowd management staff. Structured communication will allow for more effective response times in the event of an emergency and also allows for better coordination with Law Enforcement and the Fire Marshall.

Considerations on Event Cancellation

Issues on safety are paramount; if unruly crowds, weather, fire, security, or weather might compromise crowd safety, the decision to cancel or postpone an event must be considered. Excluding the weather, these decisions will be made jointly by the venue, promoter, entertainers, law enforcement, and the Fire Marshall. However, the venue holds ultimate responsibility for safety, and often common sense will dictate whether the show will go on.

<<<Read: Crowd management at your venue – Part 1

Gain from our experience

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