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Tulsa Fire Marshals working to keep local clubs safe

Updated:
Blocked exits and overcrowding are occasional problems in Tulsa and the Tulsa Fire Marshal's office works to make sure club owners stick to the fire codes.

News on Six Reporter Emory Bryan says the scene in Chicago is the kind of thing that fire marshals want to prevent. And though all public buildings are rated for certain occupancy - nightclubs can pose a particular danger.

Ron Fegaly is a Tulsa Fire Marshal. He's assigned to the downtown nightclubs. "They have to count people in and out, they're supposed to count and they have counters, especially on the busy evenings they have to count people in and if they're not and we feel they're overcrowded we will lock the doors and count people out and if they're overcrowded take them to court."

When the fire marshal inspected a Tulsa nightclub February 3rd - they say it was overcrowded by 120 people - they gave the owner a ticket and now he's headed to court. The disco was rated for 150 people - but police counted 270 inside. They've since made changes - and had their occupancy rating upgraded to 273.

Ron Fegaly says in Tulsa - as in Chicago - crowds and alcohol can be a dangerous combination. “They're overcrowded, the lighting is low, the music is loud, the table and chairs are moving around so in a problem so if an emergency occurs, the first problem is panic.”

That's apparently what happened in Chicago - panic in an overcrowded club - with only one exit that wasn't locked - or blocked - something that fire marshals look for - but can't check every single night.”

The number of people allowed inside changes according the layout - the number of exits and whether or not the building has a sprinkler system. It's set by the city permitting office - and must be approved by the fire marshal's office.
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