Since the crowd crush at the E2 Night Club took 21 lives in Chicago (February 17, 2003) and the inferno at The Station nightclub (February 20, 2003) claimed 100 lives in the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, NFPA has enacted tough new code provisions for fire sprinklers and crowd management in assembly venues. Those provisions mark sweeping changes to the codes and standards governing safety in assembly occupancies. Assemblies are any occupancy where 50 or more people gather.
These costly fires sparked awareness about the fire code issues in nightclubs and other places of assembly. Those issues surround crowd management - controlling groups of people at clubs, conventions, and other gatherings, and making sure that facilities are equipped to handle such crowds so that the occupants can get out alive. (See crowd management brochure.)
Fire Prevention Code Requirements
The 2021 edition of NFPA 1, Uniform Fire Code, states:
188.8.131.52 Crowd Managers 184.108.40.206.1
Assembly occupancies shall be provided with a minimum of one trained crowd manager or crowd manager supervisor. Where the occupant load exceeds 250, additional trained crowd managers or crowd manager supervisors shall be provided at a ratio of 1 crowd manager or crowd manager supervisor for every 250 occupants, unless otherwise permitted by one of the following:
(1) This requirement shall not apply to assembly occupancies used exclusively for religious worship with an occupant load not exceeding 500.
(2) The ratio of trained crowd managers to occupants shall be permitted to be reduced where, in the opinion of the AHJ, the existence of an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system and the nature of the event warrant.[101:220.127.116.11; 101:18.104.22.168]