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Unsafe conditions

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by DijiStudios, Sep 14, 2008.

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Was I right in my decision to contact the fire marshal?

Poll closed Sep 28, 2008.
  1. Yes

    21 vote(s)
    87.5%
  2. No

    3 vote(s)
    12.5%
  1. DijiStudios

    DijiStudios Member

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    I'm not sure if this fits in here, but it's a bit of a rant about my evening tonight.

    I go into a local club to speak with the owner. While waiting for him, I walk around and notice several things wrong with the club. Lighting fixtures such as strobes, PAR64 cans, and even a few moving lights Zip Tied to the ceiling in various ways. I see speakers hanging with unrated chain and link clips. I also see numerous junction boxes wide open, no covers, and bare electrical wire hanging out of them (The wire was even stripped!).

    I notify the manager on duty of these things since the club was opening in less than an hour and that (At minimum) the fixtures should be immediately safety cabled, and the junction boxes taken care of.

    The manager didn't care.

    I go ahead and contact the fire departments non-emergency line when I leave, and request that a fire marshal comes out and inspects the location.

    The next thing I know, I'm about to be thrown in the back of a police car because the club claimed I was trying to get them shut down because they wouldn't give me a job.

    I've hated that club for years, in fact it's disgusting in there. I was not looking for a job, I was looking for rental information.

    The fire marshal did NOT inspect the location and allowed it to be opened.

    My question here -- Did I do the right thing?

    Honestly, I'm infuriated that I would even be threatened by the police for bringing up potentially deadly conditions. Especially since the fire marshall didn't bother going in due to the allegations that were supposedly made by myself.

    I'm curious as to what your opinions are here.

    - Matt
     
  2. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I guess you did the right thing, to personally clear your conscience, but, welcome to the world of clubs, where life is cheap and money talks. However, especially after the Rhode Island fire a few years ago, it's obvious that these things can go bad FAST.

    I still don't get how YOU almost ended up in a police car when obviously THEY had issues with their safety.

    Did you come back with a fire marshal, or what for him to arrive? If you waited, then that was asking for trouble and a fast response time at that.

    If you came back with the fire marshal, why did you even come back, again asking for trouble. Were you require to be there?

    Or, did the club owner overhear your call and confront you?
     
  3. DijiStudios

    DijiStudios Member

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    The fire marshals office called me and asked me to come back, which wasn't a problem as I was right across the street. They brought me inside where the manager on duty was and the accusations started to flare up on me.

    One police offer came up to me yelling at me to never call 911 for something like this, which I would never do. I called the fire departments non-emergency line.

    It wasn't even a fire marshal who arrived, it was just a fire truck with the fire chief who never bothered to inspect the place.

    The state attorney and county sheriff will hear about this on Monday as I know both of them.

    I'll also be calling the code enforcement agency.

    They pushed my last button by trying to get me arrested.

    They will either be shut down or will be handed countless fines over this one :)
     
  4. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    That story has so many leaks in it, I'm not sure what to make of it.

    Did you start an altercation or something? Last time I checked "trying to get a place shut down" was not a arrestable offense.

    I don't believe this went down how you claimed it did....

    also if you hated this place so much why did you try to get rental info?
     
  5. DijiStudios

    DijiStudios Member

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    Nope, no altercations happened at all. After speaking with the manager I left the facility and spoke with a police officer I knew who told me which office to called.

    Gave them a call, they asked for my first name and phone number in case they needed to contact me. I thought nothing else of it until they called me to come back.

    That is when they started accusing me.
     
  6. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I don't know that it's an offense to try to shut the place down, but if the manager is making a huge deal out of it and people are started to raise voices at one another, that's at least worth a "You, go in that corner, and you, get over in that over corner."

    Ethically, you raised red flags where people could get hurt, and that's the right thing to do. Realistically though, you're taking shots at someone's livelihood by having their business checked top-to-bottom, and not that there's anything wrong with that, but it would be best in that case to have told the fire marshall, "I'm sorry, but I do not wish to be involved in an inspection because I'm not an inspector, I just want the building to be safe, which it appears to not be."

    When a fire marshal shows up to do an inspection, unless invited by the owner, it's typically not a time you want to be around, because people tend to get really upset when fire marshals show up to do random, or in this case, not-so-random inspections.
     
  7. DijiStudios

    DijiStudios Member

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    The sad part is I really wasn't there long enough for anything to escalate. No yelling was done, In fact it seemed as if the police were the ones throwing it out of proportion more than anyone.

    The manager seemed more in shock than anything. The police were the ones pissed off at the whole situation, and they were the ones who offered to ban me.

    I don't care that I got banned from the facility nor kicked out, I'm absolutely furious that the fire marshal nor anyone from the fire department didn't even inspect the facility at all. The manager made a claim and everyone went with it.

    That place is a disaster waiting to happen and has been for years.
     
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Did you really expect a Fire Marshall to show up for a non-emergency situation on a Saturday evening? Since, as you say "That place is a disaster waiting to happen and has been for years," could you not have waited until Monday when the proper government office was open to lodge your complaint? It's possible the county's Fire Marshall is not even the proper AHJ for most of your concerns. It's likely your concerns should be addressed to the Office of Building Code Compliance, or equivalent, in your area.

    There appear to be inconsistencies in your story:
    "The fire marshal did NOT inspect the location and allowed it to be opened" and later, "It wasn't even a fire marshal who arrived, it was just a fire truck with the fire chief who never bothered to inspect the place."

    The timing of your actions makes me suspicious as to your true motives, and it's likely that others thought similarly.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2008
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    First off I have to agree that you would have to see some REALLY crazy stuff to get the fire marshall to come and shut a place down on the spot. Furthermore, a lot of the things you are talking about are violations of building code, not necessarily in the fire marshall's jurisdiction. I'm not quite as cynical as the rest of the group here and I do have to give you points for being proactive and making a call immediately. But the truth is, a formal complaint with the city during normal business hours is the way these things are typically done.

    We've discussed issues like this before and one point that hasn't been brought up here is the potential of getting yourself blacklisted in your career for being too aggressive in safety issues. It sounds crazy but it can happen. In the end however, I feel this is one of those things that there is no one correct answer. However, there is a simple question to answer for you to know if you did the right thing, FOR YOU.

    If the _______ (insert dangerous situation you saw) goes bad and there is a ________ (insert disaster) tomorrow, Will you be able to sleep at night?

    The answer to that question will be different for everyone. Some will say that there was no point in doing what you did. Others will say you didn't go far enough and you should be pounding on the door of the Fire Marshall's office first thing Monday morning. But none of that really matters, what matters is if something horrible happens, will you be able to live with yourself and the potential guilt of having the knowledge to possibly prevent the disaster? If yes, then you did enough, if no, you still need to do more. In the end the only member of CB you have to live with is yourself.

    Finally, If as others don't seem to believe your motives were pure in all this, when a scene gets ugly and the cops get involved, you immediately start doing more damage than good.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2008
    DijiStudios and (deleted member) like this.
  10. Franklights

    Franklights Member

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    good call gaff - that is the question we ask ourselves quite often in the field: "What is the measure of safety?" , "can I live with myself if the worst that could happen happens" , "did I do my best to make things as safe as possible?" and Finally "is there another way to do this or do I just need to not do it at all?"

    I would also suggest that next time you remain anonymous in your tip. you don't want to be blacklisted or be known as a trouble maker. no threats and no scenes.

    You did the right thing though.
     
  11. DijiStudios

    DijiStudios Member

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    To correct the "Inconsistencies" in the post, I must state that it was the fire marshals office that was contacted, but the fire chief on duty was who had arrived on scene, not the fire marshal himself.

    The Police were already located at the facility, as there are generally 10-20 squad cars outside of the club mentioned on the average evening they are open due to various reasons, but the primary one being the dealing of drugs and alcohol. This club is notorious for it's dealings with cocaine and marijuana.

    Personally, I wanted to hold a rave in the facility with a few local DJs to see what kind of money could be made in the Boca Raton area. That's why I was in there in the first place. The best time to get in there is before they open as all of their lighting is up and running, so is their sound system.


    When I see stuff like open junction boxes with live (and stripped bare) romex poking through, par cans and strobes being flown with zip ties, and speakers flown with unrated chain and link clips, I wonder who allowed anyone to fly the stuff.

    Generally, I'm hired on to events for three reasons - I'm a lighting guy and I'm good at what I do, I know how to get things done quickly, and I know how to get things done properly. In the companies I work for, I'm known as the hard ass for doing things right when it comes to safety regulations. I've had the crews I've worked with completely take down rigged (and loaded) truss because they thought that a roof was strong enough to support 1.5 tons of equipment, when in fact you wouldn't want to put more than 700 pounds or so.

    I'm a hard ass, and I like being that way. It keeps people safe, it makes sure that there are few accidents (None on my job, but it is a fact that one will happen eventually in one way or another).

    That's why I bothered to make the call. The people I work with are loyal towards me and I'm loyal towards them. That's why I don't mind giving my first name (only) to the offices of either Code Enforcement or the Fire Marshal.

    And when it comes to the club, I have nothing against the owner or the club itself. Although, there have been several law suits in the past few years over safety issues in there (including the death of a boxer as the boxing rink was too close to the corner of a stage).

    I wouldn't bother to call if it was just a few cables handled improperly, or lights clamped but not safety cabled, or even improperly covered junction boxes that are out of reach of people. It's the fact that safety is the last though on the facilities mind that makes me wonder how their electrical contractor even manages to hold his license.

    Either way, I'm sure I'll be getting a call from the owner when he is back in town. Hopefully he doesn't try and sue, although I very, very highly doubt that would stick up in court.
     
  12. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I voted no, simply because in my experience, it's the building department that deals with that kind of stuff. And if the issues were that serious, I probably would have also called local news media. Nothing motivates local government better than bad publicity.
     
  13. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Since as you stated, "The club has been that way for a long time" have you considered that someone is being paid to look the other way? It happens.
     
  14. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I agree with the overall sentiment of the previous posts. In general, I think you did the right thing by contacting someone you feel was responsible for making sure the venue was safe / up to code. However, I think the way you went about it was where you went wrong. I think you probably should have waited until Monday and contacted the Fire Marshalls office directly. I also would have certainly remained anonymous in my reporting.

    It does seem that there is something not quite right about the way the police and fire Departments responded, but that could be for many reasons. They could have been misinformed by the dispatcher who took your call, they could have intereperted you as being more hostile than you are making yourself out to be (you said yourself you are a hard ass and you hated the club), or there could be some dishonesty / politics between them and the club that you were seeing the wrong end of.

    ~Dave
     
  15. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Cops are normally on an ego trip. A friend of mine got arrested from a club when we went to go pull out his gear they rented when they did not pay him. They held some false accusation on that. Cops try as much as possible to be the typical hard ***** cop, who likes to push people around. Once a cop was trying to arrest me, and when i asked him what for he threatened to use his tazer. All i did then was shut up and say i want to speak to my lawyer. Cops dont like it much when you accuse them of tresspassing without a warrant or any probable cause.
     
  16. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Yes, I think you were right to report it, however, you should have waited until business hours. Unless you are an expert in the field and have jurisdiction to close down the club, I wouldn't have made a stink at the time. You reported the safety infractions to the manager and that was right (because he may not have known of the infractions), but that is as far as you needed to take it at that point.

    As for the cops, they were just doing their job. They are trained to take an aggressive stance, especially in hot areas (which you describe this club as being).
     
  17. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I reluctantly agree. The way inspections tend to go though, is that when violations are present, the business is ticketed and told they've got _____ time to get it fixed. I think it'd take a lot more than some open junction boxes and suspicious rigging to get a business that's been in operation for awhile shut down immediately. However, that's not to say that if that situation was accurate, cops still wouldn't be concerned about interference with their sting operation.
     
  18. RichMoore

    RichMoore Member

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    The police officers got upset, because they most likely work the club as off-duty security and if the club is closed, they don't make their money and they are probably paid a bonus amount to not look up where the wiring is located.

    As the Master of Ceremonies says in "Cabaret", "......money makes ze world go 'round."
     
  19. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    This guy did the right thing. It's the so-called 'authorities' who dropped the ball here. Power trippin' cops- nothin' ever changes. So F them.

    The only thing that wakes people up is (like I've said so many times before) something like The Station fire where 100 people or so have to die.

    Yes, club managers DON'T care about lights, safety or any of that crap. They only care about how much money the BAR makes because that- and only that- keep the club open and his paycheck coming in. "Bands? Who cares. They're scum, and a dime a dozen."

    Across the board, THAT's the reality of club life.
     
  20. philhaney

    philhaney CBMod CB Mods

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    I hope that doesn't mean that they have Romex inside conduit??? :shock:

    BTW, you did the right thing. ;)
     

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