WTOC Investigates: Pre-St. Patrick’s fire inspections

WTOC Investigates: Fire code inspections

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Restaurants, shops, bars, and clubs will all be busier and fuller than normal this weekend because of large St. Patrick’s Day crowds.

It’s perhaps the most important inspection because for a lot of businesses, this weekend is the most profitable of the year as we welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Deputy Fire Marshal Cheryl Mason says all local establishments get checked top to bottom by a fire inspector before St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.

“We started Dec. 1 of 2018 starting with our hotels, getting all those done, then moving to the bars and the restaurants,” Mason said.

Mason says during an inspection, she’s looking for any and all safety violations.

“If they have a sprinkler system, a fire alarm or a hood suppression; some other things may be electrical, making sure all of the panels have covers on them, and there’s no open spaces where someone could electrocute themselves,” Mason said.

While inspecting Club One - a multi-level entertainment complex well known for drag queen shows - an issue was found with a fire extinguisher. Club One General Manager Travis Coles says they always have extra fire extinguishers on-site for safety reasons.

“I appreciate that she caught that today and we were able to swap it out and fix the problem,” Coles said. No major problems were found with Club One.

If an issue is found during an inspection, small items have up to 30 days to be corrected, while larger life safety issues may have to be fixed immediately or within 24 hours before the business is allowed to re-open. Infractions leading to a failing inspection can cost a business a lot of money.

“If we fail an inspection, God forbid, that has down time until we can remedy the situation. While we’re all excited to make a lot of money between the bartenders, owners, and everybody, really, we want to do it in a safe way and make sure that everyone has a safe and prosperous festival,” Coles said.

Mason adds that everyone needs to be prepared to wait in long lines. All businesses are required to stay under maximum occupancy for safety reasons.

“So if you’re standing in line waiting to get into your favorite club, just be patient. Don’t give the staff a hard time or anything else. They’re all just trying to do their job making sure you’re in their facility safely,” Mason said.

Fire Marshals will be out and about at clubs and restaurants throughout the holiday weekend making sure exits are clear, the establishment is tracking the number of people inside, and that everyone is safe.

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