Dance club safety should concern patrons, fire chief says

A night out in Costa Rica usually consists of drinking and dancing at local discotecas. However, aside from drink specials and band details, clients of dance clubs should also take into consideration the safety of the establishment.

This was made apparent Sunday when university students in a club in Brazil were confronted with a fire, and prevented from a safe exit because there was only one unlocked exit.

Some 231 people died in the incident, according to wire service reports.

Hector Chávez León, director of the Cuerpo de Bomberos, said that his fire department recognized that many of the Costa Rican dance clubs were unsafe and visited them to find the exact problems in 2007.

Some of the main issues they found were improperly illuminated exits, obstructed exits, too many persons in the same place, and rundown electrical systems, he said.

The result of the visits was the creation of a regulations manual designed to protect these places from fire and ensure they were able to safely clear out patrons should one arise, he said.

The fire department equipped every dance club with a manual and solicited the help of the Ministerio de Salud to make sure the businesses adhered to the standard. Owners of dance clubs are urged to consult the manual to make sure everything is up to code, said Chávez.

As for dance club patrons, each visitor should observe the building and make sure that in the event of an emergency nothing is blocking the exits. Also while inside, persons should observe when the room is becoming too full and a possible hazard, he said.

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