In order to make certain that the public is safe, and potentially save lives, I am proposing an ordinance that would require all Portland nightclubs to have fire sprinkler suppression systems regardless of when they opened for business.
Mayor Hales assigned me oversight of Portland Fire & Rescue a little over 2 months ago and in that intervening time my staff and I have been attempting to get up to speed on the incredibly diverse and important work your firefighters perform every day. One very important role they perform that doesn't get a lot of attention is inspecting the buildings and facilities we all use to make sure they are safe. This is performed under the authority of Portland Fire Marshal Nate Takara's office and is vital to keeping Portland safe.
However a gap in this system has come to my attention and I believe it is time to fill that gap. It can be a bit technical, so bear with me. There are different occupancy classifications for different uses of buildings and facilities. All bars and nightclubs are considered an A2 occupancy. And if you wanted to open up a new bar or nightclub that had capacity for over 100 people you'd have to make sure that building had a fire suppression sprinkler system. Falling in the gap are bars and nightclubs that have been operating before the A2 sprinkler requirement was put on the books and didn’t have to install fire sprinkler suppression systems.
I believe the unique characteristics of nightclubs (loud music, large crowds, intoxicated patrons) pose a serious safety concern and should be required to install fire suppression sprinkler systems regardless of when they opened for business. The documents here on my website are the ordinance I filed with City Council for the 2:00 PM hearing September 4, 2013 as well as some Frequently Asked Questions that can provide more insight on this proposal.
I will note that the majority of nightclubs are already operating in buildings with fire suppression sprinkler systems and the universe of property owners and businesses this new regulation will impact looks to be less than 20, although the final number will not be known until a new round of inspections occurs in the coming months.
As always please feel free to contact me regarding this and any issue your city government is involved with. If you have more specific questions about this nightclub sprinkler requirement, please contact my Policy Manager Matt Grumm – (503) 823-4151, firstname.lastname@example.org -- for more information.