Cape Town – Bars and clubs in Claremont were unexpectedly visited by City officials on Friday night for a fire safety inspection and to check whether they were running legally.
The owners of the entertainment venues were approached by fire inspectors and law enforcement officers to check whether their business licences, population permits and liquor licences were up to date.
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said it was best to check whether the clubs were complying with the fire and safety regulations at night when the venues were busy and managers were present.
The fire safety inspection is to ensure that nightclubs are prepared to put out a fire or evacuate a crowd before the firefighters arrive at the scene. The City’s Fire and Rescue Services inspector for the south district Mark Pietersen said: “Due to limited resources, it is often a challenge for fire inspectors to check whether nightclubs are complying with the safety regulations.
"We rely on the owners and managers to maintain a building in terms of fire safety and the various licences.”
After visiting a number of clubs, none of them were fully compliant with the fire and safety regulations or licensing.
National building regulations were violated because there were illegal sections in a building, the fire detection panel was not working and or the liquor licences had expired.
As a result of some nightclubs not being able to provide proof of their business and liquor licences, the officers gave them a summons and a fine of R1000 for not having a business licence and R2500 for not having a liquor licence present.
Divisional commander Denzel Ramedies said that if owners did not maintain their fire detection and alarm systems then there would be a delay in patrons detecting a fire which means death and suffocation would happen faster.
Pietersen said there was a higher risk of a stampede happening in a venue and people being overwhelmed by smoke if there were no fire and safety regulations.
If nightclubs are compliant then the work for firefighters will also be made easier because they are under-resourced and have many incidents to respond to.
Smith said that the fire safety inspections would be increased across the city to ensure the safety of patrons due to the worrying outcome of the inspected establishments.