While election years have been called by some the "Silly Season", there is some silliness that has spilled over into the Fire Marshal profession in the last week. As a disclaimer, this is not a political post or commentary on any specific candidate or party. Just a discussion about what's going on and how one AHJ has had some success in the past.
The first incident occurred in Roanoke, VA on July 25, 2016 at a rally for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump complained about the local fire marshal limiting the number of people in the room where he was speaking. While this complaint wasn't all that disturbing - he did make it an almost request, "if they could, let them in", he also acknowledged that the limits were a fire regulation. You can see his comments on this video at the 19:15 point for about 45 seconds:
At another rally in Colorado Springs, CO a few days later on July 29th, Mr. Trump wasn't as polite, and challenged the competence and political leanings of the fire marshal there. He expressed his frustration at least three times during his nearly 60 minute speech. You can see those comments at 1:40, 50:58, and again in the last few seconds starting at 54:15. Statter911 posted the full video along with a local news story where Brett Lacy the fire marshal was interviewed.
First and foremost - a big word of thanks to FM's Brett Lacy and Daniel Rakes (Roanoke, VA) for standing their ground, enforcing the code, and ensuring the safety of not only the public at large, but the candidate as well. I am not sure how they approached the challenge, but it was obviously effective.
My experience has been with three major events in my county. One a Presidential visit and two campaign stops. I think we were successful with all of these events because we first engaged early with the organizers and set the ground rules - the fire code - for the event. Second, we also communicated early and often with the Secret Service advance team. They became a tremendous ally and supported our efforts. They did not want the person they are protecting to be in a hazardous or illegal situation.
I post this here to highlight the potential, show how these two FM's stood their ground, and offer at least my history with such events. If anyone else has experience or suggestions (or horror stories) from their experiences, please share.