Wilmington Fire Department cracks down on overcrowding

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Fire Department is cracking down on businesses that allow dangerous overcrowding.

In February, the city increased fines for overcrowding in businesses where people congregate, such as bars and restaurants.

The new fine charges $100 per person over the building's allowed occupancy limit.

"The new ordinance was enacted February 1, basically for overcrowding," said Assistant Fire Chief Frank Blackley.  "Instead of a $500 penalty, it is now $100 per person over the posted limit."

So far two businesses have been charged with overcrowding fines since the increased fees were put in place.

The Rhino Club in downtown Wilmington had more than 40 people over the posted limit of 180, and received a $4,000 penalty.

Club 21 on Market Street in Wilmington was given a $13,800 fine for having 138 people above the posted limit inside the bar.

"If there is a fire, trying to get everyone out quickly can be a task," said Blackley.  "If it's a bar, you may be affected by alcohol which will affect your senses and can delay reaction."

Hell's Kitchen manager Drew Flynn says his staff is always monitoring the number of people who enter and leave the bar.

"Our door guys have always been great about keeping the right amount of people in here," said Flynn.  "They use a clicker so they click everybody who comes out.  We also have a log sheet, so when people go out, they mark the people going in and out."

Blackley said the fire department takes these violations very seriously and they will continue checking overcrowding situations that pose a threat to the public.

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