Yesterday we reported about the fire marshal severely limiting the capacity of a hiphop show at Kelly's Olympian on Saturday, March 22. Today, Portland Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal Nate Takara has responded with a clarification on the event under discussion, outlining the ongoing back-and-forth between the venue and PF&R which led to Saturday's capacity cap. Takara clarifies that the particular show was not targeted specifically, and that the show room at Kelly's Olympian has always had an occupancy limit of 49. I'll copy and paste Takara's response in full (with a few bolded phrases, emphasis mine).
Dear Mercury,UPDATE: Lucia Appell, the general manager at Kelly's Olympian, has this to add:
PF&R wants to take this opportunity to correct and enhance information in your piece regarding capacity regulations at Kelly’s Olympian.
The performance space with stage at Kelly’s Olympian has always had an occupancy limit of 49 people. It is a room with one exit which can create a hazardous situation when it is over occupancy.
On Feb. 21, 2014, PF&R’s Fire Inspector had a conversation with the manager during a fire inspection clarifying the occupant load of the bar and stage area.
On 3/12/14 our inspector sent an email to the manager stating “…just want to reiterate the 49-person capacity for your music venue…we have been having some trouble with outside promoters not doing a good job of sticking to occupant loads, most notably in small spaces such as yours, so wanted to make sure this was clear.”
Our inspectors revisited Kelly’s Olympian on the night of 3/14/2014 and during the fire inspection 120 people were found in a room with a 49 person capacity limit. Kelly’s Olympian was cited and fined. Kelly’s Olympian applied for a special events permit for the show you are writing about and asked to double the occupancy load from 49 to 100 people for the performance space. Based on the fact that the room has only one exit and the inability of management to heed occupancy loads during our inspector’s most recent visits, it was denied.
Our codes are based on best practices that have been tested over time and the result of some very unfortunate situations where people have been hurt. As you can see from the facts in this case, we tried to work with the venue and educate them about their occupancy limits in a way that was not connected to any scheduled performances at the venue.
Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Marshal
The management at Kelly's Olympian was unaware of the legal venue capacity for years due to unclear wording on the posted sign. The Fire Marshal has since cleared up any confusion, and we are and will continue to be in compliance and cooperative. The Fire Marshal's office in this case was doing their job to keep people safe, and that is important to us. We would never deliberately put anyone in danger, for any reason.