Making Sure Fire and Life Safety is Achieved for Public Gathering

NASFM Road to Reopening

Source: National Association of State Fire Marshals

Many businesses, especially those where many people gather, have been closed during the pandemic; some that haven’t been closed have had their businesses curtailed to one extent or another. At the same time, many fire inspection agencies have been working remotely or on modified schedules. The result is that, as businesses reopen or become fully operational, it will be necessary to closely monitor them and “reeducate” them where necessary to assure the pre-pandemic level of fire safety is maintained. To that end, a close look at the fire code requirements for trained crowd managers is in order. 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 101, Life Safety Code, NFPA 1, Fire Code, and the International Fire Code all require crowd managers in places of assembly at a rate of one trained crowd manager for each 250 occupants. The training of these crowd managers must be approved by the enforcing agency (usually the fire marshal). According to a job task analysis that was conducted, much of the training for these individuals centers around preventing a fire or other disaster, and knowing what to do should an emergency occur. It’s like having fire inspectors in every assembly occupancy!

The most prominent provider of this training, Fire Marshal Support Services, has used the COVID-19 pause to update and add value to their crowd manager training course.

  • They have developed a module for reopening a business during the COVID pandemic. This new module offers advice and direction on how to safely reopen after being affected by the pandemic, including how to calculate reduced occupant loads, methods to ensure a level of sanitation to avoid spreading the virus, and how to help customers avoid exposure. The update includes new information from the 2021 ICC and NFPA codes relating to the subject matter. Their Web site has been completely updated to improve the ease of use and to deliver world-class virtual training.

This training, available at, is recognized by many national fire service organizations, including the National Association of State Fire Marshals, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (Fire & Life Safety Section), and a plethora of local and state organizations. The training was specifically developed for compliance with the ICC and NFPA codes, which require trained crowd managers in public assembly occupancies and outdoor events. The purpose of the code requirement is to ensure that, where people gather, the staff have the necessary training to reduce the risk of a disaster from occurring, and, if one is unavoidable, knows what to do based on the event. The training takes an “all risk approach” and includes risk assessment and mitigation for fire, weather, crime, and other emergencies. 

Keeping our communities safe is the primary goal. This training should be provided for the staff at all public assemblies to ensure an enhanced level of safety. 

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