Odessa Fire Marshal Sending Out a Warning To Clubgoers

Josh Navarro
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Just how safe is the bar or club you go to on the weekends? More people in the Basin means bigger crowds. NewsWest 9 went to find out what you need to know before you hit the dance floor.

An inferno ignites at a nightclub in Santa Maria Brazil on Sunday, killing more than 230 party goers. The club was at maximum capacity as 1,000 plus people tried to shove their way to escape.

"The tragedy in Brazil is a reminder that safety is everyone's responsibility," City Of Odessa Fire Marshal, Detra White, said.

White says they go out and inspect clubs and bars without notice making sure they are in compliance with the codes that are in place.

"They have to be inspected every year. So there are safe guards that are in place but in the event of an emergency, such as a fire, people just panic. That's why we want to start thinking even before they ever step foot in one of the night clubs or even a crowded restaurant," White said.

Some of the clubs have been here for a while and no new venues are being built to accommodate the influx of people in the Basin.

"Some of our clubs in this area, are older, they fall under an old code, and they were sufficient when they were built. But we just encourage people, make sure your watching out for your own safety," White said.

Some of the violations they say to look for are blocked exit paths, dangerous routes and multiple locks on doors. White says if a club is jammed packed like sardines, it raises a red flag of danger.

Nearly 10 years ago, the same kind of incident happened in Rhode Island where a fire set off by pyrotechnics was used by the rock band who was performing. That fire claimed 100 lives that night, something local authorities don't want to see happen.

"That's one of the things the City of Odessa, both the police department and the fire marshal's, do watch for overcrowding occupancy. Fire inspectors can be called at any time," White said.

No pyrotechnics are allowed in nightclubs around here, the only place allowed is at the Ector County Coliseum. The fire marshal says if a venue has violated a code, they could face a $500 in fines, along with a class C misdemeanor, which can be enhanced by a municipal judge.