City of Tuscaloosa tightens occupancy codes for businesses

Local News

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Officials in the city of Tuscaloosa are cracking down on bars and restaurants who exceed their crowd capacity. Tuesday night the city council upgraded the city fire code ordinance.

Officials tell WIAT they don’t won’t to shut down any businesses. But if bars and restaurants don’t comply, their business could be closed down for three days.

Because of the new regulation, the Fire Marshal will be making sure businesses don’t exceed their capacity.

Allison Smith supports the city’s new direction. She is a bartender at the Copper Top bar. Smith says possibly having your bar closed three days will make a business think twice about overcrowding.

“As a city of Tuscaloosa, we want it to be known as a safe city.  We don’t want parents to send their kids to school here worrying about fights or shootings at bars. So with this crowd control it is for the safety of the students and the people that live in

this town,” Smith said.

City Councilor Kip Tyner says shutting down a bar is a last resort option.

“We are not in the business of closing bars and restaurants, in fact if they are ten or fifteen or twenty people over we will work with them to remove some of the folks. We’ve had repeat offenders of upwards of over a hundred over the fire code. So this is very serious” Tyner said.

According to Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue, investigators handed out ten citations in 2014 to bars who exceeded their capacity. No businesses were shut down.

Occupancy limits are established for businesses and commercial operations to ensure that people can safely exit if there is a fire.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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