One minute everything is fine the next minute the Fire Marshall is screaming that there are too many people in one of your big tents. Well…it’s lunch time and it seems everyone wants to eat at the same time or it’s raining cats and dogs and these ticket holders want refuge.
You forgot to have people monitor the occupancy loads of the tent during peak periods allowing only the numbers which are allowed by that particular tent permit.
Now you have a little issue. You have to talk to the Fire Marshal face to face in an overcrowded tent to buy some time to put the required monitoring in place.
If you have had a good relationship with the Fire Marshal he will work with you until it is under control. If not, he may require you to use security or law enforcement to thin out the number of people in the tent.
If that happens there will be a lot of unhappy people, so make sure to have maintained a good relationship with all the building officials in the event of this unlikely scenario.
Another place where the Fire Marshal may not understand the type of spectator flow is in the merchandise tent, another large structure. He may walk in the front door of the tent and see a wall of people. Based upon the first observation he will most likely want to limit the number of people coming in the door , but he didn’t look at the number of people checking out which could be next to nothing because everyone is in the front of the tent shopping.
Is this tent overcrowded per code? No, it just seems that way. When the point of sale cash registers start ringing the crowd shifts from the shopping mode to the leaving mode and the occupancy loads are just right.
The nervousness of the Fire Marshal may be due to no one explaining to him what is going to happen in this tent, so make sure you do. I would make sure all these things are explained in preliminary meetings prior to the event.
It all comes back to having a plan.