The maximum permitted capacity of nightlife: urban or security question?

The economic consolidation of leisure and catering trade sector involves the need to watch over in order to hold a quality service in all the aspects of the sector. Unfortunately the latest news leads us to think over on the activities gauges on entertainment and nightlife activities.

One of the qualitative aspects of the establishments should set the technique section, a deep reflection must be done on the capacity of nightlife establishments, an adaptation must be done in order to accomplish the specific rules in regulations of safety and evacuation area, so that must guarantee the safety of users’ protection in accordance with the legal parameters. In that sense, the application of current Technical Building Code in its Basic Document SI (Safety in case of fire) establishes some density values that fit the reality of the intended use in these establishments. This value should be taken as the basic parameter of design in order to assess and determine the occupation of these places and then define the other security measures in order to find out the evacuation and protection means that finally will help to guarantee a safe evacuation of the place.

It is difficult to understand that do exist some places where the capacity has been limited to low standards or other requirements from the competent administrative authorities, considering that in some concrete cases and taking the personal experience as a set point, theses locals accomplish with all the measures and safety requirements which makes them able to increase the gauges. So, it is considered from a technical vision the real occupation capacity must be adjusted depending on which uses will be taken in it and giving a priority to the compliment of the regulated evacuation conditions understanding that it will means that the users will be never in risk.

From the responsibility of the projects technicians and the administration it must be tried to adapt within the actual regulations the revision and adaptation of the gauges depending on its uses, above everything, the ones which have a strong gauges limitation that the regulation says. A correct occupation assessment on establishments must be a guarantee of quality and responsibility of the business.

Therefore, the competent administrative detail for authorization by the Recreation and Entertainment activities should take the option of work on a regulation or revision process of the occupation on the locals where the previous conditions are found. At the same time, this fact will mean a deep revision of the means of protection and evacuation. In this way, a high quality of the leisure trade in Catalunya will be kept, in benefit and serenity of the users and promoters.

Xavier Iglesias
Technical industrial engineer
Engineering department and environment of International Nightlife Association