Skip to Top Main Navigation Skip to Left Navigation Skip to Content Area Skip to Footer
Topics:   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z All

Have an Exit Strategy

Have an exit strategy logo

To the Texas Fire Service, Community Partners, and Friends:

The "Have an Exit Strategy Where You Live, Work, and Play" initiative urges Texans to learn two ways out of any room they're in, whether that room happens to be their own kitchen, a board room at work, a movie theater, or any other locale.

The impetus for this statewide initiative came after studying the February 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub in W. Warwick, Rhode Island, where 100 patrons lost their lives, and our own 2004 random inspection of bars, nightclubs, lounges and dancehalls in eight Texas counties. Of the 189 establishments we inspected, 182 had means of exit violations.

Have an Exit Strategy is a concentrated effort to educate Texans and Texas business owners about simple fire safety rules and to ensure that all properties have clearly marked and freely accessible exits.

A campaign of this magnitude cannot succeed without grassroots support. I invite you to join me in spreading the Have an Exit Strategy message far and wide. By working together, we will achieve the common goal of making our communities safer.

Do You Have an Exit Strategy?

In the summer of 2004 the State Fire Marshal's Office conducted a fire safety evaluation of 189 bars, nightclubs, lounges and dancehalls in eight randomly selected Texas counties to determine if fire safety violations existed that were similar to those that had contributed to the multiple fatality fire at The Station nightclub. Of the 189 establishments we inspected, 182 had means of exit violations.

The gravity of this situation was compounded when you consider that in Texas there are more than 20,000 such entertainment facilities. That's why we developed the Have an Exit Strategy campaign.

We urge owners and managers of such facilities, and everywhere else where people gather, to make certain that all exits are clearly marked and accessible at all times, and that in case of fire, employees have an exit strategy that they understand and can execute.

To Texans who are eating, drinking, dancing or performing in these facilities: Make your safety and that of your friends, family and colleagues priority one. Whenever you enter a public place, learn where the exits are located. If you see an exit that is blocked, padlocked, or not clearly marked, such as the examples shown below, tell the manager and report the problem to your local fire department.

blocked exit door chairs and table blocking exit door

Fire safety is everyone's responsibility.

The Best Way Out May Not Be The Way In

In February 2003, 100 club-goers died needlessly when a fire broke out in The Station nightclub in Rhode Island. Pyrotechnics associated with the band on stage ignited nearby walls and ceilings and the fire spread rapidly. More than two-thirds of the 400-plus attendees immediately started toward the main entrance. The intensity of the flames and smoke caused the crowd to panic and surge forward, everyone pushing to reach the front door. Some of them fell, causing others to fall, and in less than 90 seconds the front door was hopelessly blocked by trapped people.

When a fire breaks out in a crowded place, people almost always head for the front door. It's the one exit they know. It's the one exit everyone knows. That's why, when you enter a public place or building you're not familiar with, give yourself exit options. Take a moment to look around and see where other exits are located, so you'll know where best to go in case a fire breaks out.

Remember, the best way out may not be the way in.

Spread The Word, Save a Life

Preventing fire-related fatalities in Texas boils down to one thing: making everyone, including facility owners and managers, aware of and responsible for spreading the Have an Exit Strategy message.

The following posters are currently available for order. Please contact:

"Little Door": When a fire breaks out and 200 people are trying to escape, here is what the door will feel like.

Fire Escape Maze Puzzle: Solve this puzzle as if your life depended on it.

Have an Exit Strategy Partners

A public service campaign such as Have an Exit Strategy rarely has the funding, manpower, or resources to achieve what it sets about to accomplish. The success of any such effort is the result of individuals, organizations, and companies who give of their time and money in an effort to further the public good. Such is the case in this initiative, and we thank the following for their help, guidance and inspiration.

To learn more about the Have an Exit Strategy initiative, to find out how you and your company or organization can get involved, or to order materials, please contact:

For more information, contact:

Last updated: 6/4/2018