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Texas Department of Insurance
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Have an EXIT Strategy

Whenever you go clubbing or to a party, take a moment when you enter the place to check out the exits. It could save your life.

In the summer of 2004, the State Fire Marshal's Office (SFMO) conducted fire safety inspections of bars, nightclubs, lounges and dance halls in eight Texas counties after studying the fire safety violations contributing to the tragic, 100-death February 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island and observing similar, recurring hazards during a county-wide inspection of bars and clubs in a Gulf Coast county in fall 2003.

Fire safety violations were classified according to five categories, including:

  • Fire protection features (alarms, sprinklers, extinguishers, etc.).
  • Building services (electrical systems, heating and cooling, gas).
  • Means of egress.

Means of egress – the way occupants evacuate a building – is the most important fire safety feature necessary in a building. Unfortunately, means of egress problems were the most common violation found by SFMO inspectors. Of the 189 establishments inspected in the summer of 2004, 182 had means of egress violations.

The State Fire Marshal believes that the safety of bar patrons depends on a collaborative effort involving bar owners, local fire departments and - principally - bar patrons and clubgoers who take responsibility for their personal safety by having an exit plan from whatever party venue they find themselves in.

Wherever you go to party or club, take a moment when you enter the place to check out the exits. There should usually be more than one exit, and each exit should be clearly identified and unobstructed. If necessary, ask a club employee where the exits are.

A fire-related catastrophe could strike a Texas nightclub. Less serious bar fires happen every week across the state.

To lessen the likelihood of a Station tragedy in Texas, the SFMO has developed "Have an EXIT Strategy," a collaborative fire-safety education effort involving the SFMO, TABC, club owners/managers, local fire marshals and departments, and other public safety organizations to get this simple message out to clubgoers:

You may now call the SFMO Bar Inspection Resource Line at 512-305-7943.

"Have fun, but have an exit strategy."

Additional Reading

SFMO's Fire Safety Evaluation Report: Bars, Nightclubs and Dance Halls (PDF)

NIST Final Report of the Technical Investigation of The Station Nightclub Fire

National Fire Protection Association Nightclub safety tips

Happy Land Social Club Fire – Have we learned the lessons?

For more information, contact:

Last updated: 2/9/2024