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Firefighters make sure bars are safe on St. Patrick's Day weekend

Posted at: 03/16/2013 11:33 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

The St. Patrick's Day Parade may be over but the night is just beginning for police and firefighters.

Many are working overtime to make sure everyone stays safe throughout Saturday night.

The big crowds put law enforcement agencies on high alert on Saturday.

Rochester Police even added 60 officers for the festivities.

While police kept an eye on the crowd the Rochester Fire Department kept their eye on the bars and restaurants, making sure they were meeting occupancy requirements.

News10NBC tagged along with the Rochester Fire Safety Division on Saturday.

We can all remember that terrible tragedy in Brazil back in January when more than 230 people died in a night club fire. It's incidents like that which show the importance of crowd control in bars.

That's why the Rochester Fire Division says it isn't taking any chances.

They say they monitor the bars year round, but on big holiday weekends like St. Patrick's Day weekend they don't want to let any bar slip through the cracks.

It's one of the busiest bar nights of the year, but the amount of party goers can create a rather dangerous situation and that's when these guys step in.

“We're just there to remind and say look, you've got some rules to follow and we're here to remind you to follow the rules,” said Ted Kuppinger of the Rochester Fire Department.

The Rochester Fire Safety Division has been visiting several bars throughout the day Saturday, making sure they aren't over capacity and that customers are safe.

“We count the number of doors in the place, we count the square-footage in the place, we count the furnishings in the place and then we come up with an occupancy and that occupancy needs to be maintained,” said  Kuppinger.

They count every single person inside of the bar.

News10NBC visited Matthews Bar and Grill with the team. It passed with flying colors.

The trio tries to work very closely with bar owners so they are always on the same page. 

“If a place is too crowded people can't get to the bar and get the beverages that they want any ways, so either way people aren't going to make money. The owner isn't going make money if the place is over crowded,” said  Kuppinger.

At the end of the day it's all about safety. The Fire Safety Division says they've learned from mistakes in the past and want to make sure that never happens here in Rochester.

“We check the clubs on a regular basis to make sure that things don't slip through the cracks,” said  Kuppinger.

“Obviously things like Brazil and the night club fire in Rhode Island, these are things that go through my mind all the time and that's why the staff at the Fire Safety Division checks annually of all businesses,” said  Kuppinger.

The division visited more than 100 establishments so far and they will continue to do so throughout Saturday night. They say they found a few bars who were at over capacity on Saturday and those bars were ticketed.

Also, a reminder that the RPD, State Police and the Sheriff's Office will be out in full force  Saturday night looking out for drunk drivers, so make sure you get home safely. The DWI crackdown will continue on until Monday.