Between now and November 8, a lot of different fire departments and fire marshals will deal with election events around the country. Of course, those of you in swing states will have the best chance of visits from one of the presidential candidates. As the Colorado Springs Fire Department and Fire Marshal Brett Lacey learned on Friday that can mean your decisions and reputation will suddenly face scrutiny and national attention.
It turns out Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rally in Colorado Springs is not the first time this year Trump has called attention to the actions of a fire department and fire marshals. At least four times since February Trump has made an issue over how fire marshals and others handled crowds at his events. As with the Colorado Springs Fire Department, one of those departments had to defend itself because of claims made by Trump.
Lacey, the Colorado Springs fire marshal, was called “disgraceful” and had his competency questioned by Trump during Friday’s speech after people were not allowed into the room because of the possibility of overcrowding. But the Phoenix Fire Department found itself with the opposite problem. Phoenix FD had to defend its safety record after tweets by Trump claimed the attendance at a July 12 event was at least three times the rated capacity.
It appears the tweets were intended to highlight the number of people attending the event and not meant as criticism of the convention center or ultimately the Phoenix Fire Department. Still, Phoenix FD found itself disputing Trump’s claims in an effort to make clear that the department would not allow such overcrowding to occur.
Phoenix Fire Department says City of Phoenix Fire Prevention Specialists set the capacity for the room at 4,200 people.
The fire department reportedly closed the doors once they reached capacity.
“No rules or codes were broken and no one was in danger at any time,” Deputy Chief Shelly Jamison says.
In Madison, Alabama on February 28, at least twice during a rally, Trump asked the fire department why they would not let others in to see the event. In the video of that rally (above) you hear Trump bring up the issue at 11:15, near the beginning of his speech:
They won’t let them in. Why can’t the come in? Fire Department let them in. Let them in. We got thousands of people over there. Let them in if you can.
About 28 minutes later, at 39:27, Trump talks about the fire department and the fire marshal not letting people in for the outside event.
Boy, I wish you could have gotten a better location. Look at that. I wish the cameras would just focus once on that area. It’s so unbelievable. It’s so crazy. And I wish they’d focus on that area where we have 4,000 people standing, that they won’t let in. That’s so sad. I would have let them in. I mean why is there a fire hazard when you’re standing outside?
Why? In all fairness. I’m sure I would like the fire (incomplete sentence). I have this problem. You know, I work very hard. My best friends have become fire marshals, because every time I go to a place we need the help of the fire marshals. But usually it’s on the inside of a building. Even there I say ‘Do me a favor let the people come in because they have to go.’
You have thousands of people standing out there. How the hell can you have a problem? We’re outside. There’s no building. We’re outside. Let them in Mr. Fire Marshal, whoever the hell you are. Let them come in. Let them come in. Come on. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. We need common sense in the world. right? We need common sense. You know. If we were on the inside of a building I’d say ‘okay can you let some in at least.’ Because we send away thousands of people. I hate it. I hate it.
Donald Trump also brought up the fire marshal during his speech a week ago in Roanoke, Virginia. This happened after some supporters were left outside in the heat, denied access to the room where the event was occurring (watch for yourself in the video above, starting at about 19:18).
And outside we have a lot of people and I wish they’d let them in. The fire department won’t let them in because of a fire regulation, which is very sad, because they’re outside. We have speakers out there, I think the speakers are burning up folks. It is hot. I wish the fire marshal. Where is the fire marshal? Is he around here? Come on fire marshal. If they could get in fire marshal. You know, you have doors that go right into the outside. I promise there is nothing. Like you don’t have a problem. I feel badly. We have those people. We have people standing outside. You could get a few more people inside. If they could let them in. So, that’s the way a builder would talk. Okay? That’s the way a builder would talk.