December 6, 2005
Albany -- The Albany Fire Department has received several complaints about store aisles congested with holiday merchandise displays. Now Inspectors are checking stores to make sure they could be evacuated safely in case of fire or emergency.
"Your front door looks great," Fire Inspector Sam Harris says to a store manager. "I looked at it when I came in. Everything is clear there and the way it's supposed to be."
Harris checks the Athlete's Foot on Dawson Road. "We are concerned about the customers as well as the employees being able to escape from building in an easy manner so that they do not get trapped."
After complaints about several congested stores, Inspectors are checking businesses. Fire Chief James Carswell said "Letting people come in your store, you are responsible for making sure they are safe. Being safe means they can get out in fire conditions."
Harris said "To remove the bars from the doors that are open for the public so if you would, just have these open during the day."
Fire doors can not be blocked, as stores try to protect against thieves. The aisles inside a store must be as wide as the exit door, because any delays during an evacuation could cause panic, injury, even death.
Harris said "Of course this is the most critical time. Where so many people are out." The storerooms of the business are also checked, to make sure employees are also protected.
"To insure there is no storage on the floor, that would create a trip hazard for the employees." said Lawson.
The Albany Fire Department reminds stores not to pack Christmas sales items in aisles for shoppers to see. They are checking. "Everything looks wonderful Mr. Lawson, and I really appreciate the job that y'all are doing."
Fire Inspectors also check for stores stacking items high above customers, to prevent falling merchandise injuries. If you think a store causes a hazard, contact your fire department. If an inspector finds a problem in a business, they will not leave until it has been solved or the store shut down.