With Halloween coming upon us, families will soon start visiting haunted houses, ghost walks and other special amusements.
The Kansas State Fire Marshal, Doug Jorgensen, would like to remind everyone that even though these amusements are intended for family Halloween entertainment, these structures present an increased risk with regards to fire and life safety.
Kansas has the 2006 International Fire Code adopted which requires these types of facilities to comply with major components of fire and life safety. History has shown that complying with life safety requirements is vital. The tragic May 11, 1984 fire in the Haunted Castle at the Six Flags Great Adventure Park in New Jersey resulted in the deaths of eight visitors due to their inability to immediately exit the amusement structure.
If you are considering operating or designing one of these amusements, special attention should be given to the following requirements:
- Automatic Sprinkler System in accordance with National Fire Protection Agency 13
- Automatic Fire Alarm System in accordance with National Fire Protection Agency 72
- Number of exits
- Exit signs, illumination and emergency lighting
- Travel distance to exits
- Use of flammable liquids
- Use of combustible interior finish
- Location of extinguishing equipment
- Adequate staff trained in evacuation and equipped with flashlights
- Established emergency procedures
- Readily available means to notify local fire, police and emergency medical services
For added safety, it may be necessary to limit occupant load, add additional emergency exits or establish other special precautions to minimize a potential risk due to some unique circumstance. In any event, every effort should be made to provide an enjoyable but safe environment as determined by the local fire inspection authority.
The specific requirements may be modified by the state fire marshal to allow alternative measures to obtain an equivalency to the code. K.S.A.31-136 provides procedures for exemptions of these requirements upon written request. The written request must demonstrate that the specific requirement causes unnecessary hardship.
Haunted House operators should download our handy checklist (PDF) to help create a safe and enjoyable Haunted House experience for their patrons.
Have a safe and happy Halloween.