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Seattle Fire to implement 2020 initiative to make nightlife venues safer

Beginning in 2020, the Seattle Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division will begin writing citations for overcrowding, blocked exits and unsafe conditions at Seattle night clubs and event venues.

The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) inspects nightlife and event venues to promote an environment that is safe for employees and patrons. Some violations at nightclubs pose a significant and immediate threat to life safety. On January 1, 2020, the City will introduce a citation of $373 when Fire Prevention Officers observe unsafe conditions at the time of inspection:

  • Overcrowding or admittance of any person beyond the approved capacity of a building, room or space.
  • Exiting; not maintaining reliability of means of egress (ex: blocked exits, pathways, doors).
  • Unsafe conditions that involve illegal or improper occupancy or inadequate maintenance, or that are otherwise dangerous to human life or public welfare.

Additionally, nightclubs and event venues will receive citations for preventable alarms (two or more preventable alarms in a quarter of a calendar year) and failure to test and maintain fire protection systems (within the legally prescribed timelines).

Stakeholder communication: SFD prefers to educate building owners and managers about fire code requirements, working to achieve voluntary compliance. In general, when violations are discovered, inspectors will first issue a correction notice with information and a timeline for remedying the issue.

Penalties: Beginning on January 1, 2020, the penalty for fire code citations is $373 for the first violation and $746 for each subsequent violation in a 12-month period, except citations for preventable alarms which have a penalty range depending on the number of preventable alarms transmitted (read more).

Resources to avoid violations: The most important step to take for avoiding citations is ensuring employees understand and do not allow overcrowding or blocked exits. Additional information about fire safety inspections in nightlife venues and how to prepare for a successful inspection can be found on SFD’s website.

For more information, please visit our website or contact the Fire Prevention Division at