State trains crowd control managers

The Station nightclub fire of 2003 brought about a number of changes to safety regulations in Rhode Island.

Since 2004, every establishment is required to have a licensed crowd control manager. It's been handled quietly, but the position is in the spotlight this week as the state marks the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.

Any place that can hold more than 50 patrons -- whether it's a dance club or a wedding hall -- needs to have a crowd manager.

More than 100 people signed up for a seminar Monday to register as crowd managers. They learned how to handle and safely evacuate people that come to their businesses.

"The license doesn't cost a penny. The training is free. It's a four-hour training class. The license itself is free," said Jim Bruckshaw of the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Business owners are aware of the regulation and said for the most part, the training is worthwhile.

"We're all pretty much more aware of the crowd, the surroundings. Try to prevent anything bad from happening. It's a good eye opener," said Mark Finn of the Harbourside Restaurant.

State fire marshal Jack Chartier, who is in charge of enforcing the regulation, said most everyone has gone along with the requirements.

"I'd say we're over 95 percent of compliance. This has been a program that has been well worth its while. It's taken a while to get it up and going. I think one of the things that drives it, is the hospitality industry is truly interested in having safe facilities," Chartier said.

The position is needed for any establishment or event with more than 50 people, and training seminars take place about every two months.