Committee Meeting

of

ASSEMBLY REGULATORY OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

"Testimony on safety in New Jersey amusement parks, sports arenas, parks, nightclubs and
other entertainment venues; review current safety regulations that govern these places"

LOCATION:

Committee Room 8  
State House Annex
Trenton, New Jersey

DATE:

March 6, 2003
10:00 a.m.

 

MEMBERS OF COMMITTEE PRESENT:

Assemblyman William D. Payne, Chairman

Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, Vice-Chairman

Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez

 

ALSO PRESENT:    
     

James F. Vari 

Gabby Mosquera Thea M. Sheridan
Office of Legislative Services Assembly Majority Assembly Republican
Committee Aide Committee Aide Committee Aide


                                                     

Meeting Recorded and Transcribed by
T
he Office of Legislative Services, Public Information Office,
Hearing Unit, State House Annex, PO 068, Trenton, New Jersey

ASSEMBLYMAN WILLIAM D. PAYNE (Chairman): Good

morning. My name is William Payne, Chairman of the Assembly Regulatory

Oversight Committee. I welcome you here today to provide information for us

as to the extent of New Jerseyís regulations that are protecting the citizens of our

State at various venues here -- entertainment venues, and others.

The recent tragedies that occurred in some of the nightclubs and

other kind of entertainment venues around our country have given us pause. It

is our intention here to hear of any types of regulations that are currently in

place to protect our citizens. I think that it gives us an opportunity.

Unfortunately, it has taken such serious tragedies such as these to bring us to

this point. However, I think itís an obligation on our part to see to it that we

are proactive, to see to it that we can prevent these similar kinds of tragedies

that have existed elsewhere. Weíre not concerned only with those tragedies that

occurred as a result of fires. But, also, if you recall -- and Iím sure that itís not

long ago that we saw these headlines -- scores of people died in a Rhode Island

blaze, and also, in Chicago, other people who were victims in a stampede,

Chicago stampede, which killed 21 others. That was not as a result of a fire,

but as a result of panic that occurred within those facilities.

I think that what we need to do is be on top of these situations --

that we have not only nightclubs and other types of entertainment venues, but

we also have movie theaters. And I think that from time to time we do hear of

people who are attempting to leave a venue and find that either the doors are

locked or bolted, etc. I, even to this day, I hear anecdotal evidence of people

who are telling me that they have been in various kinds of entertainment venues

and recurring kinds of situations where they, number one, when something has

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erupted, they did not know where the exits were -- that the exits may have been

blocked or locked, etc., here in our State of New Jersey. Itís incumbent upon

us, number one, to make sure that whatever regulations are in place are, in fact,

in place, and to see to it that those of us in positions of responsibility will have

ongoing inspections, etc., to see to it that these things are being complied with.

So we are having this hearing today in order to look into those

kinds of situations, and because we simply must prevent anything like this

happening in the State of New Jersey. With the pictures of the Chicago and

Rhode Island nightclub catastrophes still vivid in our minds, we want todayís

hearing to be more expansive in scope, as we will focus on public safety, and as

I say, a variety of entertainment venues. I have gone so far as to say that we

need to, also, look at the safety kinds of regulations that are in place for fairs

and for circuses, etc., that we have, traveling circuses, that travel throughout the

State of New Jersey and elsewhere. From time to time, we do read about, hear

about animals or elephants, etc., that sometimes panic, and people within these

sites sometimes have been injured because of that. I want to make sure that we

in New Jersey are at the very forefront of this.

The purpose of this hearing, as I say, is to review the current safety

rules and regulations governing these public venues, and ensure that there are

adequate safety procedures in place to prevent tragedies such as those that

occurred recently in Chicago and in Rhode Island. Twenty-one individuals died

in a panic stampede in Chicago, in order to escape from pepper spray. And I

want to see what are the kinds of trainings that are in place in our venues for

security -- people who are responsible for security. Do we have training there,

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and who is responsible for seeing to it that these people are trained adequately.

We donít want this to happen in New Jersey, although itís

happened elsewhere. Itís our responsibility to ensure that there are proper safety

measures to keep New Jerseyís residents safe in a crowd. City and town

officials, along with State officials, must take a hard look at New Jerseyís code

enforcement laws and regulations. One life, let alone 118 lives, is too precious

to allow negligence on New Jerseyís entertainment venues.

I would say, Iím happy to see, here, we have the Commissioner of

the Department of Community Affairs, Susan Bass Levin, who will open up this

hearing by commenting on New Jerseyís safety rules and regulations. And we

have others, too, who are deeply involved in this.

And I would like to welcome the Commissioner at this time.

I would like, first of all, to introduce our Vice Chairman,

Assemblyman Joe Cryan, and Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez.

Thank you very much.

Would you have a statement to make, Mr. Cryan?

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: No.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: All right. Fine.

Then Commissioner Bass Levin, thank you very much for coming.

C O M M I S S I O N E R S U S A N B A S S L E V I N: Good morning,

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee.

I thank you for the opportunity to speak to this Committee about

New Jerseyís building and fire codes. As the Chairman said, two recent

nightclub tragedies have drawn national attention and raised numerous

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questions about the adequacy of existing construction and fire safety

requirements in nightclubs and in other establishments.

Iím here this morning to tell the Committee and the citizens of New

Jersey that the building and fire codes in our State are very strong, that

enforcement of these codes is very strict, and that the penalties for violating

these codes can be appropriately severe. We are committed to take all

precautions necessary to keep our community safe.

In light of the recent tragic events in Chicago and Rhode Island, the

Department of Community Affairs has ordered inspections of nightclubs and

other similar establishments throughout the state. And we have asked the

Division of Fire Safety and the Division of Codes and Standards, within the

Department, to undertake a thorough review of the Stateís fire safety

requirements for these establishments.

The Division of Fire Safety is headed by Larry Petrillo, who is the

State Fire Marshall, and he is here with me. Since the inception of New Jerseyís

fire code, we have successfully reduced civilian fire fatalities by more than 70

percent in this State.

The Division of Codes and Standards is headed by Bill Connolly,

as the Director, who is, also, here with me. That Division enforces building

codes, in partnership with the Stateís municipalities, to protect the health and

safety of our citizens.

The first question is, what are we doing today? The State of New

Jersey has very stringent building and fire codes, and stringent code enforcement.

Our system is recognized as one of the best in the nation and hereís why: Our

building codes ensure that buildings are constructed correctly and safely in the

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first place. Our fire codes ensure that buildings are inspected thoroughly and

regularly and remain up to code. Our codes are enforced by highly-trained

inspectors.

Under the Uniform Construction Code, New Jersey has adopted

national model building codes and standards. All new construction and

rehabilitation work is subject to plan review and inspections to make sure that

the work complies with codes and standards. Our construction code has

regulations when a building changes its use, from a restaurant to a nightclub, for

example, to ensure that we trigger a series of requirements including looking at

the construction of platforms and stages, the adequacy of exits, lighting,

illuminated exit signs, protection of stairways -- which are particularly essential

in a nightclub environment. Both our construction codes and our fire codes

regulate the flames-spread rating of interior finishes.

Our fire codes ensure that we have lighted exit signs, emergency

lighting, panic hardware on doors. All doors must open out, and interior

finishes must use materials that do not burn rapidly or produce heavy smoke.

In a routine occupancy, inspections are conducted annually. In

so-called hazardous occupancies -- nightclubs, nursing homes, hospitals -- as

defined in the code, inspections must be conducted quarterly.

The Uniform Fire Safety Act, enacted by our State, requires that

when a building is retrofitted or changes use, the stricter standards apply.

Penalties can be very high. Our goal is to keep our buildings safe, and so our

first goal is to correct the problem. However, penalties can be as much as

$5,000 per day, per violation.

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Under our codes, fire officials have the authority to close buildings

where there is an imminent hazard or where the owner has willfully or grossly

been negligent in his failure to comply with our regulations. In our State, local

code enforcement requires building owners to document that products that they

put on walls complies with the flame-spread requirements of the codes for

interior finishes.

The codes we have in place require that the main entrance be

capable of serving as an exit for at least half of the total occupants in the

buildings. And our codes limit the occupancy load for assembly spaces,

including nightclubs, to five square feet per person, even if the exits might

accommodate more. But all of this means nothing unless we have trained

inspectors, and we do. We have more than 2,000 licensed, trained fire

inspectors at both the State and local level, and 3,000 licensed and trained

building inspectors. Theyíre considered experts in fire safety and building safety.

Local code enforcement officials are licensed by the Department of

Community Affairs after demonstrating that they have the necessary education

and expertise, and passing an exam. Once licensed, the inspectors are required

to participate in continuing education courses to maintain their license. The

Uniform Fire Code relies on local officials for enforcement. Our fire code

enforcement is truly a statewide, cooperative effort. Every municipality must

participate in enforcement, unlike some states where enforcement is voluntary.

For any municipality who cannot conduct inspections, the State Division of Fire

Safety will do it for them.

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Knowing that all of these codes and enforcement practices are in

place in New Jersey, let me talk to you for a moment about how our codes

could have prevented the Rhode Island and Chicago tragedies. The building in

Rhode Island was changed from a restaurant to a nightclub. Our codes would

have prevented such a transition from happening without the owner fulfilling the

tougher requirements for a nightclub. The fire in Rhode Island spread in an

extremely rapid rate, trapping many of the patrons, tragically, inside the club.

This suggests that the materials used on the walls and the ceiling surrounding the

stage were highly combustible. Itís been reported that the stage area had glued

on it a material known as egg-crate foam. This is a packing material. It is not

meant to be a finish on a wall.

Our construction and our fire codes regulate the flame-spread rating

of interior finishes. The local code enforcement official would have required the

building owner to document that the product he put on the wall complied with

our flame-spread requirements for interior finishes.

As the fire spread through that Rhode Island club, many of the

patrons tried to exit through the door they entered. Itís normal, human

behavior. Part of the problem in clubs where the exits are not clearly marked or

there are not enough exits is, you have the panic as people leave.

The codes that we have in place require that the main entrance or

exit be large enough so that at least half of the total occupant load can leave

through that doorway. Our codes limit the number of people that can be in a

building, and inspectors routinely check. And responsible nightclub owners

routinely are vigilant about the number of people that they allow in.

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The situation in Chicago underscores the need for effective

enforcement. Itís reported that there was some kind of order to shut down the

club because of egress deficiencies. Had that order been enforced, the end of the

story would have been very different. I believe that when we look at New

Jerseyís inspection and licensing requirements, our mandatory periodic

inspections, our strict code enforcement and fines, we have had a strong system

in place to help prevent tragedies from occurring in our State. However, we

must do even more to make sure that the code is followed, especially with regard

to the installation of unapproved combustible sound-proofing finishes or

furnishings, the use of pyrotechnics and overcrowding.

So what have we done? Governor McGreevey called upon the

Department and the Division of Fire Safety to oversee the immediate inspection

of New Jerseyís approximately 1,500 nightclubs and related venues. We have

been working cooperatively with fire inspectors on the local level. The

Department itself has responsibility to inspect in, approximately, 100 towns, but

we have also been providing assistance, where needed, on the local level. We

contacted all of our fire officials, calling upon them to assist in these spot

inspections, and a copy of the letter we sent is in your packet. We also notified

all of the registered, licensed nightclubs to remind them of their responsibility

to follow the building and fire codes, because the best protection is from the

owner or manager of the property on site.

Our inspections are focusing on the interior finishes; on the

sound-proofing materials; on overcrowding; on exits, which must be

well-marked, well-lit, unlocked, and assessable. I want to just note that these

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are spot inspections. They are not meant to be a complete and comprehensive

inspection, which will take place in the normal course.

To give you some sense of the 59 inspections that our Department

conducted this past weekend, 40 establishments passed. Clearly, there is

overwhelming compliance with our fire and building codes. Nineteen were

issued citations, including violations for locked exit doors, missing ceiling tiles,

unlit exit signs, overcrowding, and improper use of extension cords. Our

inspectors make sure that the violations are corrected immediately, and the club

owners have been very cooperative.

At a place called Legends Resort in McAfee, the inspectors were

required to take down combustible fish netting that lined the walls and ceiling

as decorations. At Paulís Tavern in South Belmar, an exit door was covered

with egg-crate foam -- thatís this (indicating foam) -- that was tested by

inspectors and found to be inflammable (sic). One of the walls had this covering

on it (indicating material), also tested and determined to be flammable. Fire

inspectors also shut down the Caribbean Bar and Grill in Trenton and the

Pattenburg House in Union Township because of overcrowding. If the club is

overcrowded, inspectors will shut them down.

We rely, though, too, on the owners and managers of these

establishments, most of whom are responsible business owners who care very

much about the safety of their patrons.

One of the things that we have prepared and will be sending to club

owners is a, sort of, simple list of doís and doníts as to how to keep your

premises safe. That way they can give it to their staff and -- so that all of the

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staff members are aware and pay attention when exit sign lights are out or when

hallways are blocked or doors are blocked.

Many have asked about the use of pyrotechnics in New Jersey. Our

code requires that all pyrotechnics receive prior approval from the local or State

fire official -- that they test the pyrotechnics in advance; that they comply with

manufacturers specifications; that the owner or operator of the club

demonstrates to the fire official that he or she knows how to use the

pyrotechnics; and that they be discharged in a way thatís safe. We are ensuring

that if a club or its entertainment uses pyrotechnics they receive the proper

permits in advance.

We know that we have a good system in place, but we also know

that we can always do better. I would like to share with you several changes

that we are considering. We are in the process of creating an electronic reporting

system that will monitor and evaluate the activities of local enforcement

agencies to ensure that required inspections are being performed. The system,

now, is that they submit a paper report of their quarterly inspections. We are

putting this on an electronic database, so that we will be able to easily and

quickly see that inspections are completed. Weíll be able to better manage the

data, more easily identify repeat offenders, and ensure that inspections are

happening in the correct time frame.

Second, I have asked Larry Petrillo, as our Director of the Division

of Fire Safety, and Bill Connolly, the Director of Division of Codes and

Standards, to review all of New Jerseyís fire safety requirements, under both the

building codes and fire codes, to make recommendations as to how these codes

can be improved.

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Several things that we are considering: Weíre reviewing the current

requirements for the use of sprinklers in retrofitted buildings. Sprinklers are

required in most nightclubs in New Jersey depending on their size, depending on

the location of their stages and platforms. But there are cases where, under our

current codes, sprinklers are not required.

In Rhode Island, no sprinklers were required because the capacity

of the club was 300 people or less. We need to take a careful look at these

sprinkler requirements to determine what changes should be made to ensure

safety. Weíre also recommending that all certificates and inspections --

certificates that tell us that a club is legal, that it has been inspected, that the

owner is in compliance -- those certificates need to be posted in a prominent

place. But if you think about it, weíve seen these certificates. Theyíre white,

with black lettering, small -- oftentimes you donít even know where they are.

We are recommending that the certificates be printed in a bright color, very

prominently displayed, so that as a patron goes into a club, he or she is aware

as to whether or not that club has been inspected and is in compliance.

Finally, we are looking at regulations that might apply to

furnishings within clubs. Currently, furnishings are not regulated. They do not

have any fire-resistant standards for the furnishings, and we are looking to

determine what action, if any, we should take.

Let me just close by saying, we all recognize that the tragedies in

Rhode Island and Chicago could have been prevented. And in New Jersey, at

the local level, at the State level, we have worked hard and together, as fire

officials, as building officials, to ensure the safety of our communities. We

know we must enforce our building codes and fire codes vigorously, and officials

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across the State will continue to do so. We call upon club owners to be careful

and vigilant in protecting their patrons, and most of them do.

And New Jersey citizens should be mindful of the potential dangers.

Look for a certificate of registration, know where the exits are located, and make

sure that the pathways out are clear and not blocked. Our Department will

review the codes to make sure that we do everything possible to keep our

citizens safe. That is our responsibility, and we will fulfill it.

Thank you very much.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very, very much,

Commissioner Levin.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I have questions.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: You have questions.

Assemblyman Cryan.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Thanks, Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Sure.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I have the feeling most of my questions

are probably going to be directed to Larry Petrillo.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Okay.

Larry, why donít you join us up here.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Let me begin with the five-square-foot

rule, Larry, and a patron -- in a nightclub, if I understood it correctly. Why is

it five square feet? I always thought it was three.

Or did I get the wrong guy? Sorry.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: I think that might be yours.

W I L L I A M M. C O N N O L L Y: Yes.

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ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: It sounds awful high.

MR. CONNOLLY: The building code--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Why donít you have a seat. And

identify yourself, please, for the record.

MR. CONNOLLY: Historically, the building code regulations--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Excuse me, could you identify yourself

for the record?

MR. CONNOLLY: Iím sorry. Iím sorry.

Iím Bill Connolly. Iím the Director of Codes and Standards.

Historically, our building codes of regulated occupancy are based

on whether people are standing or sitting, or whether there are fixed seats or not.

The standing rule is three square feet. When we wrote the fire code, we were

very concerned that that, particularly in a nightclub setting, could allow

altogether too many people, even if there were sufficient exits. And thatís why

the fire code includes this higher, more restrictive standard for nightclubs, which

is five square feet per person.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: And how long has that standard been

in place?

MR. CONNOLLY: 1986.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: So itís been five square feet.

So, can you explain to me, for those facilities that have both tables

and chairs and the standing area for dancing or bands, the table and chair area

is not-- How is the occupancy derived?

MR. CONNOLLY: In the table and chair area, you do two things:

You count the number of chairs and tables and then you use 15 square feet per

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person, and whichever gives you the more restrictive is what counts. Where

youíve got seating thatís fixed, anchored to the floor, obviously, you just count

the seats. Where you have areas where people can stand, you do three square

feet per person. But if the sum of that is more than five square feet, you work

with the five.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Let me ask you one other question on

numbers that just came up in the Commissionersís insightful information.

Three hundred people for a sprinkler. Why is that?

MR. CONNOLLY: The reason -- and if you watch 60 Minutes, you

know that some alleged experts donít know, but there is a reason. Our codes are

a combination of measures. Basically, we regulate the size of exits, the distance

to exits, the fire-resistive nature of the building. As the Commissioner

mentioned, the flame-spread rating of the finishes. The combination of all of

those provisions, if theyíre all complied with, will ensure that the fire can never

grow so fast that those 300 people canít get out.

Now, what happened in Rhode Island, obviously, is, a very critical

one of those provisions wasnít complied with. Now the reason, the

Commissioner indicated, weíre looking at fire suppression systems, even in

smaller buildings than the 300, is that they make up for a multitude of errors.

You can make a lot of stupid mistakes in a building, and the sprinklers will

recover you from all those stupid mistakes. But there probably is a threshold

somewhere, because the smaller the building gets, the more expensive the system

gets in terms of the square footage or the number of occupants or the cash flow

of the business. Because there are certain fixed sum costs, like the fire

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department connection, the pump, and things like that that are there, no matter

how small the building is. So the cost of a sprinkler system in a big building--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Sprinklers are expensive, arenít they?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Yes.

MR. CONNOLLY: Theyíre very affordable in big buildings. They

can be rather expensive in small buildings.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Just let me urge, somewhat

patronizingly, though, but I am in, I do -- Iím in the restaurant business. Letís,

for once, recognize that this is an industry that, first off, hasnít done anything

wrong in New Jersey. Iím concerned -- and I do want to follow up on this

overcrowding idea -- that weíre not just going to come in and crucify people for

being in business.

But secondly, could we, at least for once, for a group that we audit,

overregulate, raise taxes, and do everything we can possibly do to make them be

guilty of everything in the free world, that we can possibly, for once at least,

recognize that sprinklers are an expensive cost and these folks follow the law for

the most part. So if we can, at least as a caution here -- I want to go on record

as saying that, because itís one of the things--

As soon as I read about that fire, I knew that we, in the State of

New Jersey, weíd go in and recheck businesses, which was fine by me. And

pyrotechnics, to me, we should just outlaw the things. But irregardless of that,

I just want to urge you, now, to have some caution and some relief for business

owners. Sometimes we forget that thatís, in fact -- these are small businesses for

a lot of people, and a lifeís investment.

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COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Assemblyman, yes. Let me just

say that, I want to re-emphasize, of the 59 establishments that we checked, 40

of them were in total compliance. Of the other--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: But you didnít bring a list of those, did

you?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: I do have a list. I can certainly

provide a list.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: But you didnít bring it with you? You

brought the guilty ones, right?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: I think we do have the list of

everyone.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I know. The guilty ones are the ones

weíve heard about, is my point.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Well, the guilty ones are the

ones that put peoplesí lives at risk. And thatís--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Absolutely. And I was in Paulís last

week. So, believe me, I understand. I was at the Belmar Parade. So Iím

grateful for all your efforts, but itís just that we highlight the bad and not the

good sometimes, that is my message.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Right.

And let me just say, Assemblyman, that really what we want to

highlight is an education process, that everyone -- patrons, club owners, fire

officials -- understand how we can best protect our residents. And that is truly

our goal.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I agree with you.

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COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: And just on enforcement, please

understand that, as you probably know, our code requires that we get the

problem corrected. Our goal is that, to get the problem corrected.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I have three other questions, and then

I--

MR. CONNOLLY: Just one thing on sprinkler costs, though,

because I think itís important. People tend to misunderstand their relative cost.

The cost of a sprinkler system in a new building--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Itís management.

MR. CONNOLLY: --is the difference between cheap carpet and

good carpet, literally.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: And what does our code call for?

MR. CONNOLLY: In other words, if you took out the good carpet

and put in cheap carpet, you would have paid for the sprinkler system. Itís not

that expensive.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: But what is our code-- Our code calls

for, when you retrofit and the capacity is over 300, or if itís new construction.

Is that correct?

MR. CONNOLLY: Thatís correct.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I just have a couple quick other things.

One is on fire inspections. You talked about, which interested me a great deal,

is the electronic data potential for the future. Because if I understand it, today,

when the guy comes in, he basically isnít looking at the last set of reports for

someone who failed, or anything like that. You could have changed inspectors.

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Thereís no continuity in that program, is there? I donít mean it as a shot, but

as a general rule.

L A W R E N C E P E T R I L L O: Iím Lawrence Petrillo, the Director of the

Division of Fire Safety.

Generally, what an inspector should do, and I believe what they do

do -- I know our inspectors, our State inspectors, do that. Theyíll review the

establishmentís past inspection records and go in and conduct a new inspection

to, obviously, see if that compliance was conducted. So they, generally, will

take a look at--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Theyíll manually go back and check?

MR. PETRILLO: Yes. For example, weíre responsible for about

100 municipalities in the State. The other municipalities are conducted by the

local officials. They will, generally, pull their files, look at what they have had

in the past, and then go out and do the inspection. Our inspectors will pull a

packet before they go out and do their inspections.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Do inspectors highlight, as a general

practice? Iím lucky enough to say I havenít had repeated violations, thank

God. But if you do have them, I mean, how is that connotated to the owner?

Is it brought up-- Is it listed as part of the inspection process?

MR. PETRILLO: They receive a copy of our inspection findings

that list the violation and the site in the regs. So before that inspector leaves,

the owner will have that information.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: And heís aware of the fact that this, for

example, this exit light has been out two, three, four times or things like that?

Itís repeated for him.

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MR. PETRILLO: If itís repeated, theyíll -- on a random inspection,

theyíll, again, recite that.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: If I could just clarify something.

If the inspector finds a violation, he notifies the owner of that

violation, and he does a reinspection to make sure that particular violation is

corrected. In addition, there is then a quarterly inspection for buildings over a

certain size. But the inspectors are supposed to go back and make sure that that

violation has been corrected.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I understand that.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: But to get to your point, which

is a very good one, weíre depending on inspectors to have a file and to have

papers and all of those things. And theyíre probably, like everything else -- some

do a better job. By putting it on an electronic system, we will have a much

better way of checking ourselves and making sure that the owners are aware.

Because they might not be aware of violations that are given that a club

manager takes. So to go to your point, Assemblyman, the electronic system will,

absolutely, improve our ability to enforce and, I think, our ability to educate

and inform.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Okay.

The furnishings: You want to fireproof furnishings?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: No, I didnít say that we wanted

to do that. I just said we need to look at that issue--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: --and I want to make that clear.

Itís an issue that I think we should just examine internally, to determine what

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our code looks like, as compared to other states. I just think we need to look

at it before we even make any recommendation. I want to make that absolutely

clear.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Does every municipality have a fire

inspector?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Either that or we inspect for

them, the Department.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: How many municipalities do you

support?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: We inspect for 100

municipalities.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: A hundred.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Well, approximately. It might

be a little -- 97, 98. And in this particular effort, we are providing support to

whatever municipalities might need our help, so that we can get these spot

inspections done quickly.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: All right.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Thank you very much.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Assemblywoman Cruz-Perez.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Iím not sure if the

Assemblyman had addressed this issue. I commend the Department, because

I think what weíre doing in New Jersey is more than many other states are

doing, and Iím glad to hear that. I thank the Commissioner for coming this

morning and inform us. But how are you going to prevent overcrowding clubs?

21

Are we going to have enough inspectors to go on a weekend basis, to make sure

that we donít have overcrowded buildings? I mean, what is it going to take, is

that -- you have 100 municipalities, but, I mean, how is that going to work?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Well, the best enforcement is

when the responsible club owners -- and let me emphasize, most of the club

owners are responsible -- they recognize that the club can only hold a certain

number of people, and when they reach that limit, they turn them away. And

in most instances, thatís what happens. I think thatís important to know.

However, when a club exceeds that limit is when people are put at risk.

And as Bill Connolly said, it is the combination of factors that can

result in a tragedy. Fire inspectors and police, in many of our towns and cities

across New Jersey, routinely check nightclubs in the evening. That is part of

what they do. We canít be everywhere all the time. I understand that. And so

we are depending on the business owners to do their job. And, yes, you know

what? Patrons have a responsibility, too. When a club is too crowded, you

should leave. And we should tell our children to pay attention to these things.

I understand. I have daughters myself.

But I do think itís important that we talk about this, because

everyone has a responsibility. You need to look for the lit signs. You need to

make sure that the passageways arenít blocked. Just as when you sit in an

airplane and they say, "Hereís where the emergency exits are." Itís simple rules

of safety.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Thanks.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Can I just ask one other question.

22

When this fire hit -- and I sat down with legislative staff-- Outside

of creating a law -- and youíve taken some very proactive actions -- let me just

ask you the question that I pondered to the Assembly staff, and maybe you can

just give us your thoughts. Without going through legislation, all right --

because this idea that we legislate everything sometimes concerns me. When I

go in a movie theater, they tell you-- You know, you get your popcorn and you

sit down, they say the exits are here and here. Yet, Iíve had -- my place is

probably overcrowded on St. Patrickís Day. I probably wouldnít argue that

point. But, realistically, when you start a show or something, what

commonsense approach can an owner take -- a guy that cares--

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Right.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: --without mandating all sorts of

requirements. I was thinking, do you stand up and say, "Okay, everybody,

thanks for coming," and, "Hereís where our exits are." Do you have any

commonsense approaches here that we could talk about?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Yes. And, in fact, these doís and

doníts, which are really commonsense approaches, which weíre sending out to

nightclub owners, one of them says, "Announce prior to and periodically during

performances the locations of all exits." Youíre right. Not everyone is going to

listen all the time. But to the extent that you make it safer, you can help change

the outcome. That is what a club owner can do.

As I say, just as in an airplane or in a movie theater, another very

good example, point out where the exits are. And you can say that at the

beginning of a performance, you can say it in the middle of a performance,

during a break, and that will absolutely help.

23

Youíre right. We donít need to overlegislate. We all need to take

responsibility.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Commissioner, weíre fortunate today

that we have two perspectives on this Committee -- an owner of one of these

venues and patrons. Iím a patron. I donít own one of these places. You said

that our purpose today is to educate, and Iíve been to the Cryan family

establishments. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: And he paid. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: The purpose here is to educate, etc.

The overriding purpose, of course, is to save lives. The overriding responsibility

that we have is to see to it that our citizens are safe. And then, if we can

anticipate those kinds of hazards that may exist, then perhaps this hearing will

enable us to take care of some of those situations.

As I said in my opening statement, one life is too many to lose in

situations like this. I had made a note that during the course of an evening, that

an owner, or what have you, might very well remind patrons that these are the

places that exist here. My concern is this: That we have now a lot of attention

in this area. Are you certain that your inspectors do not look the other way?

In other words, again, anecdotal evidence tells me that from time to time there

are violations, obvious violations, in some of these places. My goodness, you

can go into some of them and see cartons, etc., stacked in front of the exit place.

Iím sure that these are places that are frequented by, maybe even,

by inspectors or by others, and Iím concerned that there may be some few

instances where inspectors may look the other way. What can we do to ensure

24

against that, because all we need is one situation where an inspection --

somebody looks the other way. All right.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Let me say that, just as with

club owners, the inspectors have a significant responsibility here. Our inspectors

are very well trained. They have to go for continuing education, and I think our

training is at the highest level in terms of how other states operate. We, through

the Division of Fire Safety, also provide ongoing assistance to local inspectors.

So we are certainly part of that team. One of the reasons that we sent letters,

now, to our fire inspectors is just to remind them of their obligations, and make

sure that they are doing the spot checks and looking for the types of things that,

yes, they should find in their routine inspections. But if they havenít, we should

all learn from it.

We are able to provide resources. We are able to provide ongoing

training. We, as part of the fire service community, certainly have ongoing

meetings, conferences, and workshops to make sure that our inspectors know

what they need to do. All I can say to you is this: We certainly want to make

sure that our codes are vigorously enforced. That is the way to protect lives.

The men and women who are in this business, who are fire safety inspectors, do

it because they are committed to protecting our communities. We certainly urge

them to enforce vigorously, with always an eye to getting the problem corrected.

This isnít about punishment. It is about correction.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Have you ever had any examples or any

enforcement teams that may not have been enforcing? In other words, have

there ever been any people in this area who may have been, in fact, not carrying

out their responsibilities for one reason or the other? I mean, Iím sure that this

25

business in Chicago -- probably it was quite obvious that there was some

violations there that might have saved a couple -- 21 peopleís lives. I donít

know whether or not we have, maybe, one or -- there might be one bad apple

in all of the municipalities that youíre checking with. Have we ever had any

examples? And if we do, what do we do about ensuring that we donít have a

club thatís open that has a chain on the door?

MR. CONNOLLY: The most important thing, in terms of

inspectors, is we just donít issue licenses. We take them away. Both the

Division of Fire Safety and the Division of Codes and Standards have ongoing

monitoring efforts. And when they find deficiencies, they take whatever

corrective action is warranted, depending on how severe the violation is on the

part of the inspector. But that ranges up to them losing their job. Every year in

New Jersey, inspectors lose their job, because they werenít doing it well enough.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

Just one last thing. And that is that youíve mentioned that, out of

59 inspections over the weekend, 40 were fine. Nineteen, however, there were

violations -- probably could have been life-threatening violations. I donít know.

And so, if thereís just one of these-- What kinds, very briefly, of violations did

you find within your inspections?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Most of the violations were

minor in the sense that exit sign lights were out, two were overcrowding, and we

closed the place down. There were some instances where there were exits

blocked. As I mentioned, one of the clubs had flammable materials on it. In

all of these instances, the violation was corrected immediately. Our fire

inspectors donít leave until they can get the problem corrected.

26

And let me just emphasize, again, that in these instances the owners

were cooperative. They have an interest in making sure that their patrons are

safe. Let me just add, also, that as we take a look at our fire codes, as we take

a look at our building codes, issues of sprinklers and retrofitting, we certainly

will be working with the restaurant associations and other associations that deal

with this every day. That is what our Department does when we work on the

amusement ride regulations or anything like that. We make sure that we involve

people who are very much affected by it. You have our assurance that we would

do that here as well.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Yes. I was trying to find out what

association represents nightclubs and other places. I know thereís a restaurant

association for restaurants, etc., but what-- Is there an association that you guys

work with, with the owners of these entertainment venues?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Thereís a License Beverage

Association. And, of course, many nightclubs are, also, in the restaurant

ownersí association, so thereís certainly a crossover there.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Assemblywoman Cruz-Perez.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Yes. I have a question for

the Commissioner. You said you closed down two overcrowded clubs. What

happened after you closed them down? Would you allow them to open again?

What would be the procedure after you close a club?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: It differs, depending on the

situation, how overcrowded it is, what time it is. And frankly, it differs

depending on the local municipality. Sometimes they close it down, and they

donít let them open. Sometimes they close it down, and they have everyone go

27

out and bring people back in, which often causes more chaos than anything else.

As I said, a lot depends on what time of night it is. Thereís probably, also, a

different approach, depending on how frequent this problem is at the particular

club.

So this is something that is within the discretion of the fire official

who is on the scene, or sometimes itís police officers who are on the scene, to

make the decision.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: So you close a club

temporarily for that night, until the overcrowding problem goes away. I believe

that club will get penalties or a fine--

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Usually, on the first violation,

they donít get a fine. If there is a repeat violation, thatís when fines start to kick

in.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Can I--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: We--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I know we have to move on, but I just

want to-- By the way, Iím sure those two owners were less than cooperative for

having a big night and then closed down. Maybe they were happy outside, but

hard to believe.

Anyway, we focused a lot in this testimony on nightclubs. I guess

my last question to you is, are there other areas or other businesses that we

should be talking about or focused on, as well as the nightclub issue?

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Our review of the fire codes will

look at many different types of establishments. Youíre right. We focused today

on nightclubs because of the tragedy, but we will be taking a look at our fire

28

codes to determine whether or not any revisions are needed for other industries.

Subsequent to 1984, the fire at Great Adventure, we changed our

codes to -- as they apply to special amusement buildings. Unfortunately, too

often, changes occur only after a tragedy. We need to be proactive and take a

comprehensive look at our codes. And perhaps we wonít need to make any

changes, perhaps we will. But weíre going to look at this as professionals

working with the industry, working with the communities, to determine what,

if anything, we can do to make our communities safer and better.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much, Commissioner.

Patrick Aramini and Richard Ryan, from the New Jersey Sports and

Expo Authority.

As theyíre coming, you noticed in the notice that we sent out that

we indicated that we were talking about more than just nightclubs and

restaurants. Weíre looking at other venues as well. So, Commissioner, I donít

know whether your responsibility is in the area of these other venues that we

talked about, but we want to make sure that weíre talking beyond that and not

just highlighting nightclubs or taverns or etc.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: And let me just say that staff

from our Department will be staying here to hear the rest of the testimony. So

that, if that any other issues come up, theyíll be able to help or, at least, bring

it back, if we need to do more.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER BASS LEVIN: Thank you.

29

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Gentlemen, you can start when youíre

ready. Identify yourself for the record, please. Thank you.

R I C H A R D R Y A N: Richard Ryan. Iím Assistant Vice President. I

oversee security at Continental Airlines Arena in Giant Stadium, which is part

of the Meadowland Sports Complex, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

P A T R I C K C. A R A M I N I: Patrick Aramini, Assistant Vice President

of Security at the Meadowland Sports Complex.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you.

Go ahead.

MR. RYAN: Iíd like to thank you for inviting us here today. We

came prepared not knowing what the majority of the focus was going to be

today -- about fire safety. So we came prepared to talk about overall security.

However, since sitting here, itís obvious what weíre talking about. Weíve made

some notes.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Excuse me, before you go any further.

MR. RYAN: Yes, sir.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: I want you and everybody else to

understand, as Iíve said a couple of times, that this is not simply about fire

safety, etc. Weíre talking about, as a matter of fact -- one of the incidents in

Chicago was not on fire at all, but was because of the panic and stampede that

occurred.

MR. RYAN: Yes, sir.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: So weíre talking beyond that. And

also, weíd like to talk about whether or not people who are responsible for

30

security in these venues are trained on how to respond to these kinds of things,

which lead to the tragedy in Chicago.

MR. ARAMINI: Well, weíre prepared to do that. In fact, weíre

prepared to discuss how proactive weíve been since post 9/11 at Giant Stadium

and Continental Arena, and what security measures we have taken.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Very good.

MR. RYAN: But we will try to direct what youíre interested in

today. Just for your information, we have a lot of State inspections down in the

Meadowlands. Weíre a State facility. In fact, our main inspector is here today.

Mr. Lazarus is sitting behind us, and I almost feel heís part of our full-time staff,

I see him so much.

In place at the Meadowlands, we have evacuation plans in the

event of any type of an emergency. We have a mass casualty plan in the event

of a mass casualty incident, such as a 9/11 kind of thing, which we actually put

in place on 9/11 as a staging area for the 9/11 disaster. Our staff at the

Meadowlands -- weíre fortunate. We have a detachment of New Jersey State

Troopers who are assigned there on a full-time basis. And our event staff, who

are our security guards, work both the stadium and the arena, which, if there

was going to be a disaster of this type, would probably occur in one of those

buildings, more so the arena. They work over 250 events a year, and theyíre

part-time. Many of those part-time staff people are, in fact, firemen in their

local municipalities.

We also have a full-time fire department at the Meadowlands; 13

full-time firemen on duty, on site. They work 24-hour shifts, around the clock.

In fact, our fire chief is a full-time fireman in the city of Newark, Mr. Sal

31

Fischetta, and theyíre all State certified as fire inspectors along with Josh, who

also comes from the State Department. On all major events, whether itís in the

arena or the stadium, we utilize the New Jersey State Police Arson Explosives

Unit. They are trained arson investigators, and they come with the Canine Unit,

who have dogs who are trained to sniff for explosive devices. As a part of their

duties there, especially during concerts, which is when we usually use pyro, the

dogs do check the stage area or any area that pyro is going to be set off. I can

assure you they work. They sit down every time they go near it.

But itís good as a backup system because, if a group did come in

and try to tell us that they werenít going to have pyro, those dogs are still in that

area where any pyro would be set off, and theyíll respond to it. So weíll realize

that someone did come in here and is trying to set pyro off without notifying us.

Thatís never happened that Iím aware of.

Besides the dogs, Josh is there. He comes before every event, checks

the setup, gets the permits. We have all the permits in place. And when the

show takes place, we actually have, at least, three of our full-time firemen on

duty, stationed in the stage area, ready to respond to any unforseen accident or

anything.

We, also, do -- during the course of the year in both the stadium,

arena, and the racetrack -- evacuation drills, what we call event drills and

non-event drills, to train our people in the evacuation of the buildings, whether

itís a fire scene, or an explosive device has been found, or whatever. We

actually train them along with the State Police.

Before every major event in the arena, which are basically the New

Jersey Devils and New Jersey Nets, we do a walk-around, prior to the opening

32

of the building, with people from the franchises. And believe me, that is a

thorough walk-around, from checking to see if every toilet works, that every

lightbulb is working, and to see if those fire exit signs are lit, and things of that

nature. Because theyíre, also, as concerned about safety as the Sports Authority

people are.

We do a bomb sweep before every event. Itís conducted by our

event staff personnel. However, all the key areas are checked by the State Police

Bomb Squad with their canines. To check an entire building with a dog prior

to an event would take hours and hours, and we just donít have that time. So

the event staff people are trained. Theyíve been trained by the State Police

Bomb Squad, and they know what theyíre looking for, and things of that nature.

If they find anything suspicious, obviously, the State Police are contacted

immediately, and theyíll check what the item is.

One of your concerns is overcrowding. All events at the stadium

arena are all ticketed events. We have a capacity in the arena to hold up to

20,000 people for basketball games. Probably the most we do for a concert in

the arena is usually between 15,000 and 16,000, for safety reasons -- as well as

the fact that what we call the backstage area is not sold to the public, unless the

stage is in what we call the round, which would be on the floor in the center of

the arena -- then we could possibly sell 20,000. A type of concert that would

be in the round would be when we used to have Frank Sinatra there. Itís not the

kind of concert that weíll probably be setting off pyro at. Itís a more laid-back

concert.

And Springsteen, obviously, is not in the round. Heís on one end,

and weíll do, like, 15,000 to 16,000. In fact, we have nine Springsteen shows

33

scheduled, right now, for the stadium this summer, and the tickets sales have

been capped at 55,000 for each show. The stadium holds 80,000 for football.

So we are limiting the amount of people.

No, and I canít help you get tickets. (laughter) I saw you

whispering already up there, Gabriela. That was her first question.

Call George Zoffinger. Heís in charge of tickets.

We also have, in the buildings, evacuation tapes. We play entrance

tapes prior, as youíre walking in, listening to some of our policies. And God

forbid something does happen where we have to evacuate the building, we have

pre-prepared tapes to play within the building and outside the building in both

English and Spanish. We went to the Spanish tapes because we do the soccer

in the stadium, and itís such a Hispanic patron-oriented event. So weíve made

tapes up in both languages, and theyíll play. They just repeat, over and over

again, the rules and regulations, what to do to get out of the building.

Pat, do you have anything?

MR. ARAMINI: Other than that, we do routine fire inspections of

all three facilities -- the Meadowlands Racetrack, the arena, and the stadium --

on a daily basis. Sometimes itís with our State inspectors. Our fire department

maintains and inspects all fire extinguishers, standpipes, and hoses in all three

facilities. As Mr. Ryan stated, they are state certified. We send them back to

school, to a fire academy, to be State certified. And all exits are inspected to

make sure theyíre operational and that theyíre not locked.

During an event, all gates coming in and out of the arena-- The

doors are locked for people to come in, but all gates have a push door. All open

up out to the public. Thereís no smoking allowed in the arena. At the stadium,

34

the only place you could smoke is in the spiral. And, obviously, the stadium

itself if 90 percent concrete and steel. So weíre pretty well prepared as far as

that goes.

As far as the pyro, as Mr. Ryan stated, we do inspect it. They do

stand by the inspectors all night when the pyro does go off. Itís not like in one

of these nightclubs. Our State inspectors do stand by with our fire department.

And if, in fact -- and Iíve known of one occasion where they have stopped the

pyro because they didnít feel it was proper. The State inspector has a lot of

authority for that type of operation, and we do enforce it.

MR. RYAN: If youíre looking for any recommendations -- just the

little bit Iíve learned here in the last hour -- obviously, I think, your concern is,

maybe, more towards the nightclub-type of activity. I would be concerned that

-- maybe there is a way they could get the evacuation tape that they could play

in these buildings. They have to have a sound system for the band or

something. Maybe there is some kind of tapes they could have set to help

evacuate people. And, also, check their staffing levels. Do they have any

security people even working, when you might have 300, 400, 500 people in

some of these nightclubs -- and one or two security guards, which, obviously, is

not adequate? Iím not, again, asking to have some kind of legislation

introduced, but it might be a doís and doníts or a recommendation sheet, like,

apparently, theyíve already made up. And maybe then you might want to

consider putting something like that into it.

MR. ARAMINI: Obviously, one of the problems that happens is

that everybody comes in the same entrance, and thatís why people always go

out the same exit. I donít know if itís available to other places to have more

35

than one entrance, obviously, to alleviate that, because itís human nature. We

donít have that problem at the stadium and the arena, because we have, at least,

six or eight different entrances and exits. But in the smaller places where people

-- human nature -- going into one individual entrance, thatís where they all go

for when theyíre ready to leave, regardless of what other signs say, "Exit."

MR. RYAN: And thatís so true. They will. "I came in Gate A, I

want to go out Gate A. Thatís where my car is," or whatever. They donít

realize they can go out Gate B and just walk along in the parking lot. Itís hard

to train people. There will be an emergency, and I can see people come up, "But

I came in Gate A, I canít go out Gate A." No, youíre going out this gate.

MR. ARAMINI: In addition, what we did after September--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: What happens a lot of times when

people go out the other gate at Giant Stadium, they walk around there for hours

trying to find their car.

MR. RYAN: Yes, sir.

MR. ARAMINI: Right.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: I mean, Iíve lost my car for a couple

of hours. (laughter)

MR. RYAN: Assemblyman, I can tell you, at the end of every

Giant and Jet game, we have at least five to seven, eight, 10 people come into

our security office to report their car stolen. (laughter) The five to seven to 10

people we put in a van and ride them around and we find them. The cars are

not-- And theyíre convinced that somebody towed their car, and it wasnít

towed.

36

MR. ARAMINI: What we did after September 11 is, we had an

outside firm come in, and we had a total threat assessment done -- for safety,

security, including fire, for all three facilities -- by Buckley Peterson Company.

In addition, the NFL conducted their own threat assessment. And Mr. Ryan

has, for all three venues, a best practices done by the NHL, the NBA, and--

MR. RYAN: The NBA. All the major sporting leagues in the

country have put together a best practices and procedures for their venues. Itís

not something you have to do. Itís strong recommendations.

I sat on the committees of all three leagues to establish this best

practices and procedures, and they are in place at the Meadowlands, I can

assure you. Theyíre in place in almost every facility, Iím sure, across the

country. They have a real concern for safety and security.

In fact, I was on the phone yesterday with the director of security

for the National Hockey League, who had just attended a meeting with the CIA

and FBI, and had new information about threat assessment and things, and he

was passing it along to me. He took it so serious, like rather than e-mail, he was

calling every venue where the hockey teams play in the country to talk to the

person in charge. So, believe me, we are aware, and weíre, hopefully, on top of

things there.

MR. ARAMINI: What weíve done also, and weíve handed out a

handout, which was actually from a PowerPoint, which shows you what we do

at Giant Stadium after September 11, if you would like to go through it. If you

want it, we have a short video, also.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: How short is it?

MR. ARAMINI: About five minutes.

37

MR. RYAN: I believe itís -- the NFL came and videotaped our

operation and Cleveland Stadium, football stadium, just for security reasons

and showing different things, whether youíre interested. Itís not really

fire-oriented.

MR. ARAMINI: But, basically, what you see on this handout

would be sufficient. The other thing is, we prohibit bottles and cans from

coming into the venues. Itís not just -- obviously, originally, it was for

projectiles, so people canít throw things at the players. But the reason we take

the bottles and cans-- In fact, we have an alert now for even -- this may sound

-- lightbulbs or somebody carrying a fire extinguisher, because they can carry

flammable liquids in there or some type of chemical agent, besides. So we ban

all of those items. Peopleís packages are checked as they come in. They have

to surrender those items.

What we did, as part of our threat assessment, we also have the FBI

assigned to us at the stadium for all large events, and we get a threat assessment

before every NFL football game and soccer game. And we will for all the

concerts that are coming up.

MR. RYAN: Talking fire safety, we brought some items along that

we confiscate at our gates. Hereís a cigarette lighter -- however, itís a

switchblade. These are the kind of things people are carrying into our venues.

Weíre discovering these at the gates. A common writing pen in your pocket, pull

it apart. Itís a shiv. Itís a small knife. Something like you would find in a

prison. Itís kind of scary. Actually, we got this from the Newark school

systems. One of our guards is a school teacher in Newark, and they put a notice

out to their school teachers to be alert for the kids with these things. Within a

38

week, we were getting these things at the arena. We saw a pen, you never

checked it. Now we check pens.

Weíll get comments, "Why are you checking all these things? Why

canít I bring it in?" If you give me a second, Iíd like -- two or three things that

Iíd like to show you that we have gotten at our gates, that you would find

interesting, probably. Binoculars: Youíre allowed to bring binoculars in, but

thereís fake binoculars. Youíre allowed to bring binoculars in, but itís a fake

binocular. It holds alcohol. Why could it not hold a biochem agent? So you

might be coming in and the guard may grab your thing and shake it. If it

swishes, itís full -- usually liquor. So weíd take that away. I have a whole

handful of those.

Why do we not allow thermoses in? Itís cold. Itís December. We

want to bring in hot chocolate. Well, you take the top off of this particular

thermos-- No, nothing is coming out. Take the bottom off-- Excuse me. Take

the bottom off, it holds the anisette for the hot chocolate or the coffee thatís in

the other thermos. Okay. (laughter)

Joe, youíll be selling these probably next week. (laughter)

But also, what else could it contain? I mean, it could contain a

chemical agent.

MR. ARAMINI: Or a flammable liquid.

MR. RYAN: Or a flammable liquid. This is probably one of--

Well, a Pringlesí can. I canít bring in my potato chips -- it holds two cans of

beer. Okay. There are just two other ones I want to show you, if I can find it.

Obviously, we get a lot of flasks; people bringing in a little hooch for the game.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Can I pick it up after I come back out?

39

MR. RYAN: We really donít receipt things. I mean, we can get,

like, 50 of these at a game, possibly--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Is that right?

MR. RYAN: --and itís really tough to receipt. We give you the

opportunity to return it to your vehicle, and usually they donít want to go back

to the vehicle. This is probably one of the most--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Some get through, by the way, every

once in a while.

MR. RYAN: Iím not saying this stuff isnít getting in. Believe me,

we canít do a real serious pat-down like youíre under arrest, because it just

wouldnít work. The lines would be a mile long, and theyíre long already.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: An IV?

MR. RYAN: This thing, how it works, was under a patrons clothing

coming into a concert at the arena. The tube came up underneath the clothing

and came out at the shirt collar, right here. The guard saw this person with this

thing sticking out -- it was a female coming in -- confronted her, brought her

back to our processing area, and we had female guards check her. Itís actually

like an IV bag out of a hospital. She had it full of beer. (laughter) Thatís the

sophistication theyíll go through to bring things into the venue.

Basically, all the other stuff-- We have a lot of different kind of

weapons, and things that weíve confiscated.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Plus their beer.

MR. RYAN: Yes. Itís 6.50 for a beer. She saved 6.50, she thought,

by bringing one beer in.

40

MR. ARAMINI: One of the other things that weíve done since

September 11: No vehicles are permitted under the buildings of the

infrastructure during the event, including the owners of the teams and including

the Governor. No one is permitted to park under the building anymore.

The team buses, themselves, with the team, are searched at the

hotels by State Police, and they actually are wrist-banded, including their

baggage that comes in, to prevent any type of vehicle from getting -- all large

vehicles-- If a truck wanted to come in to do catering in the parking lot, it is

stopped and searched to make sure that thereís nothing close to the facility that

could contain explosives.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: One of the things -- this is, weíre aware

of the heightened efforts since 9/11, etc., etc., and even before that. One of the

major -- for instance, in some of the venues around the world, when you have

soccer games and things like that, youíve had people who were crushed in

stampedes, etc. We donít have that kind of thing or, perhaps, thereís some

training that you guys have for that kind of thing. But weíre concerned,

obviously, about preventing that kind of thing. We havenít had that in any of

our venues that I know about, and I donít know whether or not you have.

Thatís, obviously, been taken into consideration.

For instance, with all doors opening out -- and I meant to ask the

Commissioner before -- that Iíve gone to a number of places where the doors

enter in, and people just always get crammed up behind them. But I guess those

are the kinds of things that you have, and I thank you for it.

MR. RYAN: Weíve hosted the Menís World Cup and the

Womenís World Cup in Giants Stadium, and we are very aware of what youíre

41

talking about -- the crushing of fans. Most of those incidents that occurred at

soccer matches have occurred overseas or in South America. And theyíre at

venues that have open seating, where thereís just wooden benches that you go

in, and thereís no ticketed-- So thereís 50 people sitting where there should be

20 people, probably. And all our major soccer matches are all ticketed seating.

We have what we call crash gates on our perimeter fence line outside the stadium

and arena, which are locked on entry -- and everybody goes through and has

their ticket ripped at a certain point -- but once the event is almost over, within

five to 10 minutes of the end of that event, we swing these big crash gates open

to help the people exit faster out of the buildings.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

In the interest of time, I think we want to move on.

I thank you very much.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Can I just say this one-- What about

the cattle ramps? The cattle ramp at the Meadowlands?

MR. RYAN: The walk-over bridge?

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: The walkover?

MR. ARAMINI: Thereís a new walk-over bridge now.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Right. Iíve been on it. Any fire

concerns there at all, for any reason? I mean, youíre really packed in there.

MR. ARAMINI: No. Thatís a new construction from the last

several years, and itís physically capable of taking a motor vehicle over it, and

itís mostly constructed of concrete and steel. We have CCTV in there. We

have video in there. Weíre monitoring the entire length of that bridge, from

either the Stadium Security Office or the Arena Security Office. Itís a concern --

42

youíre right -- especially if itís a football game, and itís a close game and all

80,000 people stay until the end. Thereís a crush going over that bridge.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Yes. That goes to the Chairmanís

point.

MR. ARAMINI: Yes.

MR. RYAN: We have people assigned to the bridge, security

officers, and we do monitor that closely with the cameras.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: One other quick thing. The only other

area of crowding thatís been in there, that Iíve seen, is in the rest rooms. I

noticed, like, if you go in the in door for the menís room -- like, if itís packed,

if there was a fire, you canít go out the in door, unless-- You donít have a

handle or anything like that. Is that a concern at all? I mean, just sitting here

listening to you.

MR. RYAN: I never gave it a thought, but you just put a lightbulb

off in my head. Iím going to look at that when we go back. Youíre right.

Thatís true.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: You could cut down on the beer sales.

(laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Well, no.

But the idea is that if you get a fire with smoke--

MR. RYAN: At least you can get into the menís room. Some

events, the ladies are lined up outside trying to get in, because--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Iím aware of that, yes.

43

MR. RYAN: We actually do events where we change menís rooms

into ladiesí rooms, just because thereís more of a-- We know this particular

event is going to attract more of a female crowd.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Thanks.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

MR. RYAN: Thank you, sir.

MR. ARAMINI: Thank you.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Iíd like to call on Domenic Santana,

owner of The Stone Pony.

One of the things about the Giants football games is that you have

female women out there -- you have females searching people as they come in,

and I see guys fighting to get into the line where the females are. (laughter)

MR. RYAN: That is very true. And theyíre instructed -- the females

are supposedly only supposed to pat down other females, whereas the males,

obviously, pat down the males. But, unfortunately, many of the people coming

into the games have had a few beers in the parking lot or at Cryanís Restaurant

before they got here, and theyíre all jumping to have that female pat them down,

yes. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

MR. RYAN: Youíre welcome, sir.

D O M E N I C S A N T A N A: Good morning.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Good morning.

MR. SANTANA: Good morning, Mr. Chairman.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Identify yourself for the record, please.

44

MR. SANTANA: Domenic Santana. Iím the owner of The Stone

Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Coming here today after the tragedy -- this really has hit home to

us personally. Our whole staff has been emotionally affected. I, myself, for the

loss that -- and the unknown, and the circumstances that when you run the risk

with lives at stake, there is no dollar value that could replace one life.

We had the band that caused the tragedy over in Rhode Island a

week prior. Just to see those vivid pictures -- those are something that Iíll never

forget, because that could have been us, Chairman. So it really hits home. So,

I mean, weíve looked at it hard, and weíve changed our whole policies around,

as far as our stage managers go. We hold people accountable. We should have

been able to have detected that, going on our stage. So we are ultimately

responsible, and just thank God that it wasnít us. I think in a situation like

that, first and foremost, we do have a sprinkler system. And thatís one of the

things that we do check on periodically. We do have different systems in place.

We do hire paramedics and off-duty fire volunteers. So weíve gone through a

whole process.

In 29 years of business, that place has a stellar reputation around

the world. And just one incident, thatís all it takes. I know in this business

youíre unrehearsed for an incident, and you donít have a second chance when

youíre dealing with peopleís lives. So itís a very serious situation, and Iím really

proud to be here to share some of our personal -- what weíve looked, and what--

Last night, I just made 10 bullet points in preparation for today,

coming here before you. In the 20-somewhat years that Iíve been in business,

45

knock on wood (knocks on desk), not one insurance claim. Iím really proud

of that, and I want to keep it that way.

First of all, in reference to sprinkler systems, I know that, right now,

itís a national thing that says venues under 300 donít need them. Iíll tell you

what. If I had a venue with 100 capacity, I, personally, would put a sprinkler

system. So thatís from my own personal opinion.

As far as extinguishers, when I see those vivid pictures on TV, I say

to myself, "Whoever shot those fireworks, pyros, whatever you want to call

them, should have had a fire extinguisher on hand, and that would have

prevented 98 lives-- Right now, Iíve driven three of my local fire extinguishers

companies out of stock. I have fire extinguishers in my bathrooms. I have fire

extinguishers now, personally, at home, because it has hit me personally. I have

taken it personal. So, I mean, am I overexaggerating?

Those pictures, to me, when I see the flames rushing up, and I just

think of a fire extinguisher, I couldnít have enough fire extinguishers right now

in my own places of business and in my home. My wife thinks Iím nuts

because I have five extinguishers, now, in every room. But itís not only the club,

but I look at, personally, all the homes and all the fires. I do have kids. I have

a family. So I think fire extinguishers are the greatest things that have come

around.

The panic bars -- I know that panic bars, in situations in a lot of

smaller -- because I do own a small Cuban restaurant in Jersey City, also. I

know that when I first started in my business, that I had to take from my kidsí

piggy bank to open up the register the first day of business. Iíll never forget that.

And then for a fire marshal to tell me that itís $400 for a panic bar, in situations

46

back then, it would have been real hard. I look at the situations now. What

Iím facing is, those are the best investments that any business could have. If

youíre going to be in business, be prepared, because itís the safety and peopleís

lives that come first.

The one thing as far as, personally, what weíve looked at, because

clubs -- nightclubs in specific -- theyíre dark. I mean, visually, for you to get the

best effect theatrically from a stage, you need to have a dark environment. Iíve

now-- And the house lights. In the case of an emergency, there is one main

switch that turns on the house lights. Iíve called in my electrician to make sure

that the main house light switches are available and accessible at different points

of the club. For if there is an emergency that happens in one place, and no one

has access to the one main switch, Iím going to have other main switches

throughout the club to be able to access the house lights on.

In reference to exits -- right now weíre just thinking from the top of

our heads, and weíre going to look into putting fire exit signs on the floors, by

the exit doors. Because in case of a fire, smoke goes up -- smoke that you canít

see those exit signs that are going to be blocked. Weíre looking at neon glow-inthe-

dark signs that we will place by our doors. Weíre also thinking of putting

the strips of lights around our doors that are, also, connected to a battery

backup in case you lose all power, that the whole strip of lights around the door

frame--

So, yes, we want to do more than are called by codes that are on the

books, because it personally affected us. That we looked back and said, "This

could have been us." And I wouldnít want to have 98 lives on my shoulder here

today.

47

So beside those situations, I know that we are already doing the

airline exit situation and focusing the spotlight on every exit at the beginning of

a show. I think that a lot of venues need to do that, as well, prior to a show.

It does make sense. Because as people have said, and the Commissioner said

before, it is the common sense of the human nature for you to exit the door that

you came in. So all our shows now, after the shows, weíre blowing all our exit

doors open, and weíre redirecting and showing people that there are other exits,

then, to educate them and to show them. Thatís one thing that people should

really -- after all is said and done -- really notice that there are other points of

exits.

Staff training, as far as staff, the volunteer paramedics, and the fire

safety, we have retired personnel that assist us. And they are great with our

staff, as far as training. We periodically talk about the situations. We always

say, "What if, what would we do?" And thatís what we constantly have to ask

ourselves. If youíre going to be in business, itís very serious, nowadays, with all

thatís going on that you take the preventative measures. I think that more

people, after today, have realized, as small businesses, that we have to start

thinking this way. We didnít back then. We have to now.

As far as first-aid kits. I know Iíve gone to places where Iíve gotten

cut, and I havenít had a Band-Aid -- simple situations like that.

Radio communications -- thatís one thing that clubs, depending on

the size-- Once the pyros went off on our club on February 14, our stage

manager reacted, rushed the stage, and we had a security alert -- all security to

the stage. We reacted.

48

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Excuse me. I read where this same

outfit, this entertainment group, had pyrotechnics in your club the week before

that.

MR. SANTANA: Yes.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: And you said that when they went off

during the show, your people rushed to the stage, etc.?

MR. SANTANA: Correct.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: The question I have is how did they get

in, in the first place? I mean, this is a group, I would imagine, that uses this in

their act, correct?

MR. SANTANA: Yes, correct.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Is it usually the procedure that these

groups are to notify the owners that theyíre going to use pyrotechnics and they

get approval or not? I mean, in other words, why wasnít it checked before

hand? As you say, youíre very fortunate that this didnít happen in your place,

but it could very well have happened in your place, I suppose. Why is it -- how

is it that they were able to bring these into your club?

MR. SANTANA: Well, first and foremost, when you book a band,

a national band, you sign the contract and in the contract is a rider. And in the

rider, it stipulates everything as far as the stage plot, and who, what, when,

where. And all of that, then, is in the advanced process when your general

manager calls the tour manager and speaks about the accommodations, all the

details, and everything. None of that was mentioned.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: All right. Did you pay them?

49

MR. SANTANA: The night of the show, yes we did. After the

show, yes we did.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: They violated the contract. They

brought in pyrotechnics. They fired -- they set them off. Why did they get

paid?

MR. SANTANA: After we realized the circumstance, once we

rushed to the stage and everything, and the tour manager just like, basically,

shrugged it off -- that this is no big deal; we do this all the time; it doesnít hurt

anybody -- we just let it go. At the end of the night, we did have words with

them. They come from a good booking agency that we felt -- you donít want

to endanger, with the agents, for future bookings of other acts.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: So the next week that 100 people died

there, or whatever -- I donít know the number. So the next week these same

group of people, who were not chastised at all for bringing this in, have the same

thing and people lose their lives. In other words, what Iím saying is that there

seems to me that we need to be a little bit more proactive on these things. That

there needs to be, for instance-- Because this can happen, and it did happen in

a situation like that. If these people had a contract that said they -- did not

include that, and they did it, and there was nothing that kept them from going

on to the next venue, they did it and then people lost their lives.

Let me ask you a question. I know you have some other points, but

I want to move, on the interest of time. But have you ever had any instances

where-- Youíve been in business how long?

MR. SANTANA: Twenty-six years.

50

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Twenty-six years. You own a place --

and you own a couple places, at least, right?

MR. SANTANA: Yes.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Have you ever had any of the

inspectors come in to look the other way or suggest that maybe they might look

the other way? In other words, have you had any kind of experience like that?

MR. SANTANA: No.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: No. In the 20-some-odd years that

youíve been in business, youíve never had an inspection?

MR. SANTANA: They havenít caught things that I knew were

wrong.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: You never had an experience where an

inspector, or somebody responsible for this, suggested that maybe they would,

kind of, overlook something?

MR. SANTANA: No.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Never?

MR. SANTANA: No.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Okay. All right.

What about your security staff? For instance, we keep talking

about fire. And I want to keep reminding people about the Chicago incident,

where the people were trampled, not because of fire, but because of panic.

What kind of training does security people have that, in quelling fights and

things like that, that would prevent something like this from happening?

51

MR. SANTANA: As far as -- first of all, we do search, and thereís

no pepper spray on premise, not even by a head of security. So thereís no

weapons whatsoever on the premise, period.

As far as training, most of them have worked in prior club

situations, but we always go the extra mile. We have training meetings every

Thursday night, which will be tonight. And tonight we have a special one, with

the Asbury Park Fire Department coming in and speaking on different

evacuation situations and everything. So weíve brought in special martial

artists, as far as for pressure points, in case if you canít subdue someone or

someone is really violent, and how to wrestle them before you call the

authorities, to have, then, the police department, then, take over. So weíve gone

through different points as far as security.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you.

One question from the Assemblywoman.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Mr. Santana, I want to

commend you, because youíre taking this very seriously, as every owner should

be.

On the inspections, how often do you get the inspections? Youíve

been in business for 20-something years. Are your clubs within the same city or

do you have them in different places?

MR. SANTANA: Different cities.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Okay. And both cities, who

does the inspection and how often do they come?

MR. SANTANA: Itís once a year. Usually, itís once a year.

52

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: You donít see them before

that?

MR. SANTANA: No. But now weíre getting, periodically, spot

checks nightly at The Stone Pony, which we feel very comfortable with that. I

donít have a problem with that whatsoever.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: In the yearly inspection, you

donít get notified ahead of time when theyíre coming.

MR. SANTANA: No.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: They will show up, and they

will do the inspection?

MR. SANTANA: Yes.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: So prior to this incident,

you only have the inspector walking into your places once a year?

MR. SANTANA: Correct.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Okay.

Thank you so much.

MR. SANTANA: Thank you.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: And thank you for your

honesty.

MR. SANTANA: Yes.

And, Chairman, Iíd like to tell you personally, and I took that

position the day that the tragedy happened when I saw the act say, on TV, that

the club knew about it, and they were responsible. Thatís why I turned around

and I said, "How dare you?" Because we didnít know about it, and you put us

at harmís way, and we would have been responsible. As far as where -- I felt

53

that I could have, maybe, prevented that by making a call. And, yes, we have

gotten, from different club owners, as far as maybe documenting on one master

Web site, to document what fans -- to be able to say, "Hey, heads up on this."

These guys got drunk. They started throwing bottles off the stage. Before I

opened up The Stone Pony, I never knew what a mosh pit was. Have you ever

seen the mosh pit? Very dangerous.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: I wouldnít admit it, anyway.

(laughter)

MR. SANTANA: Well, there are certain things that-- Theyíll --

body surfing, and go grab your sprinkler systems, and hang from your sprinkler

system. Right now, weíve put Vaseline on all of our sprinkler systems so they

could slip off, but--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: I wondered why I fell. (laughter)

The Assemblywoman has one more question.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Mr. Santana, I didnít give

you an opportunity to answer the question. Who conducts the inspection in

your establishment? Is it the DCA, the department, or is it the local people, the

municipality, who is responsible for the inspections?

MR. SANTANA: Now, currently, weíve had everything. Weíve

had -- from the Attorney Generalís office, the State agency. Because of the

circumstance, weíve had more than our fair call of spot checks. So it varies.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Before?

MR. SANTANA: Before, no. It was usually one department, local

municipal department.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Thanks.

54

MR. SANTANA: No problem.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

MR. SANTANA: Thanks. Thank you.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Mr. Tom Millar.

I want to thank you very much by the way, Mr. Santana, for

coming here. I read about -- and I really appreciate your coming forward as you

did. Thank you.

Mr. Millar.

T H O M A S M I L L A R: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name

is Thomas Millar, West Windsor Township Construction Official.

Everything that I was going to say has already been said. But Iím

not sure if this Committee understands what the inspection process is. Maybe

itís worthwhile telling you. Iím the construction official, and I am in charge of

the Construction Department to make sure that all buildings are built in

accordance with the laws.

Once a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued, we are out of the

picture. We no longer go to these buildings. But the uniform fire code kicks in

at that point, and they do their inspections. In a place like a nightclub, I believe

itís four times a year. Itís done quarterly.

This Committee seems to be looking for an assurance of, what

happened in Rhode Island and in Chicago will not happen in New Jersey.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: As best we can. Thatís right.

MR. MILLAR: Yes. If youíre only doing the inspections four times

a year, it seems that four times a year they will be safe. The rest of the time they

may not be safe. I have had occasion to issue a Certificate of Occupancy for a

55

building and had occasion to go back the next day for some matter, and the fire

doors and the stair towers were wedged open. So we do our best, but thatís not

enough.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: The reason for this hearing, of course,

is exactly that. We did not want to wait until we had a tragedy here. And the

reason for this hearing is to bring people like you with suggestions and

recommendations where we might be able to ensure, as much as possible, the

prevention of a similar kind of situation.

Youíre the experts, and your opinion is that once youíre finished

with it, itís turned over to -- what -- the uniform fire code inspections, etc. And

if itís once a year or four times a year, youíre saying that weíre only sure if --

those four times a year that they may be safe. What weíre going to, hopefully,

come out of this hearing is to review what we have in place and take the kinds

of suggestions that people make on how we might be able to improve that.

Youíve heard me, also, make -- several times reiterate that weíre not

looking simply at fire violations or fire codes, but weíre looking at other ways

to protect people from panic situations. I think youíve heard me say that. And,

of course, some of the things that are coming out of this are, one -- is a

suggestion that Assemblyman Cryan raised. And that is, would you expect us

or do you think we should announce periodically throughout the night where the

exits are, etc., etc, etc.? Thatís an idea that doesnít require legislation, but

certainly there might be an association that these owners belong to where they

could, kind of, pick up on this stuff and suggest to each other through, as Mr.

Santana said, some kind of Web page or whatever, where they can inform each

other of these things.

56

But the reason for this, of course, is to find out from people like

you and others what are some of the suggestions that we might make to try to

ensure that we can save peopleís lives here.

MR. MILLAR: Other than having an inspector there at every event,

I donít see any way to do it.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Well, I think youíre kind of

downplaying the integrity of the owners. For instance, what we heard, also here,

is that there were 59 inspections over the last weekend, and 40 of them were

fine. So I think what we have, and I think that we should keep in mind, is that

we do have people in the business who are receptive to those kinds of ideas. I

donít think that-- I would certainly hope that people are not as you, perhaps,

are describing -- that the only times that they are going to be safe, and the

owners are going to make sure that we have safety, is when thereís inspections

coming up.

There are people who are honorable people in this business. We

have one here as a matter of fact. Mr. Cryan is a very honorable man.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Thatís right. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Oh, he wouldnít say

otherwise. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Is that on the record? Do we have that

on the record? Okay. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Even though his place was severely

overcrowded on St. Patrickís Day, and will be again--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: God willing. (laughter)

57

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: --he is one of the honorable owners.

But there are people, Iím sure, who are as concerned, as Mr. Santana expressed,

concerned about the safety of people and will not need to be monitored on a

365-day-a-year-- Itís my hope that weíll be--

MR. MILLAR: Thereís no question. I agree with you.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Right.

Are you accompanying Mr. Millar, or are you-- Could you identify

yourself, please?

M I C H A E L F. C E R R A: Iím Mike Cerra. On behalf of the League of

Municipalities, I brought Mr. Millar in to represent the League and the Building

Officials Association.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Very well, thank you.

Does anyone have any questions for Mr. Millar? (no response)

Thank you very much for coming.

MR. MILLAR: Thank you.

MR. CERRA: Thank you.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Mr. Joe Ardere, I believe. Please

identify yourself and pronounce your name correctly for those of us who canít.

J O S E P H A R D E R E: My name is Joseph Ardere. Itís close enough.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Okay.

MR. ARDERE: Iím Joe Ardere. Iím past president of the New

Jersey Licensed Beverage Association. And also, I was Chairman of the New

Jersey Licensed Beverage Fire Code Committee, during the time when most of

the rules and regulations for the nightclubs were written. I believe Mr. Connolly

was the director, or was the head of that, at DCA.

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I have a small establishment, and I am an entertainer. I have

entertainment in my place. I can tell you that New Jersey has one of the most

stringent fire codes in the nation. We are inspected regularly. Fire inspectors are

well-trained. All doors must open out. All exit signs must be lighted and have

a battery backup in case of an electrical failure. There must be battery backup

emergency lighting that must stay on for two hours. And as far as the New

Jersey Licensed Beverage Association is concerned, the New Jersey Uniform Fire

Code is strong and is being enforced fairly.

Thatís our position. And I want to thank Mr. Connolly, because

he was very instrumental in getting the nightclub category raised to 300

occupancy. And as you know, Mr. Connolly, at the time, we were in

discussions. They wanted to put sprinklers in every establishment that had

entertainment three nights a year and an occupancy of more than 49. Now, that

was so far off the wall that we had places that had an occupancy of 75 people

that put a sprinkler system in that cost $35,000. And in some cases, the

sprinkler systems were just impossible to do. So we were very fortunate that we

were able to raise that to 300, plus you have to have enough doors, exits, or--

The main thing is exits.

The problem in Chicago -- you had 2,000 people on the second

floor with one exit down a flight of stairs. That should have never been allowed

to happen. The thing in Rhode Island happened because it was negligence on

everybodyís part. I recall that in the research that I did, and I was chairman for

five years, that there has never been one person die in a nightclub fire in the

State of New Jersey, in the history of the State of New Jersey. There was an

illegal place, I believe, in Elizabeth. It was an unlicensed club that was on the

59

second floor. You recall that. And we got a lot of heat about that, said, "You

guys--" Wait a minute. Weíre licensed. Weíre the most heavily licensed and

policed industry in the country.

So, anyhow, I just would like to say that I think the New Jersey Fire

Code Act is fine, and I donít have any problems with it.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Before we get to you--

MR. ARDERE: Yes. This is Barbara McConnell. Sheís our

lobbyist.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Yes.

You say that youíre pleased that weíre able to raise the level to,

what is it, 300 capacity for fire sprinklers?

MR. ARDERE: Right. With--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Has there ever been a fire in a place

with less than 300 people, that may have died? I mean, have we ever had a--

MR. ARDERE: I donít know of anybody that every died in a

nightclub fire in the State of New Jersey.

MR. CONNOLLY: (speaking from audience) They wonít, if it

complies with all of the other permits.

MR. ARDERE: Right. The 300 occupancy is not just the only

requirement. You have to have the proper exits to accommodate the people

getting out of the buildings. And as far as sprinklers are concerned, if fire starts

and people canít get out of the buildings before the sprinklers come on, and--

Sprinklers save buildings, you know. And now you get multiple floors, high-rise

buildings and places like that, sprinklers are absolutely a requirement. But a

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single floor where the exits are within 35 or 40 feet of everybody, sprinklers are

not necessary. That was one of the things that they took into consideration.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: You say one of the requirements is that

all doors have to open out.

MR. ARDERE: Absolutely. And unlocked.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Have you ever heard of any places that

-- where the doors open in?

MR. ARDERE: Nothing. Not since they passed that law, because

I--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Iíve been to places that -- there are

bars, etc., clubs where the doors open in.

MR. ARDERE: Well, somebody is not doing their job.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thatís why Iíve asked several times

today--

MR. ARDERE: Now, it may be the occupancy. Now, if the

occupancy is under 49, the doors donít have to open. Right?

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Is that right?

MR. ARDERE: Now I havenít looked at my Fire Code book lately,

but itís only about that thick. (indicating thickness) Section 518-,2:c -- you

need to be a New York lawyer to figure the things out.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thatís why Iíve asked from time to

time whether or not anybody has ever heard of any instance, wherever, an

inspector has come and looked the other way. I mean, because I have from

time to time gone into places -- what -- maybe they were a new use or something

like that, where the doors donít open out the way they should.

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MR. ARDERE: Well, when I first bought my place, Mr. Chairman,

all the doors opened in. And when they passed the law, thatís the first thing I

did. I have all the doors open out, and panic bars. And not only panic bars,

but-- You really donít have to have a panic bar if you donít have a lock on the

door. So, if the door canít be locked from the outside, and you could push it

out, you donít even need a panic bar. But itís the same principle, same

principle.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you.

You do, Iím sure, understand the reason for this hearing today.

MR. ARDERE: Oh, absolutely.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: So we can be -- prevent this. You said

we have a history of not having any problems, so we want to keep it that way.

MR. ARDERE: Right. And thatís a tribute to the Fire Bureau.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: I want to make sure that we donít slip

up a little bit. Just as the owner of The Stone Pony said, people did come in.

They had fireworks in his place. He didnít know anything about it, etc., etc.,

etc. One instance like that can cost us lives. And I know what weíre doing here

today is to try to prevent that.

MR. ARDERE: No question.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Let me ask Ms. Barbara McConnell,

now, if you would identify yourself, also.

B A R B A R A M c C O N N E L L: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of

the Committee. I am Barbara McConnell, the legislative agent for the New

Jersey Licensed Beverage Association. We represent about 6,000 licensees, some

62

of which are nightclubs, and many of which are restaurants that are, also,

entertainment venues.

I want to praise you and this Committee for holding this hearing.

Because although I feel, as Mr. Ardere has said, that New Jersey has got very

strong fire codes, enforcement is good, our inspectors are well-trained-- But as

Mr. Santana said, it could have been him. It could have been us. And so, we

really welcome the opportunity to come and share with you our views.

It is our belief that throughout our membership, the 6,000 licensees,

that they are doing their best to comply. Many of them are very small

businesses -- to comply, certainly with the fire code -- and we welcome that. I

think what we, as owners, can do and what our members are perfectly willing

to do -- and I also was very impressed with Commissioner Levinís testimony,

because it appears to me that the division, including Mr. Connolly and other

officials, are being very proactive and logical in this. They have done a

tremendous job in really reviewing what is going on out there, and doing spot

checks of 1,500 nightclubs over this past weekend, and finding only just a few

minor violations.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Fifty-nine.

MS. McCONNELL: Well, they did 59, but I believe their target

is to do the 1,500 at some point.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Fifteen hundred. Yes, right.

MS. McCONNELL: And Iím just real confident that a very few

violations are going to be found, and they will be minor. And I think thatís a

credit to the State and certainly to the Division of Community Affairs.

63

But I think there are things that we, as owners, can do -- Iím not an

owner -- but our owners can do, and I believe theyíre doing that. When the fire

in Rhode Island broke out, I donít think there is a license holder in this State

that didnít shiver and think, "I need to take another look at what weíre doing,

because it could happen to us." And one of them is to do self-inspection

yourself, periodically, to make sure that youíre comfortable and confident with

your compliance. Make sure your employees are trained. Make sure that your

exit signs are visible and that your customers know where those exit signs are.

Donít violate seating capacity or standing capacity, and make sure you know

what your entertainment contracts are going to do and say, as Mr. Santana.

I believe that our Association members try diligently to follow those

self-imposed rules, and we certainly want to cooperate with the Department of

Community Affairs on any of their deliberations regarding this, and certainly

with your Committee, Mr. Chairman.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

Are there questions?

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Just one. What did you think of the

idea of announcing -- to either one, Barbara or Joe?

MR. ARDERE: I donít have any problem with that. Although my

particular establishment is so small--

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Well, that wouldnít matter.

MR. ARDERE: --that they know where -- you could see it. In my

place, I donít think anybody is more than 35 feet, 40 feet from an exit. But in

a big venue -- thereís where the catastrophes can happen, is in the big venues,

where they got 300, 400, 500 people. I think they should announce where the

64

exits are, and like you said, that would be something we could do on our own.

We donít need legislation to do that. Be a suggestion that we could suggest to

our members.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Weíd appreciate that. I just want to

say thanks and reiterate, again, that this situation in Rhode Island was clearly

fire violations and that licensed establishments in the State of New Jersey donít

have a history of problems here. We should reiterate that in the points that we

make.

MR. ARDERE: Well, I guess it was in í86 or so, when they had the

problem at Great Adventure.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Right.

MR. ARDERE: Now, that was neglect there. They never should

have allowed those-- They were containers, so to speak, to connect one to

another. That was a fire trap. Apparently, somebody got penalized on that.

Great Adventure certainly did; they paid.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Yes.

Ms. McConnell, your association, do you represent all 6,000

establishments that have liquor licenses, I suppose?

MS. McCONNELL: Thatís correct.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Is there some way your owners can

have a -- oh, I donít know -- network to inform them? For instance, now, a

couple of times Iíve asked about security -- training for security people, etc., etc.

Again, I go back to the panic, the stampede in Chicago. A lot of the discos that

we have here, I suppose you represent them, as well, if they serve liquor, I

suppose.

65

MS. McCONNELL: Could, yes.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: It would seem to me that there might

be some kind of uniform training as a result of what happened out there, or

what have you, that maybe your association -- because Iíve been trying to find

what kind of an association does represent, across the board, these owners of

places like this.

MS. McCONNELL: Right.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: It might be helpful if, in fact, some

kind of uniform training or how to do things-- I see the Commissioner has put

out some doís and doníts. But something like that, that can get out to all of the

owners to -- how to handle situations such as this, would be really very, very

helpful. The Commissioner also said something about, the inspections may not

necessarily be uniform in all the municipalities. I think they should be. I think

that there should be more uniformity with the inspections that go on. And so,

it would be helpful if your association, somehow, could help to get the word

across, to all of the members, of some of the doís and doníts -- even what was

put out today by the Commissioner would be very helpful.

MS. McCONNELL: We certainly will. And I thought, again, that

was a good idea for the department to put out those doís and doníts, and itís

something that this association would be very happy to disseminate among our

membership. But also, I think, as an association, we also have the ability to

continue to raise the consciousness among our members about the need to be

self-vigilant, as I pointed out in some of my comments, to be self-regulated.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Sure.

66

MS. McCONNELL: And certainly to work with the department on

any proactive ideas that we can do.

MR. ARDERE: Mr. Chairman, I donít know whether youíre aware

of this, but we are issued a hazardous use certificate. And unless our premises

pass the inspections, they will not issue us a hazardous use inspection

certificate, which costs me about $400 a year. And that doesnít include the

price of inspection. My inspections are done by my local municipality.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Right.

MR. ARDERE: The towns that donít have fire officials, then the

State does those inspections.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Right.

MR. ARDERE: But unless you pass the tests, you donít get your

hazardous use-- If you donít get your hazardous use certificate, you donít get

your liquor license renewed.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Mr. Cryan.

MR. ARDERE: So, I mean, we have some checks and balances out

there.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Iím having a mind blank here.

Who prints that journal every month?

MS. McCONNELL: We did.

MR. ARDERE: We did.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: You do.

MR. ARDERE: Over the Bar Report.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: So we can put the prices and all that

stuff, we can put the doís and doníts in there. Can we just do that?

67

MR. ARDERE: Sure, we could do that, definitely.

MS. McCONNELL: Sure.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Kind of a fundamental thing. And that

touches every license holder.

MR. ARDERE: Right. We could do that. We send a monthly

newsletter.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: I think, on behalf of the Committee,

that would be something that would be greatly appreciated.

MS. McCONNELL: Definitely.

MR. ARDERE: We can do that. Weíll send you a copy.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: You get it anyway.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Thank you.

MR. ARDERE: Oh, yes. Well, he gets a copy.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Letís see, the Licensed Beverage

Association and the New Jersey Restaurant Association, do you cover the same

organizations, the same--

MS. McCONNELL: Basically, the Restaurant Association,

Deborah Dowdell is here, and Iím sure she--

MR. ARDERE: No, she left.

MS. McCONNELL: No, she had to leave. But the Restaurant

Association might also represent nonlicensees, for instance. The New Jersey

Licensed Beverage Association was the old Tavern Association. So traditionally,

our membership consisted of small bars and taverns throughout the State.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: It sounds so much better.

68

MS. McCONNELL: I know. But now we do have larger

restaurants. We do have entertainment venues. Some nightclubs are our

members. Both the Restaurant Association and the Licensed Beverage

Association -- there are some overlapping memberships. I think licensees are

eligible for membership in both of those organizations. But we tend to represent

more the bars and taverns.

MR. ARDERE: And licensees.

MS. McCONNELL: And licensees.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

For the record, I would just mention that Ms. Deborah Dowdell,

the Executive Vice President of the New Jersey Restaurant Association, was here,

and she left a statement for this hearing.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

MR. ARDERE: Thank you.

MS. McCONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Discotheques? Did I hear you say

discotheques? Did I hear you say discos?

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Well, whatever.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: They havenít been discos since the

í70s. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Well, whatís the names of those things.

Well, whatever. In my day, they were-- Oh, what the heck.

Rich Buck, please, the Mercer County Improvement Authority.

R I C H A R D B U C K: My name is Richard Buck, and Iím Deputy

Executive Director with the Mercer County Improvement Authority. We

69

oversee the operation of the Sovereign Bank Arena. I canít get you tickets to

Bruce Springsteen, but I can get you tickets for Big Bird and Elmo next month.

(laughter)

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Iíd take that. (laughter)

Thatís okay.

MR. BUCK: See me after.

This is Patrick Cane. Heís my Chief of Enforcement. Heís actually

the director in charge of implementing our plans. I know that the Chairman has

spoken about not just fire, but how do we respond to crowd control and

incidents such as that.

What Iíve passed out to you is the Emergency Response Plan that

we put together with the Trenton Police force, Sovereign Bank Arena staff, and

the Trenton Fire Department. That will outline for you how weíve interpreted

some of the local regulations, and some of the goals we seek to achieve in

responding to an emergency.

There are a couple of areas -- again, a lot of things have already

been said by the professionals from the Meadowlands Association -- but I think

key is-- Letís talk about what we do. Key, internally, with the Sovereign Bank

Arena staff themselves, they are trained. They all get a copy of the plan that

you see in front of you. Every new employee is briefed on this plan.

As a matter of fact -- Patrick can talk about it at length, if you wish.

This January, before these incidents occurred, our arena management team met

with the Trenton Police and Fire Company. And we are going to be doing

regular drills with the arena staff so that they can direct crowds. As was

mentioned earlier by the Meadowlands staff, is that, when people come in, they

70

generally come in the same exits. And so, during an event, they tend to

stampede all in that one direction. And so, one of the things thatís going to be

addressed in some of the staff training is how to get people out in other exits.

The other thing is that, because we do over 160 events a year at the

arena, the Police and the Fire Chiefs know and are familiar with all of our staff

people, so, not only do they know each other personally, but theyíre very aware

of the building. They know where the exits are, and during an event, before an

event happens, they do an inspection of the arena and go over any issues that

look suspicious with arena staff.

Again, the details of what happens during each type of an

emergency, and what preparations are made, and what staffing levels are

required at each event have been laid out for the Committee, in that plan. Iíll

be happy to take any questions on that.

All full-time event staff are certified in CPR and first aid. The arena

bears the expense of sending all event staff to national conferences on security

and crowd control issues. Anything that they learn there they review with the

city of Trenton Police and Fire Department, and implement any new best

practices. Also, post 9/11, there were a host of security changes made. One of

the most significant is that we installed a $150,000 video security system that

monitors every entranceway, and outdoors and the parking area as well, that we

monitor for suspicious activity. All of event staff and police are able to

communicate on the same radio frequency, so that staff can contact either fire

officials or police, who are both inside the facility or outside the facility. So, if

an incident starts to get beyond control, they can contact the police directly at

that instance.

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We had opportunity, during last Earth Day -- there was a bomb

threat where we had a significant size event at the arena, and this plan was

executed, Iím happy to say, without incident or injury.

So we look forward to working with the Committee and looking to

implement any new suggestions that come out of here. But we have been pretty

proactive in working, again, with the city of Trenton Police and Fire, who we

have very good relationships with, and even going beyond some of what the

regulations require.

A couple of recommendations: Again, we have the resources at the

arena to be able to train staff on a fairly regular basis and do those drills. And

Iím aware that with some of the local supporting clubs, like the Conduit or the

Urban Word -- may not have those resources, one and two, because, generally,

in those types of businesses you tend to have high staff turnover. You probably

need to make more capital investments as opposed to staff training, but that

would be one recommendation.

And Iím wondering if the Committee would consider maybe going

the other way. The Commissioner spoke about highlighting the fact that you

have satisfactorily implemented best practices, but, maybe, on some certain

serious violations you post something prominent at their entranceway. Because

thatís going to prevent people from coming in the facility and hitting them in the

wallet. But, again, that would be something--

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Sure. Like Meganís Law. Put it on TV.

MR. BUCK: --and the DCA would have to determine. It wouldnít

be a minor violation, but serious violations, so that the patrons are aware.

72

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Well, thatís an idea. And if they have

serious violations, they should be closed down. That inspector who finds these

violations, if theyíre serious enough, should close them down until the place is--

MR. BUCK: Right.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: --until theyíre corrected. And that way,

they wonít be getting in there to begin with.

MR. BUCK: Right.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Again, it takes me back to this business

about whether or not these inspections are as thorough, in all cases, as they

should be, or whether or not there are some places where they slip through the

cracks.

MR. BUCK: The other thing that we do, depending on the type of

issue: If there are pyrotechnics, we have a licensed pyrotechnic technician there.

The staff are trained in use of fire hydrants, and the fire inspectors, also, on site

during the show. Again, if an event where there might be an injury, we have

additional EMT staff as well. If we think that there might be a rowdier crowd,

we do bring in a private security form (sic) that supplements the significant

amount of trained police officers that we already have on site.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Security force.

MR. BUCK: Yes. Private security force that supplements the

staffing that we pay for, to the city of Trenton, for police protection.

Thatís all I have for the Committee. Iíll take any questions.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you.

Assemblywoman.

73

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Just a quick one. Did you

provide the Fire Department and the Police Department, like, a schedule of

events ahead of time?

MR. BUCK: I believe they get a weekly schedule events package.

P A T R I C K C A N E: A weekly schedule, and actually speak pretty much

on a daily basis about codes and up-and-coming events and any changes. Both

the sheriffís department, Trenton PD and Fire Department are all, on a daily

basis, discussing about the events.

MR. BUCK: Itís almost like theyíre on our part-time staff, anyway.

But thereís a very good relationship between the Sovereign Bank Arena staff and

the local law enforcement officials. And again, weíre only a stoneís throw away,

so I invite you all to come out. We do have a Mid-Atlantic Conference

Basketball tournament going on for the next few days. So come on out.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Whatís going on tonight after this

hearing?

MR. BUCK: We have, again, basketball, the Mid-Atlantic

Conference. We think itís only three bucks a beer at Sovereign Bank. So a little

cheaper than the Meadowlands.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

The representatives are here, still -- someone from DCA, and I think

there are some recommendations that are coming out and will be in our printed

testimony -- that some of the suggestions that are being made here, some are --

seem to be very logical and elementary that we could, kind of, adopt. One

being, to share this information throughout the industry. You mentioned CPR

and first aid training, etc., for people. Iím sure thatís very important and thatís

74

something that, perhaps, should be done. Security and crowd control training,

etc., those are very important things, I think. And possibly, it probably is

different from each venue -- not, probably. There can be some kind of uniform

suggestions or recommendations that would be very helpful throughout this

industry.

Thank you for your testimony.

MR. BUCK: Thank you very much.

MR. CANE: Thank you.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Dominick Zarrillo.

M A T T H E W S. H A L P I N, ESQ.: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My name is Matt Halpin. Iím with Hodes Shaw Bodman Gluck.

Iím joined by Dominick Zarrillo, who is from Loews Cineplex Theaters, who

offers some testimony this morning, or I should say this afternoon, on behalf of

the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Theater Owners, to offer

a perspective on that.

We thank you for inviting us here today. And just to assure you

and the members of the Committee: As this becomes an ongoing discussion,

weíd be more than happy to serve as a resource for all of you.

At this point, Iíll turn it over to Dominick for some remarks.

D O M I N I C K Z A R R I L L O: Thank you, Matt.

Again, my name is Dominick Zarrillo. Iím a Regional Director

representing Loews Theaters, NATO -- National Association of Theater Owners

-- that are out in Las Vegas. So Iím going to do the best I can here. I was asked

yesterday at 5:00 to come out and give you guys some suggestions on what we

do at Loews Theaters. And more specifically, two things, two things that we do-

75

- Let me first preface this by saying that the biggest thing we need to do with

our theaters is staff and management training and development. We need to

make sure theyíre aware for our guestsí safety. And thereís two things that we

do. We have bimonthly staff meetings that go over several different issues in the

theaters -- safety, or whatever. But more specifically, at the end, we conduct fire

drills for the staff.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: How often is this?

MR. ZARRILLO: This is bimonthly, usually the third or fourth

Saturday every other month, in the auditoriums.

Weíve also had occasions to bring in the local fire department,

inspector, supervisor, that would come and address the staffs. Actually, we

havenít done that lately -- but in sitting here and listening to all these

suggestions, in light of everything that happened, Iím going to recommend that

we go back and maybe talk to the managers of the facilities and see if, at one of

the next meetings, if we can get somebody from the local fire departments to

come in and actually address the staff. Because the managers -- we can sit there

and talk to them, but weíre not as trained as somebody out there in the fire

department. So weíre going to do that.

We have a Safety and Security Department, as well, in the

corporate office, that issue monthly security posters that we put in the employee

training and/or break rooms. We put them in frames, and we keep the yearly

poster up. Each month that we get one, we keep the whole year up. And as the

new year comes out, January, we put the new January poster up and take the old

one down. So thereís always a set of 12 posters up, and they highlight anything

from hazardous conditions in the parking lot to conditions in the theater,

76

whether itís the aisle lights that need to be kept lit, exit signs, wet floor signs in

the theaters. So each month thereís something thatís highlighted -- security and

safety related in the auditorium -- that we keep posted.

We also have smoke detectors, routine fire inspections once a year,

sprinkler system tests, fire alarm panel tests. Crowd control is a big thing in the

theaters. The staff is trained, typically, to supervise. Down our corridors, we

have stanchions or ropes that we only keep up in times of high-volume movies

that come out. We keep people lined up in a certain area. Once the crowd is

let in, we take the poles down, and we just put them up in times that theyíre

needed.

We used to -- Iím not sure if we do at all locations now -- I think

itís mandated by different municipalities, but exit trailers used to be run before

the movies started, where we would give the guests a perspective on, "Exits are

located in the front and the rear." As somebody was stating earlier, most people

come in the same way -- or leave the same way they come in. So, we, at least,

highlight where the exits are. We make sure we keep them well lit. Thatís a

recommendation Iím going to bring back to our corporate office and maybe say,

letís be more proactive. Maybe we donít have to just do it selectively. Maybe

we should just do it.

Thatís pretty much-- Those are the suggestions that I wanted to

bring up. Iíd be more than happy to answer any questions. If not, I can get the

answer and get back to you.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Mr. Cryan.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Exit trailers and the prevention. How

are they produced?

77

MR. ZARRILLO: We have -- itís a company called Cinema

Concepts. Itís a separate company. They can make anything from gift

certificate advertisements to exit trailers to movie trailers. Theyíre usually a 30-

second spot, and theyíre just attached to the front of the movie.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: And is it a policy of Loews to have

those?

MR. ZARRILLO: I donít think, right now, itís a specific policy.

Like I said, I think itís mandated in certain townships, by the fire departments,

that we have to run the exit trailers. Iím in charge of 13 locations, and I think,

right now, we may only have one location thatís required to run them.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Thatís something, without speaking for

everybody, that you generally feel might be--

MR. ZARRILLO: I think that would be something, as speaking

proactively and addressing-- We donít have intermissions in the movies. So

you press the start button, and it runs for two, two-and-a-half hours. The most

you can do is make an announcement at the beginning of the movie. Itís not

feasible, really, to stop the movie. Weíd get things thrown at us. But at the

beginning of the movie, whether itís an announcement, personally or on screen,

itís something that we can definitely look at.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Do you mind me asking if you have

any idea of the cost of something like that?

MR. ZARRILLO: The trailers -- theyíre not very expensive. I would

say each trailer produced would probably be $30 to $40. And if you have 10

screens, youíre talking about $300, $400.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: The actual--

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MR. ZARRILLO: Itís a 30-second spot. It comes on 35 millimeter

film. And each, to get produced, is probably around $40. And if you wanted

to put that on every screen, youíre talking $40 per screen.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: But, I guess what I want -- there are

some situations that seem like these trailers would be applicable. Like, suppose

tomorrow we passed a law that said every movie theater should have a trailer.

What financial burden would we--

MR. ZARRILLO: Minimal.

ASSEMBLYMAN CRYAN: Minimal. Okay.

Thanks.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much.

You say you donít have intermissions in the movies, etc., etc.,

unless itís one of those three- or four-hour ones.

MR. ZARRILLO: We have one out now -- Gods and Generals --

thatís four hours, and there is a 15-minute break.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Yes, I havenít seen it. Iíve been missing

so many of these movies. I havenít seen any in a long time.

But anyway, these subliminal kinds of messages-- I know that

thereís, sometimes -- you can flash almost imperceptive kinds of messages, that

people are prone to go out to buy popcorn, etc., for instance. I mean, movies

have used these kinds of things to get people to go-- All of a sudden theyíre

walking out wondering why theyíre going, because thereís something thatís been

flashing there. They could probably do something like that as well. Maybe it

might be some kind of subliminal message flashing where the exits are, as well.

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I donít know. Maybe thatís something that works for these people coming out

with cartons of popcorn. They canít even finish them; these buckets of popcorn.

MR. ZARRILLO: Right.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Anyway, I guess thatís what--

MR. ZARRILLO: Keeps the extras in business. (laughter)

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: My son is an extra.

Well, I thank you.

Does anyone have any--

Yes, Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Yes. Youíd be happy to

hear that I am one of the best patrons that you have. I have teenagers, and I go

to the movies almost every week.

MR. ZARRILLO: All right.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: My son, as a matter of fact,

was working during the holidays. It wasnít at the Loews Theater; it was at the

other one. And he did -- never receive any kind of training on evacuation,

training in case of something happened. He did not. He was there just for the

holidays. But it was interesting that you mentioned that you do it. So how

often did you do it, and is it as soon as you hire someone? Because I know

youíre very good at hiring college students, high school students -- which I really

appreciate that -- because you give them an opportunity. But how often did you

provide the training? Because to me, thatís the key. If you have the people who

are working the theater have the proper training, and you mentioned that you

do it-- My son, in the other theater, did not receive any kind of training.

MR. ZARRILLO: Right.

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ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: So you do it as soon as they

get aboard or--

MR. ZARRILLO: Thereís a training tape -- and forgive me, Iím not

sure if itís exactly on fire safety or what -- but we have orientation tapes that

they watch as the employees get hired. There is a security/safety tape that they

watch at the orientation. So thatís even before they sell their first ticket or

popcorn. So there is some type of training. Itís probably two, two-and-a-half

hour training orientation thatís held once a week when we do our hiring. And

then itís reinforced as a fire drill, or so forth, bimonthly -- six times a year.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Okay. So you do have the

drills?

MR. ZARRILLO: Oh, yes. At the end of the tape that they watch,

it says, "Please stay put. See your manager for -- weíre going to conduct a fire

drill." We have a fire evacuation plan thatís kept in the managerís office in a

binder. Itís a floor plan of the theater, the exits, where the fire extinguishers are

located. And there are several positions in the theater -- whether itís a ticket

taker, usher, cashier -- and each one of those positions are required or

responsible for a certain function in the event that thereís an emergency

situation.

And thatís the other thing. We train the staff, if thereís a fire or

something. We donít want to run into the theater and say thereís a fire. We

just make an announcement that thereís an emergency situation, can you please

exit this way or something. We try to keep the staff calm and cool so they can

reinforce that to the guests that are there. So there are several positions in the

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theater, and each one would be responsible for a certain task in the event that

thereís a situation.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CRUZ-PEREZ: Great.

Thanks.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Thank you very much for your

testimony.

Have you had any experiences where there have been any kinds of

serious emergencies, fires, etc., in any of the places that you monitor?

MR. ZARRILLO: Back in 1992, in Bricktown -- I donít know if

anybody was familiar with that -- now we have a 10-plex in Brick, 10 screens.

Back in the early í90s, we had two, five-screen complexes and a twin. And one

of the five-plexes did burn, not totally to the ground, just inside. And it was

closed for almost a year.

ASSEMBLYMAN PAYNE: Well, thank you very much for your

testimony, and for all who have testified today.

I think what we found today is that, itís been mentioned that, we

have -- itís very strict regulations in the State of New Jersey, for the protection

of our citizens. I think this hearing has prompted a new look at and a review

of whatís in place, and, also, have underscored some of the few areas that we

need, perhaps, to have some improvement. I truly hope that we have served the

purpose, and that what weíve done today will help to save lives and prevent any

kind of catastrophes that we have seen in other parts of the country.

Hopefully, those who have been here, and others, will share the

information that weíve learned, so that the industry and those who operate in

these businesses will be able to share those kinds of positive recommendations

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that were made, and that we will continue to be vigilant in seeing to it that the

citizens of New Jersey are protected, and that entertainment venues will be just

that, will be venues for entertainment and relaxation for the citizens of New

Jersey. And perhaps New Jersey can serve as a paradigm for other states, so that

we can, in fact, have the kinds of leisure time that we all deserve and then have

them in safety.

I would just like to, also, say that weíve learned that the majority

of people in this business are people who are respected and respectable citizens,

who are responsible citizens, and are, also, those who are trying to see to it that,

in addition to having a successful business, will also have a venue or a place that

will be safe for the citizens and for the patrons that they entertain. Iím very

pleased that we are able to, for the benefit of those in that business, to indicate

that they are the majority. The vast majority of people in this business are

respectable and are looking forward to trying to see to it that the citizens of New

Jersey have a decent and better quality of life.

Thank you all for coming. This meeting is adjourned.

(MEETING CONCLUDED)