There was an incident at Northampton Night Club Lava And Ignite where people died due to an accidental crush. It does not sound like the incident was sparked by a fire but was more about panic induced by a DJ’s announcements regarding limited and accommodation after the event. This highlights the importance of a good emergency evacuation plan, well planned out routes and good signage in case of a fire or an emergency.
Licences will tell you how many people is an acceptable number of people to have on your premises at any one time. Building regulations will specify the number of exits and how wide. Fire risk assessments will determine the best way to sign and light these exits so people can find their way to them in an emergency situation even if the lighting fails.
The emergency in Northampton was not a fire, it was an accident and so no one was looking for emergency exits. It is likely they all headed for the main entrance, the doors that they were familiar with and the crush happened because everyone was heading for the same exit.
In an emergency you need to ensure there is more than one way out. This is so that you can distribute the crowd so that the building can empty quicker and without injury. It is also so that if a fire obscures one exit there is another option.
Signage is important as that is what assertive people will look for but crowds of people do not react to situations in a sensible considered way. If you can include members of staff to attend certain positions in the event of an emergency to guide people out in the best possible direction then this is a good move as well.
Your risk assessment should show that fire is one hazard, smoke is another and volumes of people is another. A well crafted fire risk assessment will leave little to chance but must be developed into a good emergency plan which is then effectively trained to all employees so everyone can act on it in an emergency without the need to seek guidance or authorisation.
As a customer visiting new premises it pays to be aware of your emergency exits just in case you ever need to use one.