Many complaints around about Walmarts blocking egresses. In some cases they are limiting the number of people in the store.
The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal issued an advisory on their Facebook page.
We have recently received concerns over stores limiting the amount of customers into their establishments or the use of “carts” as a makeshift queue for their business. We have attached pictures of big box stores in Harford County and ALL of these are permissible. What is not is permissible is BLOCKING DOORS with carts or with other makeshift barriers. We hope this clarifies and answer questions that the public may have. Be safe, be nice and be patient. We are in this together, we will get through this together. STATE FIRE MARSHAL ISSUES GUIDANCE ON REMAINING COMPLIANT WITH ENTRANCES & EXITS OF STORES STATEWIDE (April 4, 2020) - Many local businesses have recently taken steps to limit the number of customers in their stores in an effort to comply with social distancing requirements. Big box stores and your local corner stores, in many cases, have started to restrict the number of entrances into their establishments. This effort allows them to maintain an accurate count of customers entering and exiting the business, ensuring everyone's safety and ability to social distance. These restrictions have generated statewide concerns from citizens and patrons of the businesses to our office over fears of fire code violations. The State Fire Prevention Code does not require a minimum number of entrances into any mercantile store. Stores are permitted to restrict entrances to a smaller number than normal. However, it is essential that all required interior emergency exits are clear of any obstructions and available in the event of an emergency. These exits are permitted to be marked as "for use in an emergency only" with signage or employees posted at the exits. Obstructions such as carts, shelving, temporary walls, or other items would not be permitted by the State Fire Prevention Code and required to be removed immediately. State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci encourages all mercantile operators and patrons to promote and use current guidelines on essential travel and social distancing. In the course of this public health emergency, existing fire safety protection requirements should continue to be maintained. ---- MEDIA CONTACT ---- Oliver Alkire Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal/ K9 Handler "Kachina" Acting Public Information Officer Office 410-836-4846 Cell: 443-619-2192
The following are screen shots from the Maryland State Fire Marshall's Facebook page.
We also had issues with a Dunkin Donuts and a local bakery when they stopped allowing customers in the building we received a citizen complaint regarding blocked egress. The dunkin donuts was ok they were keeping the front doors locked but they have thumb lock which is easily opened. As for the local bakery their doors have push bars so door wise they were fine but the were using shelving to block the area going to their seating area which also leads to there second emergency exit, we had them remove them immediately.
We recently followed up on a complaint with an H-Mart Grocery Store. We found the store to be compliant with the Governor's Order to reduce occupancy in grocery stores https://www.mass.gov/doc/order-grocery-stores-40-percent/download
The store's capacity is normally 120 now reduced to 48 including staff. A staff member is stationed at the primary entry taking patron count. There is another emergency exit available in the rear of the store.
The below photos show the third door in question at the front of the store. The carriages can be easily moved and the door has a thumb lock that is easily rotated for exiting.