Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump seems to think fire safety rules are holding America back.
At a rally Monday in Columbus, Ohio, Trump complained that the local fire marshal had turned thousands of his supporters away because the town’s mayor is a Democrat.
“He ought to be ashamed of himself,” he said. “They turned away thousands of people.”
Bashing the fire marshal appears to be a new part of Trump’s stump speech.
“This is why our country doesn’t work,” Trump said Friday, disgusted that more people couldn’t come inside an event in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We have a fire marshal that said, ‘Oh, we can’t allow more people.’ It really is so unfair to the people. I’m so sorry. I have to apologize. But it’s not my fault. I just came here.”
Occupancy limits and other fire safety rules are designed to prevent people from dying, but Trump speculated that the Colorado Springs fire marshal might be a supporter of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“What a disgraceful situation,” he said.
In February, Trump complained about fire officials cutting his audience; in July, he complained too many people had been let in. He also railed against a local fire marshal during an event in Roanoke, Virginia, last Monday.
“Outside we have a lot of people, and I wish we’d let ‘em in,” he said. “The fire department won’t let them in because of a fire regulation, which is very sad.”
Every seat in the ballroom of the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center was occupied and many other people were forced to stand. An overflow room was similarly jammed and hundreds of people were still outside.
“Where’s the fire marshal ― is he around here? Come on, fire marshal,” Trump said. “We have people standing outside, you could get a few more people inside.”
Trump suggested that because he is a builder, he knows safety better than fire officials, even though most of his own hotels haven’t received a federal fire safety certification. “I promise there’s nothing, like you don’t have a problem,” he said, arguing that there were plenty of doors if people needed to get out.
The fire department won’t let them in because of a fire regulation, which is very sad. GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump
“I was really taken aback that he’d done that,” Roanoke Fire Marshal Daniel Rakes told The Huffington Post. “We had worked with staff for the campaign and the hotel and they had set up the chairs and stuff in the main ballroom and we came up with the numbers that should be allowed in the ballroom.”
(Trump also complained during his Roanoke event that the hotel where he was speaking had deliberately turned down the air conditioning to save money, which the hotel denied.)
Robert Solomon of the National Fire Protection Association said fire safety rules limit the number of people according to the square footage of a given room. The rules also require there to be a certain number of exits, and for the exits to be wide enough for people to escape in the event of an emergency. Solomon noted occupancy limits had been exceeded in the Station nightclub in Rhode Island, where 100 people perished in 2003. Many deaths resulted from the crowd crushing into a narrow exit passage.
It’s unusual for a presidential candidate to complain about fire codes, behavior more common among people waiting to get inside a crowded nightclub.
“You shouldn’t pick on people that are doing their jobs,” Solomon said.
In Colorado, the Trump campaign may have caused the problem to begin with. Colorado Springs Fire Marshal Brett Lacey told a local TV station that the campaign had distributed too many tickets ― something it has done before.
Justin Koch, president of the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association, responded to Trump’s bullying in a statement on Monday.
“Occupancy levels are set to protect the public’s safety and we find it unfortunate that Trump’s campaign would question our judgment, expect us to break the law or [waver] from our mission to protect our community,” Koch said.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump