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Colorado Firefighters Address Crowd Safety At Concerts

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – The concerts deaths in Houston of the weekend have fire chief Kevin Vincel thinking.

"People don't realize that you're outdoors, what could go wrong? You know, as you've seen in recent news, there's a lot that can go wrong."

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Vincel and his South Adams County Fire Department pay attention to safety at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, which sometimes holds concerts.

There are a lot of venues that have large shows in Colorado. Fire departments work with venues and promoters on safety issues.

"I can guarantee that after this incident there's definitely experts out there looking at this to say, you know, how do we prevent this from happening again."

Denver Arts and Venues spokesman Brian Kitts noted that tiered event venues like Red Rocks have egress to the sides, top and even down on stage in an emergency. Large flat areas like at festival shows often have crowds gathered in front of a high stage, blocking potential exits.

"Today when they have that open seating and you're in the middle of that, that's a risk that you're going to take," said Vincel. "There's a certain formula that goes into it on how many people as that stadium is full that the exit capacity can handle."

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That formula includes a piece of space for each attendee, whether it be a concert, a restaurant, a store or mall. Experts who have studied disasters have noted the way people tend to go.

"Human nature has it that you will exit the same way you came in."

People may ignore alarms these days, but not other panicked people.

"There have been some experiments done you take one or two people and have them scream and run, and I mean everybody will follow them."

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Vincel recommends that when you arrive at a concert, or any potentially crowded space, you take note.

"Whatever you're doing, know your exiting," he said. "Like if I have to get out of here, if I can't go that way, I'm going that way."

Unfortunately that's a thought in a modern world complicated by shootings and mass casualty events. We asked what he would tell his own children. Exits and thinking about the circumstances.

"No matter where you're at, if you feel that something isn't right, just get out leave, it's not worth it."

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