Fire code inspectors check gem show sites for safety standards - Tucson News Now

Fire code inspectors check gem show sites for safety standards

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

With just a few days left until the big opening weekend, Tucson's Gem, Mineral, and Fossil show vendors are putting up their tents and putting out their glittering rocks, minerals, fossils, and stones.

Before the public gets to take a look though, fire code enforcement inspectors have to give them the green light.

Majority of the vendors have to get permits from the city before opening up shop.  It is serious business because the safety of the public is at stake.  Thousands show up at the different venues during the event.

Brian Cobb, a fire code inspector with the Tucson Fire Department is one of the men in charge of giving these vendors the green light.

Cobb has formed a great relationship with most vendors over the years, and works hard to make sure they are complying with the city's safety standards.   

Inspections started last month.  In just a few weeks Cobb has hundreds of sites to visit and permits to approve.

He's got to look at every detail.  From making sure the tents are securely set up, to electrical wiring, lighting, working fire extinguishers, and well-lit exit signs, there's a big check list. 

"We also have to make sure there's enough space between these aisles for medical personnel in case of an emergency," said Cobb.

All venues are required to provide 20 feet of access for fire trucks and ambulances.  All food vendors also have to stay 20-feet away from the rest of the tents.

Most show managers said they strictly enforce the "no smoking" policy in all tents. 

Chris Hartley is the production manager of the Pueblo Gem Show at the River Park Inn.  They expect to greet about 400 vendors, and thousands of people.  Safety is very important for them.

"Last year for example we had somebody that brought a propane torch here.  I had to ask them to remove it," said Hartley.

Cobb said it wasn't just the fire department, it took multiple city departments to make sure the gem, mineral, and fossil show ran smoothly.  From electrical inspectors, to structural engineers, their work began months ahead of time.

"We actually start right after this one is over, the planning starts.  I start getting calls from all over the country, actually from all over the world ," said Cobb.

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