Danger linked to crowd size

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 March, 1996, 12:00am

Tom Tsang Tin-chung, 34, is assistant manager of the New Makati disco in Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, which has been open for six years. He is married with two young children.

What is on your mind? I have just seen the fire at the Manila disco on the news. It's really terrible - horrifying. There could be 200 people dead. I'm very upset.

People go to a disco to have a good time and then one night it all ends in tragedy. We have a lot of Filipinas here. I expect they will be talking about it tonight.

The worst you have to deal with normally is people getting drunk and having rows. But I don't think this will stop people going to discos.

Could it happen at your club? No. Never. We have regular checks. In Hong Kong the Fire Services Department has to check the premises before you get a licence.

I'm confident the wiring is safe. We have four fire exits and four fire extinguishers. Our club is 1,800 square feet. But it's never very crowded during the week. At weekends we get up to 200 people a night.

If it's full we stop them coming in and tell them to try another disco. People's safety is more important than business.

Do you have fire drills? No.

Do you or your staff know how to operate a fire extinguisher? No.

What will you do now? I've never considered a fire happening at our club before, but this has made me think about it. My boss Fong Yiu-kei is in China. When he comes back I will talk about this with him.

Maybe we will take further precautions. I will stress the importance of keeping down numbers. If you have 200-300 people inside you cannot control them. If it's too crowded accidents will happen because people won't be able to run away. And they panic which makes it worse.

I don't know about fire safety at discos in the Philippines. They were probably only thinking about business. The chances of a fire probably never crossed their minds - maybe this will make everyone think more about safety.