Safety first for SXSW festival-goers - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Safety first for SXSW festival-goers

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Overcrowding caused one downtown venue to be shutdown overnight.
That's why safety becomes the main concern when festivals like South by Southwest draw thousands of people to Austin.

The rain is not putting a damper on festival-goers, they are everywhere.
Several agencies are working together to keep an eye out on those crowds 24/7.

With the South by Southwest Festival in town, the City of Austin hopes everyone will play by the rules.    
A team comprised of APD, AFD, Health and Code Compliance is making its way around town to see that things don't get out of hand.
"The Public Assembly Code Enforcement teams, otherwise known as the P.A.C.E teams, they go out. It's a multi-disciplinary approach to look for compliance with permits or law and city ordinance," says Lt. Vincent Hernandez, Austin Police Dept.
Overnight, a food trailer area in Downtown Austin was closed because they did not have proper permitting.
A venue on East 6th Street was closed because of overcrowding, which the fire department says can be a serious problem if not addressed right away.
"If you have an incident in the club, usually a panic ensues directly after. When you have that many people rushing to an exit, if it's not big enough for the amount of people coming, then they are all not going to get out," says Lt. Brad Price, Austin Fire Dept.
Price says often, in public assemblies, is when we see mass fire deaths.
One big safety issue is that people are popping up tents everywhere due to the weather.
Code Compliance says that's not allowed unless you have a temporary-use permit.
"A lot of them aren't fire rated and they are putting heaters under them. They are blocking the sidewalks, causing the pedestrian traffic to go into the streets instead of using the sidewalks. A whole range of issues are popping up because of that," says Todd Wilcox, Code Compliance.
The P.A.C.E. teams say one of the biggest struggles is making sure events set up as quickly as possible.
Trailers, trucks, and fork lifts are becoming an obstacle for drivers since they're blocking sidewalks and streets.
That's why alternate forms of transportation are being highly recommended.

Austin Police are asking people to consider wearing something reflective at night if you're walking around and walk in well- lit areas.

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