With the coronavirus growing more prevalent in Alabama, safety is the No. 1 priority for businesses who are now reopening after a nearly two-month long shutdown. But after receiving several complaints of fire code violations, Albertville Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Jason Beam said business owners need to be careful not to violate any other life safety codes in their efforts to social distance.

On Monday, May 11, the Albertville Fire Department posted on its Facebook page a general announcement for businesses not to be locking their doors with customers inside after having received complaints.

“That’s a fire code violation and a life safety code violation,” Beam said. “This is an educational issue. People really mean well. They just don’t realize that’s against fire code.”

He said the reason many businesses were doing this was to keep people from freely entering the store and the number of shoppers inside at a time to a minimum.

The Facebook post also said for any business owner to call the fire department with questions, which Beam said has gotten good responses.

“I’ve had a really good response out of that from our local businesses,” he said. “It’s not about getting anybody in trouble, we just want to make sure everybody opens back up safely. Not only do they protect themselves, but they protect their customers.”

While businesses should be concerned about mitigating the spread of COVID-19, Beam said they can’t neglect other safety issues.

“It’s not all about the [coronavirus],” he said. “You still have to be safe on the fire and life safety codes, also.” 

Beam declined to identify which businesses may have received a complaint saying he didn’t want to give anyone a  “black eye.”

“They’ve been closed down for a while,” he said. “They’re trying to make a living and they’re trying to do right. They needed to be educated on how to do it safely from a life safety standpoint, not just from the COVID standpoint.”

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