Fire Chief Steve Hailey says fire code problems at the West Texas Canyon Amphitheater have been in question since 2001. "Since that time we have worked diligently with the ownership and management to try to put a plan in place to bring that facility into compliance that's about an 18-month period," says Hailey.
And that's plenty of time, Hailey says to reach city fire code standards. So during the last year and a half the amphitheater was allowed to operate under certain conditions. "During that time in an effort not to shut them down we've let them operate on a conditional basis but there's been several times. They have violated those agreements."
The most recent violation happened at an April 22nd concert. Hundreds took shelter from the rain in the pavilion violating the city's rule for occupancy. So last Friday, the fire chief told amphitheater management they were closed until all violations were corrected.
Here are those violations:
All of which are life safety violations, but owner Kim Morris says those violations are being corrected today (Wednesday). "We're trying to get everything in compliance and that's what I wanted to get the record straight about today is for you to come see we've been putting in sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems," says Morris.
Morris says they've been working for about three weeks and have spent close to $60,000 to comply with the fire codes. He's hoping his venue will be ready by the end of the week. "We want to play by the rules and want to do what's right and I think the city does too. We are doing a lot of work out here and want it to be a safe place for people to come," says Morris.
Amphitheater owner Kim Morris says all serious violations will be corrected by Thursday. But Cinco de Mayo organizers have already made the decision to move their event. The amphitheater must also comply with lesser violations, submit building plans and facility permits.