Inspect the unexpected: State fire marshall makes sure the only scare is the haunt

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INDIANAPOLIS — Well, it is spooky season but it’s also the season of precaution. FOX59 received an inside look at how a regular annual haunted house inspection goes at Indianapolis’ Hanna’s Haunted Acres.

We spoke to Indiana State Fire Marshal, Joe Tanasovich, about what the inspectors look for when they do their walkthroughs.

“This time of year there’s a lot of emphasis on haunted houses. So, meeting with the haunted house operators, making sure they have a safety plan, if the building is required to have a fire suppression system,” said Tanasovich.

Tanasovich said that inspectors normally find an issue but most of the time it can be fixed rather easily and quickly. He explained that he knows that building operators don’t have bad intentions, there is a lot of code and it can be difficult to keep up with.

“It’s common that we find something in every building that we walk into. But we work with them to address it, get it corrected, and make sure it’s safe for the public,” Tanasovich said.

Some of these that the inspectors look for include but are not limited to trip hazards, making sure there is an efficient exit every 50 feet, running smoke detectors, and lighted stairwells.

Tanasovich told us that they do have the authority to fine a location $250 per violation if the haunted house operators do not comply with the changes they need to make.

Now, the codes are regularly updated. Tanasovich said that the reason these codes are in place for haunted houses is due to an incident at Six Flags’ haunted castle in 1984.

The haunted castle caught fire and almost everyone inside the attraction did not make it out alive. Six Flags was said to have ignored any normal fire safety precautions even after being told to change things.

As of right now, new codes are being developed but operations are still be run under 2014 code.

Haunted houses are not allowed to operate until they have the specific codes in place. Safety is always number one and having fun is second.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security offered these tips to have a safe visit to a haunted house

  • Make sure the attraction has a permit showing it has been inspected and approved by IDHS.
  • Adequate lighting should be around doorways, walkways and any attractions.
  • Locate all exits before entering; all exits should be clearly marked.
  • Legitimate haunted houses should have numerous fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and sprinklers.
  • Do no run through a haunted house.
  • To report a problem, call 800-669-7362. 

For fun fall activities and destinations in central Indiana visit our website. To find out more about IDHS visit their website.

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