News & Politics

The Trump Campaign's Long History of Blaming Fire Marshals

The Trump Campaign's Long History of Blaming Fire Marshals
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures while speaking at a rally at Macomb Community College, Friday, March 4, 2016, in Warren, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

On Monday, Donald Trump complained about a Democrat fire marshal allegedly turning people away from his rally for political reasons. He called this “politics at its lowest.”

This was only the most recent example of the Trump campaign’s many tussles with fire code regulations. The Donald’s campaign draws large crowds, overbooks venues, and then complains when fire marshals turn people away.

Trump seemingly intends to crowd too many people into a short space to give the impression of a packed house, while leaving many out in the cold. For those, he has the perfect villain: the fire marshal.

Here are ten instances where The Donald, or his campaign, pointed to fire marshals or fire codes to explain why people were not allowed into his events.

1. Phoenix, AZ, in July 2015.

In his biggest early campaign event, with approximately 5,000 people, Trump declared, “This is unbelievable. This began as 500 people in a ballroom in Phoenix.”

The campaign was asked to move to a larger venue to accommodate the thousands who wanted tickets, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN. She said 15,000 tickets were distributed for the event, while the venue only had the capacity to hold 4,200 people. Despite overbooking the venue, the campaign said thousands were turned away because of fire regulations.

2. Exeter, NH, on February 4, 2016.

At a New Hampshire event in February, the Trump campaign turned reporters away due to a lack of space. Again, it blamed the fire marshall. Here is The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank:

Next Page: Video of Trump complaining about fire marshals — in February!

3. Madison, AL, on February 28, 2016.

“Why is there a fire hazard when you’re standing outside?” asked an irate Trump, pointing a finger at the fire marshals for not allowing more people to attend his event. “My best friends have become fire marshals, because every time we go to a place we need fire marshals, but usually it’s on the inside of a building. Even there, I say do me a favor, let the people in,” The Donald confided. “How the hell can you have a problem? We’re outside — there’s no building — we’re outside! Let them in, Mr. fire marshal, whoever you are, let them come in!” Trump said some 32,000 people had come to hear him speak, while local estimates put the number closer to 10,000.


4. Orlando, FL, on March 5, 2016.

“The fire marshal — you know we have thousands of people outside, we’ve lost about ten thousand people they’ve had to leave, we still have thousands of people,” The Donald declared. He praised the police, saying, “They’re gonna try and let a few hundred people come right up here.”

5. Eugene, OR, in May 2016.

At the Eugene convention center, Trump spoke to around 5,000 supporters, close to capacity, according to the Occidental Observer. The Donald argued that many more outside were prevented from getting in due to fire regulations. “What are they worried about? It’s a cement floor. It’s not going to burn. Let ’em in,” Trump declared, to cheers.

Next Page: Trump changes his tune, blaming fire marshals for letting too many people in.

6. Houston, TX, in June 2016.

According to the Houston Chronicle, many people were turned away from a Trump rally after waiting “for hours in muggy 90-degree heat.” When people were turned away, Trump attributed it to fire regulations.

7. Phoenix, AZ, on July 12, 2016.

On this occasion, Trump blamed the fire marshal — for letting too many people in!

As The Washington Post reported, those numbers far overestimated the count his campaign gave reporters at the event: between 4,200 and 4,500, or with the fire department’s estimate, which fell in the middle of that range.

“Once capacity was reached, we closed the doors,” Phoenix Fire Department spokeswoman Shelly Jamison said. “No rules or codes were broken, and no one was in danger at anytime.”

Jamison said the Trump campaign had been offered the use of a larger room, but declined.

Next Page: Roanoke, Virginia, and Colorado Springs, Colorado — two in the last week!

8. Roanoke, VA, on July 25, 2016.

“Outside we have a lot of people and I wish they’d let them in, the fire department won’t let them in because of the fire regulation which is sad because they’re outside,” Trump declared, according to the CNN transcript. “We have speakers out there, I think the speakers are burning up, folks. It is hot.”

“I wish the fire marshal, where is the fire marshal? Is he around here?” The Donald asked. “Come on, fire marshal. If they could get in fire marshal. You know you have doors that go right out to the outside, I promise there’s nothing like you don’t have a problem.”

The Roanoke Times reported that the fire marshal did indeed relax the rules and let more people into the ballroom where the event was being held. Then Trump told the hotel it should be “ashamed” of the temperature in the room, “as if all that body heat didn’t contribute something to the warmth of the room.”

9. Colorado Springs, CO, on July 29,2016.

This may be the most egregious story. Donald Trump was late to his speech in Colorado Springs last week — because he was trapped in an elevator with his campaign staff for about half an hour. Guess who rescued them? The fire department.

“The firefighters were able to secure the elevator, open the top elevator hatch, lower a ladder into the elevator, which allowed all individuals to self-evacuate, including Mr. Trump, onto the second-floor lobby area,” fire spokesman Steven Wilch said.

Mere minutes later, during his speech, Trump attacked a member of that same fire department. “We have a fire marshal that said we can’t allow more people,” The Donald declared, to boos from the crowd. “The reason they can’t let them in is because they don’t know what they’re doing.” He added, “This is why our country doesn’t work. … And then you wonder why we’re going to hell.”

Not every fire marshal is a member of the fire department, but Fire Marshal Brett Lacey is. Trump said he was “probably a Democrat, probably a guy that doesn’t get it.”

Next Page: Trump calls a special press conference, just to attack the fire marshal!

10. Columbus, OH, on August 1, 2016.

Even before kicking off his town hall event on Monday, Trump gathered reporters to attack the fire marshal. “He ought to be ashamed of himself,” Trump said of the fire marshal. “They turned away thousands of people.”

The Donald insisted that the marshal turned away supporters “purely for political reasons.”

“They said in this massive building you’re not allowed to have any more than a thousand people. And that’s nonsense. We could have had four, five, six thousand people,” Trump insisted. “That’s politics at its lowest. You ought to check it out, but it’s really politics at its lowest. C’mon let’s go have a good time.”

The Columbus Fire Department rejected his accusations, insisting it was simply ensuring the event’s safety.

“All I can tell you is the venue’s set up for 1,000 people, and I think there was just a big misunderstanding is what it was,” Assistant Columbus Fire Chief Jim Cannell told CNN. “There was a thousand people in here and once we reach capacity we can’t let any more people in.”

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