Public safety collides with public safety at convention-center entrance during gaming show

A front door that security officials at the South Boston convention center locked to better secure the facility during the Pax East show in April got the convention-center authority hauled before the Boston Licensing Board today because police said it would have impeded people getting out in an emergency.

Although the convention center has numerous exits, BPD licensing detectives told the board today that during an inspection on April 7, in the middle of the popular gaming convention, they found a large crowd of people standing near a shut revolving door at the front, trying to get out.

The door, which was both locked and duct taped, with a stanchion in front of it, had been shut to help funnel people trying to get into the convention through metal detectors, authority attorney Dennis Quilty said. And that was because city, state and federal law-enforcement agencies had declared the event, which brings tens of thousands of gaming fans to Boston, a high-security event, he said.

"That door could have been opened by a child in a second," Quilty said, adding "there were plenty of staff nearby if anything occurred" - including a security guard with a key for the door. And, in fact, at the request of two licensing detectives, staff re-opened the door.

But as he was saying that, BPD Det. Daniel MacDonald was shaking his no. MacDonald said it took "forever" - more specifically, about ten minutes - for somebody on the security staff to locate the door's key. And even after they found the key, a guard had trouble getting it to open the door.

MacDonald added the door appeared to be shut not to funnel people towards the metal detectors but because somebody had run an extension cord through it to power the detectors. "You would think they'd have a power source out there" that wouldn't require an extension cord, let alone one that meant shutting a door.

The licensing board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take.

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Comments

Wow - the stupid is strong here!

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What could possibly go wrong ... uh ... no way to know considering that Boston has never had a situation involving an emergency evacuation and locked doors and any of that ...

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And that was because city,

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And that was because city, state and federal law-enforcement agencies had declared the event, which brings tens of thousands of gaming fans to Boston, a high-security event, he said.

It's so weird how both PAX and Anime Boston, weird niche events for "nerds" and 'outcasts" and "weirdos", have all these metal detectors and security requirements, and multi thousand conferences and conventions for dentists and wedding planning and other "normal people" have nary a stanchion to be seen.

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Yeah, that's definitely the

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Yeah, that's definitely the excuse given by the MCCA, but considering all the news articles about randos wanting to come in from out of state to shoot all kinds of people at all sort of events, it's still curious how these rules ONLY apply to nerd cons.

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That might have something to

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That might have something to do with scale: a 25,000-person event will get more attention, good and bad, than a 5000-person one. (That's rounding up slightly for both Anime Boston and Arisia.)

A large part of the American (and maybe human) security model is "don't let it happen again." That seems to include an assumption that if one person or group threatens to do something, and is stopped, other people might be out there with the exact same idea.

(A general discussion of security theater will not fit in the margins ofis beyond the scope of this comment section, but for anyone who isn't familiar with that phrase, look up Bruce Schneier.)

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Biggest Convention Boston Has?

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It's in fact 100,000 per day for four days for PAX East, using every square inch of the convention center. Not sure if there are any larger ones than that in Boston.

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Oh man

Where to start?

“Weird” niche events? Just because you’re not into something doesn’t make it weird. I’m sure many at these events would say the same about Sox or Celtics games–which also make heavy use of metal detectors and generally have significant security (not all, but many of these “weird need conventions” also draw more people then Fenway or the Garden may on a given weekend). Hell, when’s the last time you’ve been to the House of Blues?

I’ve probably been to individual panels at Boston Comic Con with more attendees than some of these “normal” niche conventions, and I’m sure scale (and believe it or not, relevance and popularity) have an impact as well.

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I was using weird as a self

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I was using weird as a self descriptor - been in the scene a really long time, long enough to notice the differences between how agencies like the MCCA and city treat weebs and gamers and cosplayers, even though our money is just as good as anyone elses.

The metal detectors were also instituted at AB right after the bombings, and had nothing to do with the pokemon threats until suddenly that was a "reason" to keep it going.

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it's presumably because of

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it's presumably because of all the cosplay that goes on during both Pax East and Anime Boston. people bring loads of items to go along with their costumes including faux weapons and things large enough to hide actual weapons. whereas it would be easier to spot a large package that needed to be inspected at say the dentist's convention.

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Frankly I'm surprised the

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Frankly I'm surprised the licensing board has the authority for this, seeing as the MCCA is a state agency, no?

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Doesn't matter in something

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Doesn't matter in something like this.

The local inspection/safety agencies have some enforcement authority in stuff like this.

Several years ago (longer than I care to think about), I did some temp work and did some packing & moving (business relocations). We were moving some state agency (executive branch) from temp space into newly-renovated space in a state-owned building. Much to our surprise, the next day - we were moving them back out! Turns out someone had pulled the trigger on the move before Boston Fire Dept had done final inspections of smoke detectors or sprinklers or something, so the occupancy permit hadn't been issued!

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I worked that show last year

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The organizers of the event itself (as opposed to Convention Center security) seemed to be completely overboard about floor security.

The show was over, and I was taking gear down. I went to a bathroom that was only accessible from the show floor, and they almost didn't let me back on to the floor because I didn't have a show pass.

I've never worked any other show at the BCEC that was even remotely that nutty. And I can tell you that the BCEC security staff can be plenty nutty even on an average day.

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A revolving door should not be used as a fire exit

While this is a serious violation that should be corrected, nobody should use a revolving door to leave a building during an emergency. This was one reason so many people died in the Cocoanut Grove fire.

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Special designs

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There are special designs required for large buildings where the doors are collapsible.

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And heaven help you if you

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And heaven help you if you are stuck between the collapsible panels because the fleeing mob is going to crush you to death.

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True.

There are exceptions. Notice that most buildings with revolving doors have doors to either side. Those are the legally- recognized fire exits. They might be locked from outside, but have crash bars on the inside to override any locking system.
I think there are designs where the 'revolving' part can just open as an unimpeded exit.
If you are in an emergency situation and you see an exit sign, even if it's a revolving door, there will be approved exit doors in the immediate vicinity. If not, then it ain't up to code.

If a door requires staff with a key to open it, it's a life safety hazard and does not qualify as a legal emergency egress.

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Visiting family last

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Visiting family last Christmas, we went to see whichever blockbuster of the season at the local Cineplex.

I went to one of the last shows of the evening and ended up dropping a dime on them to the local fire department the next morning. Several of the glass doors from the lobby to the outside were locked - even when you pressed on the bar from the inside!!!

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How could a child have opened

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How could a child have opened the door in a second, when a large crowd of people there for a convention devoted to simulations of RUNNING AROUND IN MAZES DEALING WITH PROBLEMS couldn't figure it out?

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