I remember reading a news story about some people in Arizona that were recently harased/fined/jailed for hosting prayer services in a building on their property by the local government. The government's argument is that the building that the family was holding the services in wasn't zoned for the meetings or something along those lines (you guys probably have a better idea about this stuff than I do ect. ect...). The counter point to that is that as long as the people attending the services/meetings are aware of the situation then they should be free to assume the risks while on private property. They aren't putting the public in general at any risk of harm so, why should the government have any say in what goes on in someone's home? In my humble opinion, that is the epitome of government over-reach.
When governments creates rules, such as zoning, occupancy rating, mandatory fire exists, sprinkler heads spacing, fireproofing, etc. its based through forensic studies of previous incidents to determine the series of events leading to this. I have read discourses between the NYC Fire Department and the NYC Building Department on potential rules. Both sides have arguments for different requirements based on their experience (ie, the Fire Department usually have better practical information, while the Building Department usually supplies the theoretical backing). These studies and amendments can go through years of review and analysis before EVEN becoming a beta draft.
No where is the lay person involved in those discourses. They can't, because they are too busy with their own lives to be part of it. The government supports the FDNY and DOB for purposes like that, to go through the extensive process.
An owner, organizer, planner, or anyone that deals with other people or other people's property has three options:
(1) Sit down with ever potential patron, discuss the engineering history of the building, the theories behind fire safety in regards to fire protection and what possible protections they can undertake, ways of egress that will be most efficient in an emergency, etc. In addition, they must all, together, plan a course of action in the situation that someone gets hurt; such as having someone wait outside with a mode of transportation that will carry him to a knowledgeable person for care.
2) Get a committee of knowledgeable people to do this.
3) Don't do any of that.
(1) is not practical at all. (2) is government. (3) is inhumane and irresponsible.
My point in that is this: How well, compared to the FDNY or DOB, does the owner of that building understand the risk they are taking? Furthermore, how well is the owner capable of communicating those risks to the people. And lastly, how well are people with balancing risk in fields they have little information in?
I for one DO have time to study this. I do not have time to study where my food comes from. I therefore have to trust in another entity to do it for me.*
*and no way am I going to trust a private firm that has to balance thoroughness with profit.