BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Knights of Columbus Haunted House that had been scheduled for Friday and Saturday evening has been canceled. Sources tell the Reporter that the Knights asked the Los Alamos County Fire Marshal’s office to perform an electrical inspection of the haunted house. Fire Marshal Colorado Cordova responded that it was determined that this type of operation would require a Temporary Use Permit issued by Los Alamos County. but that no application had been received by the County.
An email to the Knights of Columbus from Cordova said if an application had been received and reviewed by the Fire Marshal’s office, they would have been informed that a haunted house is defined as a “Special Amusement Area” under the International Fire Code, which has been adopted by the County. In the code, a special amusement area would need to be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. Cordova attached a copy of the relevant code for reference.
“Currently your haunted house area is greater than 1,000 square feet and cannot be approved, even if you did have the Temporary Use Permit. In the future we will be more than willing to work with you and ensure that you stay within the code requirements for the safety of every individual from staff to the youngest child walking through the haunted house. Again, I want to thank you for your call requesting an electrical safety inspection, which demonstrates your awareness, diligence and the commitment to the safety of the community,” Cordova’s email said.
Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Marco Lucero said Friday afternoon that the Knights are very disappointed that the event had to be canceled. He said the haunted house had been held for many years before the COVID epidemic and every year they would call the Fire Marshal’s office to come and inspect the hall where the events took place.
“We never had to apply for a permit before. About 18 manhours have been put into preparing the haunted house. What we are most disappointed about is that the haunted house raises funds to help disadvantaged people in the community. It provides a fun and safe place for kids to come and get spooked and grab some candy with their families,” Lucero said.
LAFD Deputy Chief Wendy Servey told the Reporter that the County does not have an electrical inspector on staff so the state would have had to inspect the haunted house. She said the Knights did not allow enough time to get it all done or even apply for permits to do so.
Probably the most disappointed of all might be Fred and Annie Garcia who have been the mainstays of the annual event for more than 10 years.