- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 30, 2016

The longtime fire marshal of Colorado Springs, Colorado defended his decision to limit the number of people allowed to attend a speech delivered by Donald Trump on Friday after being berated by the Republican candidate for president multiple times during the hour-long address.

Brett Lacey has served as fire marshal of Colorado Springs since 1998, and said he agreed to raise the number of people allowed inside the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Gallogly Events from 1,500 to 1,650 after being contacted ahead of Mr. Trump’s speech Friday afternoon.

“I did get a phone call requesting an increase in the load, so we allowed a 10 percent increase,” Mr. Lacey told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “That’s not a huge amount, but it allowed 150 more in the one building and 100 more in the other.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump opened and closed his speech by attacking the city’s top safety official for not allowing more people to attend.

“This is why our country doesn’t work,” the Republican candidate prefaced his hour-long address. “We have thousands of people in a room next door. We have plenty of space here. We have thousands of people outside trying to get in. And we have a fire marshal that said, ‘Oh, we can’t allow more people.’”

“The reason they won’t let them in is because they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, that’s why,” Mr. Trump said. “Maybe they’re a Hillary person, could that be possible? Probably. I don’t think there’s too many of them.”

The GOP hopeful went on to describe the situation as “disgraceful,” and compared the fire marshal’s regulations with the way the U.S. government operates.

“This is the kind of thing we have in federal government also, by the way, folks. Then you wonder why we’re going to hell. That’s why we’re going to hell. You know what it is? It’s a thought process, right,” Mr. Trump said before delivering the bulk of his address.

An hour later, Mr. Trump revisited the topic before exiting the stage to meet supporters in an adjacent overflow room.

“Now because of your fire marshal, who I am not a fan of, he’s probably a Democrat, probably a guy than doesn’t get it, I’m going to go into the other room and say hello to people that didn’t get your location,” he said towards the end of his address.

Despite being multiple times during the presidential hopeful’s speech, Mr. Lacey stood by his decision when interviewed afterwards.

“We weren’t the ones that picked the venue. I would say it was just poor planning,” he told the Colorado Independent. “All the facilities in town, when they’re designed and built, they have an occupant load limit.”

“It doesn’t matter to me,” the fire marshal added to the Independent. “We’re just here to do the job.”

The college’s chancellor, Pam Shockley-Zalabak, told the Gazette that Mr. Trump’s campaign had signed a contract acknowledging the 1,500-personal capacity.

“The campaign handled all the ticketing and more tickets were issued than the space available,” she said.

According to the paper, an unidentified source familiar with the campaign’s plans said upwards of 10,000 tickets had been issued online for Mr. Trump’s address.

With regards to the candidate’s “Hillary person” quip, Mr. Lacey told the Independent that he is a registered voter, but declined to state his affiliation.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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