This year's Mifflin Street Block Party promises a big turnout as students gear up to rub shoulders with 20,000 of their closest friends.

Saturday's event essentially sets up a situation where thousands of partygoers can filter in and out of one house during one afternoon.

The issue of overcrowding is a concern to city officials and its fire department, who believe the influx of people coming to the annual block party creates clear potential hazards.

As a precaution, city inspectors have been checking porches of houses in the Mifflin Street area to ensure the porches can handle the crowds of people that gather there during the party.

"Because we know there'll be a crowd, we've been inspecting decks for the last few years," Thomas Adamowicz, a city housing inspection lead worker, said. "We've been doing this for a number of years, and this year we did it again."

Adamowicz said city inspectors examined porches of houses on the 400 and 500 blocks of Mifflin Street, and the nearby areas of Broom Street, Bedford Street and Bassett Street.

But unlike previous years, none of the porches this year had serious problems, according to Adamowicz.

"There were no major issues," he said. "We found a number of loose handrails but nothing too bad."

Because most of the houses on Mifflin Street are nearly a century old, city officials feel it is important to check the structural status of the porch to avoid serious injuries.

Adamowicz said problems found in the past have included rotting beams, holes in the porch, and other general structural errors.

Such hazards can lead to porch collapses with the proper amount of weight.

"If you have a porch with forty people and it's not designed to hold that many, there are going to be some problems," Adamowicz noted.

And while a collapse has not happened at the Mifflin Street Block Party, the city's fire department is making sure the trend continues.

"We want to prevent something tragic like [a porch collapse] from happening," said Madison Fire Department Public Information Office Eric Dahl. "We're trying to educate the people ahead of time."

If city inspectors do find problems with a house porch, they inform the owners of the house to make the appropriate repairs before the party.

"We've always had good compliance [with the owners]," Adamowicz noted. "We did it with enough time to make emergency repairs, too."

The crowds on Mifflin Street during the party are always a concern for the fire department, Dahl said.

Overcrowding during the party raises two concerns, according to Dahl. There is the potential of a porch collapse, and the potential of blocked exits in case of a fire or emergency.

Dahl said capacity is dealt with on a case-by-case basis with the inspectors, and speculated capacity is decided after looking at the house type, the number of rooms and the number of exits.

The lack of serious problems allowed the city inspectors to finish quickly, Adamowicz added.

While inspectors have looked over the houses, Dahl suggested residents clean up the area and recheck their property before Saturday.

"From the fire department standpoint, we feel comfortable with the way things are right now," Dahl said. "We'll be looking forward to another safe party."