Maintaining Fire and Emergency Protection at Large Venue Events

Fire and emergency personnel must be involved in event planning, training and safety enforcement of large venues.

Communications should be maintained from the command post and information should be regularly disseminated throughout the command structure of the event. Radio frequencies should be utilized that are common to all event personnel and radio communications should utilize clear text to eliminate the possible confusion of 10-codes.

Sport Teams and other Support Personnel
Hazards exist to sport teams, participants, athletes and other support personnel involved and participating in the event. Often these personnel are oblivious to hazards that may affect them or their fellow teammates. Emergency personnel are often chastised or treated with great disrespect by these persons and the arrogance, ignorance and bigotry often pose great challenges to rescue crews. Arguments and confrontations should be avoided with these individuals as much as possible and rescue personnel should attempt to create contacts and alliances with the sanctioning bodies or promoters of events. These alliances can be used during times of conflict to encourage participants to follow safety rules and play nice.

Another way to attempt to overcome issues occurring with athletes and sport teams is to arrange meetings with them months prior to the event and explain reasons for safety policies and procedures. From these meetings partnerships and friendships can be made. Often times communication issues and a lack of understanding on both sides create problems at the event. Meetings before the event allow all involved parties to explain their sides of conflicts and happy mediums can be made thus avoiding confrontations at the event.

The handling of flammable and combustible liquids, fire effects, pyrotechnics and other event specific special effects should be permitted and inspected by code enforcement personnel. Credentials of all technicians involved should be checked and any required federal, state or local government licenses should be verified before a permit is issued. A thorough investigation of how effects are to be ignited, the intended use, duration and fire extinguishment procedures should be conducted. If necessary, fire personnel should be staged with fire extinguishing equipment to extinguish any fires resulting from effects.

Any events that pose rescue and impact hazards to participants such as auto racing, monster truck competitions, motor cross or other type of vehicle-related events should be properly planned. Fire and emergency personnel should be properly trained in the safety procedures of what locations to enter the track or field and under what conditions. Personnel should also be properly equipped with the necessary extrication tools, communications equipment, personnel protective equipment and knowledge needed to safely shut down any vehicle and rapidly rescue the driver or rider.

Venue Hazards and Inspections
At times the age of the building, theater, coliseum, grandstands or stadium creates hazards to occupants. Advancements in building and fire codes throughout the years without retrofit requirements have left many of the venues with a hodgepodge of fire protection, exit access and discharge routes, kitchens and concession cooking and serving methods. (The author's jurisdiction has a venue that was built in the 1960's with numerous additions and remodels throughout the years - all creating an enforcement nightmare.) Many times code officials are forced to enforce regulations by the building/fire codes that were in effect at the time of construction. This often times leads to confusion and creates confrontations with venue owners and concession operators at the time of events.

The venue should undergo fire and life safety inspections at regular intervals. All violations and deficiencies should be corrected prior to any event. Areas such as fire lanes, exit access corridors, doors and exit discharges, occupant seating and aisles, food concessions, kitchens and service areas, fire protection systems and alarms, and electrical/HVAC rooms should be focused on along with any other venue specific areas, systems or conditions. During events these same areas should be checked to maintain code compliance. Many times these same areas become tampered with, obstructed, altered or damaged, cluttered or hazardous during events. Any conditions found by code personnel should be immediately corrected or rectified. Props, backdrops, scenery and other associated equipment should be inspected for flame resistance and placement during use and storage. These items cannot be allowed to be stored or potentially block paths of egress. Fines and penalties if necessary should be assessed after the event has ended.