Temporary structures for events are a common preference in the current world. They do not only offer a conducive environment but also provide flexible circumstances that accommodate performances and interaction. These temporary structures are often hired from established companies who take care of the erecting and general maintenance throughout the event. In reference to a wedding event that took place on Saturday, June 6, 2009 in Windermire, FL on Lake Down this paper focuses on the need for safety measures during such events. The wedding was organized on open air with the tent erected by a major rental company. There were 1000 people in attendance. The legend pole of the venue is designed to withstand winds of up to 70mph. The installations were well done by the company and the equipments were of high quality. The company had a weather station that was meant to monitor the weather conditions that would alert the attendants in case of extreme conditions that would have put their lives at risk. Windermire had been experiencing a drought conditions but on this day, there were signs of an imminent storm. The storm hit the venue and lifted the tent off the ground with the legend pole being uplifted off its socket. The eventuality was the death of the bride’s grandfather after being hit by the pole and a young boy who was crushed to death by the outer edge of the tent.
The collapse of the tent would have been caused by the sudden change of weather conditions. The tent was erected under near drought conditions after which the event took place under stormy conditions. It could happen that the plans put in place did not take into concern unusual conditions like the storm that was unexpected. Though indirectly, the weather conditions on the previous day leading to the event played a part in this situation. The installers relied on the conditions of the day leading to the wedding day to set up the structures.
The National Building Regulations clearly define the requirement and conditions that must be adhered to in order to be allowed to put up such structures. These regulations state that the local authorities, property owner or event organizers are responsible for performing the inspection of the site and the viability of the equipments. These regulations are written by the American Institute of Architects and are available through their website http://www.aia.org/. The regulations can also be accessed from the local authorities Departments of Housing. The Emergency Management Service is tasked with the responsibility of checking the compliance of these structures and ensuring they fall within the guidelines of safety.
Had the inspection been carried out by the respective authorities, the effects of this disaster would have been reduced to an extent. Arguably, there would have been higher chances of avoiding the deaths as involving more person is in the discussion of the safety standards would have improved the chances of predicting the unforeseen circumstances. Practically, they could not have done much about preventing the storm from destroying the structures but prevention mechanisms and warnings would have saved the lives that were lost.
With proper prevention mechanisms discussed, the authorities and event organizers would have realized the importance of calling off the show in the event of any changes in weather that would have been considered to have risk on the lives and property around the venue. The Emergency Management Services determines the possible risks including those deemed very rare to avert such damages. In this case, despite just considering the quality the equipments, the organizers should have realized that there are forces of nature which would have caused losses. The presence of weather monitoring equipments was a quite an important measure that was not utilized by those involved. It should have given an indication that the prevailing weather conditions were not suitable for the event which would have necessitated the eviction of all guests around the place (Daugherty, H., Dalland, T., & Industrial Fabrics Association International, 1990).
The manufacture cannot be blamed for the accident because previously no such incidents had been reported with the company having used the same product for a long period of time. The company, event organizers and the local authorities concerned with housing and event management should bear the blame. They failed to implement to the letter the regulations governing the erection and maintenance of tents amidst the uncertainties of weather. The only reason the company can contact the manufacturer is to request them to offer them more advice on the conditions under which the tents cannot be used. They would also have requested the company to assess the venue so that they can determine whether there were possible quality concerns about their equipment which would have offered them a platform to improve on quality if at all required.
The organizers and the company should have each developed a risk assessment report based on the possibilities that may arise due to uncertainties of weather and other threats like fire. The risk assessment report would consider the severity of risks and the possible control measures. This would have put in place practical solutions where possible or either reduced the impacts to levels that would be considered acceptable under the National Building Regulations. The concerned stakeholders of the event should also monitor the structure in relation to the NBR risk table. If the risks are high, depending on the circumstances and environment, then the event should have been cancelled off. The venue should also have been located in an open space with no structures or vehicles surrounding it. Combustible material should also be kept at reasonable distances from the tent to avert possible fires which would have been triggered by some events around the venue. A clear exit should also be designed in an area of the tent that would have eased eviction efforts in case of an accident. A sign post for the exit should have been in place too (Swift, P. K., Collins, A. L., Brennan, I. C., & Health and Safety Laboratory, 1998).
The local authorities who inspect such structures and issue the go-ahead are responsible for the deaths. They did not efficiently perform their duties as expected to protect lives. On the other hand, in the event of failure of the local authorities, the event organizers and the company should not have compromised on safety measures. They would have discussed the possibilities of a hazard and called off the event especially with the clear signs of an impending change in weather on the morning of the fateful day.
Phase 2: Safety Brochure
Phase 3: The program
The Safety Brochure will be provided at the entry point. Before the scheduled time, the event organizers will hold a thirty minute safety seminar to sensitize the guests of risks and measures to take in the event of any unforeseen problems.
There will be a single designated entry and two exits. The directions labeled as EXITS will clearly guide you to the exact point where the two exits are.
No parking will be allowed in areas that are not designated as parking lots. There will be traffic guiders at the entry points who will control the packing in the designated area.
Children are expected to remain within their parents and guardians care at all times. Provide company to the children as they seek services while in and around the venue.
People are advised to keep off from seeking shelter under the trees or other structures that have been labeled as “NON-AUTHORISED AREAS”. Security personnel will treat defiance of these orders as ignorance.
The weather department personnel have the authority to call off the event in case of signs of bad weather that could be deemed disastrous.
Fire safety equipments have been inspected at placed in an easily accessible location adjacent o the venue.
Security personnel will be on the lookout for any abnormalities in weather power or any other objects deemed hazardous.
Daugherty, H., Dalland, T., & Industrial Fabrics Association International (1990). Guidelines for the design, fabrication & installation of rental pole tents. St. Paul, MN: Tent Rental Division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International.
Swift, P. K., Collins, A. L., Brennan, I. C., & Health and Safety Laboratory (1998). Factors affecting the load carrying capacity of ground anchors used to support temporary structures. Health and Safety Laboratory.
The American Institute of Architects (2013). The American Institute of Architects - AIA Homepage. Retrieved from http://www.aia.org/