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Monday, April 23, 2012

Stage Collapse - "Trying to set a safer stage: Fair and festival organizers await new rules prompted by State Fair tragedy"

A long, very informative story today from Maureen Hayden, CNHI, in the New Albany News & Tribune. Here are some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS — State officials charged with making outdoor stage concerts safer for patrons are engaged in a balancing act: They’re trying to write rules to prevent another tragedy like the one at last year’s State Fair without over-regulating small town festivals and county fairs.

The legal staff at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security is drafting new emergency rules that would cover the kind of temporary stage rigging that collapsed at the State Fair last August, killing seven people attending a Sugarland concert.

The new emergency rules, triggered by legislation carried by state Sen. Tim Lanane, a Democrat from Anderson, won't just cover the State Fair grounds; they’ll cover other outdoor venues that use similar equipment, including some county fairs and festivals.

Exactly what those rules will look like, and how expensive they’ll be to follow, is still unknown. They’ll require inspections of the kind of equipment rigging structure that collapsed at the State Fair, and may require event organizers to pay for an engineer-designed and approved plan for those structures.

Homeland Security officials hope to have a draft of the emergency rules by early May so fair and festival organizers around the state will know what they’re facing when those rules go into effect July 1. * * *

The legislation authored by Lanane set up a summer study committee to come up with permanent rules for regulating the kind of stage rigging that collapsed last August at the State Fair after high wind gusts blew through the fairgrounds.

The legislation also set up a process for emergency rule-making, giving the Fire and Building Safety Commission authority to pass new regulations that can be put into place temporarily. The commission will hold public hearings on the emergency rules. * * *

Lanane acknowledged the emergency rules may appear to some to be rushed into place, but he said the process allows them to be reviewed and modified if needed. “The reality is there wasn’t an adequate inspection process in place before,” Lanane said. “We don’t want to risk a repeat of what happened last year at the State Fair.”

ILB: The new law discussed in the story is SEA 273. The emergency rule provision is found at p. 5 of the PDF version of the new law.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 23, 2012 02:33 PM
Posted to Stage Collapse