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Planning Fire Safety for Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

The potential dangers of fires breaking out at a crowded event always needs to be taken seriously. Festival organisers should ensure their event planning includes the provision for fire prevention and safety that complies with any prevailing regulations as well as reassuring all site visitors that their safety is a prime concern. 

As part of any premises licence application process, it is essential that organisers conduct discussions with all local emergency services. This will include the local fire service who will often be required to make inspections and approval for all fire prevention measures. The result of these discussions will often form part of the licence application and clearly detail how any concerns have been addressed along with robust procedures should something go wrong.

Risk Assessment. 
A formal risk assessment is a requirement of meeting health and safety regulations and an essential part of obtaining licenses for the event to proceed. A professional risk assessment can be commissioned from an external specialist and is preferable to attempting to conduct one internally. The assessment will include the identification of potential hazards, areas, and people at risk. In addition, the assessment should make clear recommendations on the placement of the necessary equipment for protection. Camping areas can be a concern as many festival-goers like to cook themselves but tent materials can be extremely flammable. Most assessments will recommend the complete prohibition of open flame cooking in camping areas and organisers should put in place monitoring procedures by site stewards to ensure compliance with this. The risk assessment may also make recommendations on evacuation routes on a festival site and organisers should ensure that these routes are clearly marked and signposted on-site. 

Classes of Fire. 
Its preferable for festival organisers and staff have a good understanding of the classes of fire as the methods for dealing with them can vary and the following classifications are used internationally.  

Class A - the most common type of fire likely to happen on a festival site where combustible materials like paper, wood, rubber, or fabrics catch fire. These fire outbreaks can be handled by using either water or foam-based fire extinguishers. 

Class B - more likely to occur near generators, equipment and stages this class of fire involves flammable liquids like gas, oil, paint and gasses.  This class of fire requires more sophisticated fire extinguishers that use CO2 or chemical based foam.

Class C - specifically fires caused by electrical faults and on a festival site will probably be located where live electrical equipment is used including generators, transformers and audio/visual equipment. As with Class B fires the most appropriate extinguishers to use are the Co2 / chemical-based type 

Class K - For food and beverage vendor areas of festival sites there can be risks of fires involving cooking appliances that use vegetable oils or fats. The best extinguishers to use in these cases are known as wet chemical fire extinguishers that use a low pH agent to prevent grease splashes and flare ups. 

Equipment Placement. 
The detailed risk assessment and services of a fire prevention specialist will recommend the placement of necessary fire extinguishers. Placement around stage and equipment areas is always a high priority due to the high volume of electrical equipment. Any covered spaces and tents where large volumes of festival-goers congregate will require numerous placements of extinguishers. The other potential high risk fire hazards are around the food and beverage vendors with possibly one extinguisher for every pitch. 

It is essential that all festival staff and volunteers receive appropriate training on fire prevention and the correct use of extinguishers. Having appointed fire marshals is often a requirement of license approval too. Finally ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of the designated evacuation routes for all site visitors should a fire break out. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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