FRONT of HOUSE — June 2012
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Indiana Now Requiring Stage Structure Inspections, Emergency Plans

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission unanimously approved new regulations on temporary staging May 2 that went into effect May 3. The regulations, which followed the April 12 release of two state-commissioned reports on the deadly staging collapse at the Indiana State Fair last summer, mandate engineer-approved rigging plans and detailed emergency plans.

Although the new rules let smaller event organizers bypass the regulations by keeping fans away from the stage — the distance for this “buffer zone” would be the height of the rigging, plus eight feet — larger operators are not taking any chances.

One of five stages set up to entertain racing fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) during the Indianapolis 500 in late May was quickly replaced on short notice after safety inspectors deemed it noncompliant. The privately-built stage lacked the required technical documentation showing how the structure would be able to support the weight of gear it was loaded with in high winds.

A near-riot in Buffalo, NY further illustrated the risks that event organizers face even if they do cancel an event in bad weather. An unruly crowd damaged folding chairs when they threw them at the stage in frustration after Eric Church’s appearance at WYRK’s Taste of Country festival was called of due to worsening weather on June 1. Organizers, who cancelled the event for fear that high winds might destabilize the stage structure, are now working out the details of a makeup show, which would be free to anyone still holding a valid ticket to the original event.