Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Safety Forum Reviews Stage Law [Corrected 07/06/12] ; Fair Tragedy Carries Lessons

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Safety Forum Reviews Stage Law [Corrected 07/06/12] ; Fair Tragedy Carries Lessons

Article excerpt

Mary Bieber, an active community member, said she wants to ensure the Vanderburgh County Fair's stage is safe because her kids walk across it this year. Bieber attended a forum Thursday evening that addressed stage regulations because stage disasters in the past have hit close to home.

Bieber knew about 20 people who were on the ground when the stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed, killing seven people and injuring about two dozen, on August 13.

"Like everyone else, we never want to see anything terrible happen," Bieber said. "I spent a lot of that evening trying to find out, "Are they OK or not?"

More than 75 people attended the public educational forum - the first of its kind in the state - on outdoor stage and equipment safety hosted by the Vanderburgh County Fair Association at the county's 4-H Center Exposition Hall.

State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson, who gave a presentation and led a question-and-answer session, said after the collapse of the state fair stage, the Legislature in Indiana decided to take a step and do something to regulate outdoor stages.

"They passed Senate Bill 273 in legislation that required the fire prevention building safety commission, which establishes rules, to put in place emergency rules to regulate this outdoor stage equipment," Greeson said.

He explained the biggest change is the addition of emergency rules that regulate what is now called outdoor stage equipment.

"Outdoor stage equipment, in a real simple definition, is any rigging - speakers lights, wall boards - that are there to support the event, but are in no way attached to the stage," Greeson said. "And that's the key, that it is not in any manner attached to the stage; it's just independent."

Scott Berry, vice president of operations for Vanderburgh County Fair Board, said he felt Vanderburgh's stage, which has been used for over 20 years, was very safe, maybe safer than most other venues. However, the fair board chose to rent a certified stage from a company in Arkansas that had all approvals already with safety regulations. …

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