Protecting the crowds – fire protection for large scale events

By Mark Gowans, managing director, Wormald ANZ

Planning a large scale event takes a lot of effort.  In addition to ensuring the smooth running of the event itself, organisers also need to carefully consider public safety.

I’m sure we’ve all been to concerts, sporting events or even local festivals where we were unaware of the lengths that event organisers have to go to to ensure public and participant safety.  They have the responsibility of developing a safety plan to ensure suitable safety equipment and procedures are in place.

Of course, fire protection is an important part of any safety plan.  When talking about fire protection for large scale events some of the considerations include the size and type of event, whether the venue is indoor or outdoor, fixed or temporary, the size and density of the expected crowd, as well as the type of equipment or machinery being used.

New Zealand proudly hosted the Rugby World Cup last year and fortunately the event went very smoothly.  Wormald played a small part in helping protect the rugby fanatics attending matches in the newly refurbished Eden Park Stadium in Auckland– as part of the refurbishment we installed a fire protection solution at the Stadium which included fire extinguishers, sprinkler and hydrant systems and an advanced alarm system that allowed for a wide scope of control.

New Zealand’s next major event will be the ITM400, part of the V8 Supercars Championship, which will take place in Hamilton from April 20th to 22nd 2012.  The V8 Championship is a high powered event and organisers know that being prepared for an emergency is absolutely essential.

Wormald has been a sponsor of the Hamilton Championship since the inaugural event in 2007 and we are excited to be part of the event again this year.  The Wormald team is working very closely with event organisers to carefully assess the risks and identify the most appropriate fire protection solution.  As part of the sponsorship agreement, we have supplied over 250 fire extinguishers for use throughout the race track and corporate hospitality tents.  The fire extinguishers are a mixture of alcohol resistant foam units and dry chemical units – the alcohol resistant foam extinguishers are specifically required for this type of event as the fuel used in the cars is a blend of ethanol and high octane petrol.

Large scale events can pose significant risks to public safety but with a careful safety plan in place these risks can be minimised.  If you’re holding an event, no matter what size, I would recommend you consult a fire protection specialist and make sure you are prepared.

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