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State Approves New Regulations For Temporary Stages

A stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair Saturday prior to a performance by the country music duo Sugarland.

A state board Wednesday approved new rules for outdoor stage equipment. The changes aim to prevent another event like last year’s State Fair stage collapse.

The state Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission approved rules that will, for the first time, require outdoor stage equipment – that is any structures not attached to the stage — to be designed to safety specifications and inspected by the state Fire Marshal’s office.

Temporary stages have always been regulated. But Commission chairman David Hannum says if the new rules had been in place last year, the State Fair collapse might have been prevented.

“The design of the system in place was not up to the codes we are referencing as now the minimum standard,” he says.

Part of the new rules require certified engineers to oversee the design and construction of outdoor stage equipment…something that can be costly to small events operating on tight budgets. Hannum says the Commission has provided ways to avoid that requirement, only requiring structures higher than 20 feet off the ground to be regulated.

“If you assure that the public is kept completely safe, so that there’s no public allowed in the fall zone of anything you put overhead,” he says.

All structures, regardless of height, will still be subject to inspection by the Fire Marshal’s office.

The new rules also require venues to notify the Fire Marshal’s office of their events 14 days in advance and submit emergency response and evacuation plans.

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