After the fire that killed dozens in Oakland, we’ve put this video together to illustrate some of the basics of fire safety. Please watch and share, and continue your education with the links below.
A quick note given the spate of evictions in warehouse communities this week: my event organizer friends are some of the most competent individuals there are. Artists need places to live, the world needs artists and art needs artist spaces. Evictions are not the answer.
We recommend assigning at least one person to be in charge of fire safety at your event. This person should:
- Do a walk-through three days beforehand, checking equipment and replacing anything that’s broken.
- Develop an emergency plan: shutting down the music and evacuating people
- In the event of an emergency, evacuate people by yelling loudly and scanning the space for guests.
1) Unobstructed exits
- Each room should have two ways out. Don’t use the spaces with fewer than two ways out, and especially keep bars and dance floors away from them.
- Don’t overcrowd rooms. Even if you have 4 exits, packing a room tightly might mean there’s not enough time to exit in case of a fire.
- Keep the exits, paths to the exits, doors, and gates (inside and outside) clear.
2) Exit signs
- Buy exit signs with internal batteries so they work if the power goes out.
- Test them and get new batteries if they don’t work.
3) Smoke alarms
- Rule of thumb: one every 900 ft²
- Especially important in areas that will be unoccupied, so you’re alerted if a fire starts in a room.
- Buy the ones with 10-year batteries.
- Test them before the party.
4) Fire extinguishers
- Rule of thumb: one every 3000 ft²
- Check their expiration date and pressure gauge
- Place them in prominent locations in case of an emergency.
- Once per year, turn them upside down and tap them.
5) Flammable objects
- Fewer flammable objects
- Keep anything flammable far away from flame
- Use LED lights instead of real candles
- Minimize paper decorations, paper cups
- Use fabric that is less flammable
6) Electrical safety is complex. Take the time to study it in-depth, or bring on an expert. Some resources:
- Electrical Safety Checklist (New Zealand government)
- Electrical Safety Checklist (Brazos County fire department)
None of this information replaces consulting with a professional safety expert to evaluate your building. This guide is focused on DIY improvements, but renovations to the space such as adding sprinklers and double doors with panic bars will make a huge impact on safety.
Some additional resources:
- National Fire Protection Association, a nonprofit focusing on preventing harm from fire, electrical and related hazards offering its codes, standards, and educational resources for free.
- A DIY guide to fire harm reduction for venues, originally created by S.Surface and currently being crowd-developed and edited.
- A guide by the UK government to assessing and reducing fire risk at open air events and venues.
- An extensive guide to home fire safety put together by the Red Cross
- Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program and Database, a nonprofit created to stop juvenile firesetting, particularly useful for its numerous tools and resources specifically designed for children and teens in different age groups
- Tips on what to do during a fire, prevention, and products that reduce fire risk from SafeWise.com
Joseph Pred, Emergency & Risk Manager
Former Emergency Services Operations Chief, Burning Man
Co-Founder, Permission Granted
Thanks to everyone who made this video possible on such short notice:
Director/Producer – Michael Morgenstern
Producer/Camera/Gaffer – Whitney Freedman
Camera – Dylan Love
Sound Recordist – Jon Sadrgilany
Production Assistant – Mark Rossetti
Also Featuring – Gaige Qualmann
Equipment Donation – Vanessa Carr, JMS
Editor – Chu-Chun Tao
Motion Graphics – Dillon Petrillo
Icon Design: Jeremy Yingling
Additional Animation: Adam J. Richman
Sound Editor & Mixer – Tyler Hafer
Sound by Disher Sound
TR Lingley, licensed electrical contractor
Gerard Dsushi, firefighter
Carlos Barrera, fire cause and origin investigator
Nicki Jo Davis, former firefighter
And thank you to Dave Davila & Michael Snook, Sena Koleva, Joshua Goldbard, Ethan Currens, Beau Gaerlan, Joanna Miller, Erik Peterson, Zachary Reiss-Davis, and Anne Gomez.
Created by Michael Morgenstern