Fatal disasters such as the Indiana State Fair 2011 stage collapse and the 2003 The Station nightclub fire clearly illustrate the need for “trained crowd managers” to prevent repeat catastrophes. A new training program endorsed by and available through the International Code Council at www.iccsafe.org/crowdmanager and the National Association of State Fire Marshals at www.firemarshals.org is aimed at making public gatherings safer by teaching event staff how to be better crowd managers. The program was unveiled in July at the NASFM annual conference.
Building and fire officials have the responsibility to require trained crowd managers in compliance with the International Fire Code, NFPA-101 the Life Safety Code, the NFPA-1 Fire Code and many local ordinances that address safety in public assembly occupancies, but have few choices about what training should be provided. These codes require trained crowd managers in public assemblies such as theaters, ballrooms, clubs and stadiums. The threshold for the requirement varies from 250 to 1,000 occupants.
“It’s important to understand that the code requirement doesn’t mean that business owners have to hire more people, rather, the idea is that existing employees can get training in crowd management to be code compliant,” said Jim Tidwell, principal at Tidwell Code Consulting and a veteran of the Fort Worth, Texas, Fire Department who rose to the rank of chief. “This affordable training program will enhance public safety and provide a clear path to code compliance.”
ICC and NASFM will offer the training webinar on their websites. The course costs only $19.95. The crowd manager training program was developed using industry standards, subject matter experts and coordinated by a committee of five state fire marshals.
Students who successfully complete the course will acquire the knowledge to:
Conduct pre-event inspections to identify problems with exits and egress paths, and assure required fire systems are operational
Use a portable fire extinguisher
Guide the crowd in an emergency
Recognize when to use protection strategies, including defend-in-place, evacuation or partial evacuation
React to deteriorating weather conditions
Identify problem attendees, and what to do once they’re identified
Coordinate with emergency responders
The membership of National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) includes the most senior state fire officials in the United States and their top deputies. The primary mission of NASFM is to protect human life, property and the environment from fire and related hazards. A secondary mission is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State Fire Marshals’ operations. NASFM also offers membership to safety-minded corporations, associations, and research and academic institutions that wish to contribute to and collaborate on achieving common goals of public safety and emergency responder safety.
The International Code Council is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry provide safe and sustainable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process. Most U.S. communities and many global markets choose the International Codes.