Structure Safety

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Structure Safety

Postby Icepack » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:48 pm

I am wondering if there are any guidelines in place or more accurately, how is structure safety monitored?

As some of the Rangers and medical staff know, a theme camp built a structure this year that got blow apart in the wind and landed in the camp next door. As those of us in the camp that got dumped on came running to assist those who were screaming, someone got hurt. (damages to tents and vehicles also occurred but I'm trying to keep this short.)

The Ranger is now home. A 3 hour ambulence ride to Reno occurred at Burning Man, and an overnight stay in a hotel room. Afterwards, Friday came back to the event but was unable to be a ranger or do any lockouts because of his injuries.

We spent the afternoon following up with his doctors at home, and found out that he may need surgery and physical therapy in order to heal.

We also had to pay for added travel expenses for our time in Reno, prescription costs, and we'll have an ambulence bill to deal with. Not to mention the ice we bought to control the swelling, the money we had to pay to the hospital that night, and other expenses.

Needless to say, this got me thinking.... how does anyone know that the structures we see at Burning Man are safe? I see domes and scaffolding, and roller-coaster rides, and RVs with tents on top of them, and lots of very cool and creative art, shade, and fun structures. Is there any system in place to ensure that these things are safe for the participants? And for those who may be in the crash-zone?
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Postby Isotopia » Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:19 pm

Needless to say, this got me thinking.... how does anyone know that the structures we see at Burning Man are safe? I see domes and scaffolding, and roller-coaster rides, and RVs with tents on top of them, and lots of very cool and creative art, shade, and fun structures. Is there any system in place to ensure that these things are safe for the participants? And for those who may be in the crash-zone?


There is Bob. But Bob can't and shouldn't expected to ba in all places at all times monitoring structure safety. Something one might do is to head over to the camp, introduce yourself and explain any concerns you might have - especially given your bad experience.
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Postby Dustdevil » Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:41 am

As part of the Performance Safety Team I know that certain structures do get inspected. The roaster coaster was inspected. We looked for safety in the flame effects and safety in the structure itself. My own fire art "device" was also inspected by the fire dept. They wanted to know what type of fuel is used, the quantities and how to shut down the unit in the event of a problem. It is not possible to inspect each and every structure on the Playa, but many of the larger items that are open to the general public are looked at by the PST.
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Postby Ivy » Sat Sep 11, 2004 9:53 am

While I totally understand your concern, dare I reiterate: "did you read the back of your ticket"?

When everything starts getting inspected at Burning Man and we have to have building permits to erect our shade structures and we put in a sewage system, and traffic lights, and...? Why will we even bother coming to Burning man at all?

I'm not trying to make light of your situation and it sucks that good people like you & Friday seem to have gotten the short end of the stick, but you (as we all) knew the chances coming in and chose to take them.
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Postby Hotspur » Sat Sep 11, 2004 11:09 am

I've never felt "read the back of your ticket" was an adequate response, because, honestly, I've read the back of my ticket, and people make suggetsions for rules that strikes me as an attempt to take the responsibility the ticket demands.

Because there's a limit to how much responsibility I can take for myself if I let you do whatever you want. No matter how many lights I wear, if you're driving around the playa drunk at 50mph I'm still at risk -- so it makes perfect sense for me to try to create some basic rules to force you to be responsible, within limits.

I said within limits. Don't anybody start whining about Disnification (the most overused word on eplaya other than Nazi).

What sort of structure was it that collapsed?
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Postby geekster » Sat Sep 11, 2004 11:59 am

Hotspur wrote:I've never felt "read the back of your ticket" was an adequate response, because, honestly, I've read the back of my ticket, and people make suggetsions for rules that strikes me as an attempt to take the responsibility the ticket demands.


One gift I take very seriously is to make sure as best that I can that I in no way intentionally endanger another burner. When working our art car, I was not only 100% sober, I made sure that no intoxicant passed my lips for several hours before. I tended the bar. I watched people's drinks, kept the area as clean and dry as I could, kept an overall eye on the car deck and surrounding area and alerted the driver more than once when a potentially dangerous situation was developing. That warning on the back of the ticket is to me the LAST resort, not the primary philosophy. Every structure we built in our camp was well anchored. We had a couple of broken tent poles in the high wind but nothing blew away.

I think everyone should look carefully at their shit and ask themself if they have done everything REASONABLY possible to make sure that it isn't going to hurt someone. Thinking of it as an anonymous gift to my fellow burners made this task a little easier. My personal reward was that nobody got so much as a scratch from our shit AND I met a lot of wonderful people and was able to see most of them smile. I apologize to the people on bikes that wanted to grab on for a ride from our car for ASKING you please not to do that. I wasn't trying to be a controlling asshole, I wanted to make sure you didn't get hurt. We just had too much shit on the sides of the thing that you could get caught up in. I would hate to see someone have a finger pulled off or worse. For those that said "Hey, I am a big boy, I read my ticket", yeah, I know. If you insisted on grabbing on anyway, we just stopped the car and partied for a while.

We decided ahead of time that we would rather take a little longer in getting to where we were going than to be confrontational fucktards. We would ask people not to do it and if they did anyway, we just did something different that mitigated the unsafe condition. Most likely we offered to let you hang your bike on the car, climb aboard and join the party.

Yeah, the back of the ticket says it is risky. But it is up to all of us to do what we can to try to minimize those risks to the extent that we can and still have fun.
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Postby Ivy » Sat Sep 11, 2004 12:30 pm

I'm not saying the back of the ticket is a catch-all. What I'm saying is that you know you take risks going out there. Should you minimize the risks as much as possible? Probably a good idea.

But by going to BM, you "assume the risk" of injury or death. If you are so afraid that a windstorm will cause you a problem, then the windy desert is probably not your best vacation spot.

I agree that people should do their best to reduce any sort of harm or injury to others--that goes along with not interfering directly with another's experience. But it's not up to others to change themselves so much in order to assuage another's paranoia. And to establish some sort of "structure safety code" IMO is ridiculous, both in idea and feasibility.
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Postby geekster » Sat Sep 11, 2004 1:14 pm

Ivy wrote:I agree that people should do their best to reduce any sort of harm or injury to others--that goes along with not interfering directly with another's experience. But it's not up to others to change themselves so much in order to assuage another's paranoia. And to establish some sort of "structure safety code" IMO is ridiculous, both in idea and feasibility.


I suppose that is what I was thinking when I said REASONABLE. A building code IS ridiculous and such a thing should only be imposed if it is imposed on BMorg by the local authorities. That would completely fucking suck but would be consistant with the "omnipotent mommy" mentality of government these days so it would not come as a complete surprise. I think some community self-policing might be in order, as someone else mentioned. If you see something that you are not comfortable with and think might hurt you, investigate it yourself rather than waiting for "them" to do it for you.
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Postby Icepack » Sat Sep 11, 2004 2:19 pm

Ivy wrote:While I totally understand your concern, dare I reiterate: "did you read the back of your ticket"?

When everything starts getting inspected at Burning Man and we have to have building permits to erect our shade structures and we put in a sewage system, and traffic lights, and...? Why will we even bother coming to Burning man at all?

I'm not trying to make light of your situation and it sucks that good people like you & Friday seem to have gotten the short end of the stick, but you (as we all) knew the chances coming in and chose to take them.


Of course we read the back of our ticket Ivy. However, I expect the injuries to be the kind inflicted on myself because of my own stupidity. I am not faulting BMOG at all. I am simply posing a question. When was the last time you had a house fall on your tent? Is that something you expect?
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Postby Icepack » Sat Sep 11, 2004 2:30 pm

Dustdevil wrote:As part of the Performance Safety Team I know that certain structures do get inspected. The roaster coaster was inspected. We looked for safety in the flame effects and safety in the structure itself. My own fire art "device" was also inspected by the fire dept. They wanted to know what type of fuel is used, the quantities and how to shut down the unit in the event of a problem. It is not possible to inspect each and every structure on the Playa, but many of the larger items that are open to the general public are looked at by the PST.


That is a comfort to know. I think what happened with this camp was that the builders did something that no one really was aware of until after the accident. So in our case, it looked safe. Only the builders knew what they were doing, and they were too ignorant and uneducated to know that they were building a hazard that could have killed someone. I am glad to know that the bigger structures and so forth do have some sort of PST thing.

We did introduce ourselves before the thing collapsed and we expressed our concerns that something might happen. However, we did not know all the details even then. Their camp lead person never apologized to our camp lead person or to us. Our camp lead suffered damages to her vehicle that fortunately her insurance company will cover.

If our friend had been napping in his tent when the timber and tarp came flying, I am quite convinced that he would have been seriously injured or killed.

Ivy, NAPPING IN YOUR TENT IS NOT A DANGEROUS ACTIVITY.

So, if we are going to go to the "you might be killed, read the back of your ticket" philosophy, let's bring back guns and firearms to the event. After all, only licensed people can carry them so they shouldn't be dangerous.
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Postby Icepack » Sat Sep 11, 2004 2:34 pm

Ivy wrote:While I totally understand your concern, dare I reiterate: "did you read the back of your ticket"?

When everything starts getting inspected at Burning Man and we have to have building permits to erect our shade structures and we put in a sewage system, and traffic lights, and...? Why will we even bother coming to Burning man at all?

I'm not trying to make light of your situation and it sucks that good people like you & Friday seem to have gotten the short end of the stick, but you (as we all) knew the chances coming in and chose to take them.



Ah Ivy... do you remember in 2003, Friday rescued your shade structure from blowing away because you hadn't secured it enough?

Shit, next time, should he just let that go by in the wind?
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Postby Icepack » Sat Sep 11, 2004 2:38 pm

geekster wrote:
Ivy wrote:I agree that people should do their best to reduce any sort of harm or injury to others--that goes along with not interfering directly with another's experience. But it's not up to others to change themselves so much in order to assuage another's paranoia. And to establish some sort of "structure safety code" IMO is ridiculous, both in idea and feasibility.


I suppose that is what I was thinking when I said REASONABLE. A building code IS ridiculous and such a thing should only be imposed if it is imposed on BMorg by the local authorities. That would completely fucking suck but would be consistant with the "omnipotent mommy" mentality of government these days so it would not come as a complete surprise. I think some community self-policing might be in order, as someone else mentioned. If you see something that you are not comfortable with and think might hurt you, investigate it yourself rather than waiting for "them" to do it for you.


I agree. I think Building codes would suck. We did talk to the folks before hand and tell them we thought their tarp might rip or blow off. However, they seemed okay with taking that chance. We didn't realize that their load-bearing frames had been hinged so that they would fit in the truck better. The hinges of course gave way and the lumber blew away in the wind. 1 x6s are not strong to begin with.

So the idea I have would be just for the rangers, or someone, to be aware of what is "safe" for structures and to keep an eye out and talk to the camps as they make their rounds in a friendly way and educate as needed.
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Postby Isotopia » Sat Sep 11, 2004 4:19 pm

So the idea I have would be just for the rangers, or someone, to be aware of what is "safe" for structures and to keep an eye out


Yet another straw tossed onto the back of Rangers.
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Postby Ivy » Sat Sep 11, 2004 4:49 pm

Dear Icepack,

I'm sorry that your neighbors were assholes and didn't apoligize and make everything better.

We had a very similar situation happen in our village--a shade from one of our camps was lifted by the wind and crashed down in the camp across the street. Fortunately, no one was injured (though about 12,631 people rushed over to help and see if everyone was okay). Two car windows were broken and several tents collapsed. people from our village helped put the tents back up and last I heard the broken car windows would be paid for by insurance of people in our village (the ones whose shade structure flew, as oppsed to the victim's insurance).

Again, I'm sorry your neighbors were assholes. but that's unique to BRC--that can happen anywhere. Ever been in an accident where it's someone else's fault and they never apologize either? Tried to get them to pay their share? Sorry, honey, but people are people and sometimes they suck. What would you like to do about that? Do we start inspecting people for asshole factor? Personally, I think that's be easier to implement than a building code.


Obviously napping in your tent is not a "risky" activity. I already said that I agree with the statement that people should to their best to reduce risks. I disagree that it should be placed in the hands of the rangers or some other task force. It belongs in the hands and eyes of the citizens. You yourself said you expressed concerns that the structure was not stable, but you didn't realize how unstable it was until too late. You weer neighbors, up close and personal--how would a ranger or any other person (unless they have building knowledge) have known any more than you about how stable that structure would be?


Ah Ivy... do you remember in 2003, Friday rescued your shade structure from blowing away because you hadn't secured it enough?


as far as this goes...honey, you need to get your facts straight. I don't know whose shade you and Friday rescued but it certainly wasn't mine. Hard to rescue something that doesn't exist.
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Postby Icepack » Sat Sep 11, 2004 6:45 pm

Isotopia wrote:
So the idea I have would be just for the rangers, or someone, to be aware of what is "safe" for structures and to keep an eye out


Yet another straw tossed onto the back of Rangers.[/quote

I just said that because they are the only ones I could think of that were already out in the city walking around and seeing things up close. I agree, the Rangers already have a lot on their plate, and are at times understaffed Echelon especially this year I think). I have met a few Rangers and have a great respect for the work they do.

Again, my point was to generate discussion and increase awareness. Not to necessarily solve the problem or point fingers or anything. Discussion generates awareness and increases education among everyone. By talking about it, hopefully we decrease problems in the future.
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