Fire safety lockdown?

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Fire safety lockdown?

Postby Bluemandrew » Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:29 am

As a point of discussion, I'd like to note that out of all of the "guidelines" for dangerous art, the fire safety rules are more and more restrictive. I know a lot of good people work on and run the FAST team and probably worked really hard putting together these rules and regs, but I really want to know if these are proactive or reactive.

Was there a reason, an event, an accident, a new dickhead fire marshal, that such detailed operating procedures were hammered out? Or is this an attempt to avoid any of those problems in the first place?

I was a firefighter, I'm certified Firefighter 2 and have been in burning buildings etc. I'm not clueless as to why these rules are here, but they seem very out of character for the way things are generally run around the rest of the event. Not much chance for self-reliance on anyone's part IMHO

One that sticks out to me is the perimeter page http://www.burningman.com/installations/safety_perimeters.html


Again- I know some of you who have helped me out before had a big part in these rules, and I don't mean this as an attack. The rules all make sense, but I'm not used to the burning man FAQ section reading like the SOG for a fire department. I'm very curious as to why this had to be done.
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Postby Dustdevil » Sat Feb 26, 2011 10:47 am

Actually the rules have not changed a great deal. What has changed is the fact that the FAST (Fire Art Safety Team) is enforcing the rules to a greater degree and along with that have attempted to put the rules in print so the artists have a reference.

There is no Fire Marshal for BM. Years ago, before FAST (previously called the Performance Safety Team, PST) the BLM told the LLC that the size and complexity of the fires and fire art was getting larger. They told us to publish guidelines and police ourselves or they would do it for us. If we had the local County inspectors the event would be much different. Large projects, such as Crude Awakening, would never happen. I can imagine attempting to explain to a local inspector how you will push close to a 1000 gallons of JP8 into the air and ignite it.

As the event gets larger the need for better drafting of the guidelines becomes more important. A classic example is the enforcement of NFPA part 160 guidelines. We have required all the fire artists using unregulated propane to use SCH 80 fittings and lines. It has taken several years to get everyone to change over, but it is a good move. A couple of years ago we had an accumulator tank rupture. It was due to flame inpingement and no one was hurt, but the team became acutely aware of the possibility for injury.

A perimeter around a tall burning structure or a pyro display is required for several obvious reasons and some not so obvious reasons. There have been some who will break through the perimeter and run towards the fire. Also, a 25' separation allows for the perimeter people to communicate with each other. The perimeter goes up when live product or fuel is loaded into the project. Even with a perimeter there have been people wandering into a project. On many of the projects there will be open gas mines and alcohol mines. These are generally a few feet off the ground so smoking becomes a real issue with the gasoline vapors.

As far as self reliance on the part of the artist..... three years ago there was a large burn with a substancial amount of pyro incorporated into the project. When the FAST team arrived they found 3 people to maintain the perimeter. The artists are now briefed before they get to the Playa on what is required of them.

The rules are being more strictly enforced to prevent accidents and to keep the FAST team in charge of inspecting fire art. It is a lot easier to change the fittings on your accumulator at home that it is on the Playa.

The goal of FAST is to assist the artist in creating dangerous art safely. If the artist knows in advance they will need a certain number of people for the perimeter, they have a better chance of organizing them.

These are only the rules. It is still up to the artist to make it happen, safely. The Rangers don't provide perimeter people, the FAST group does not supply the manpower or materials for the project, only the information.

I certainly don't percieve your post as an attack, simply a quesion....thanks for posting it.
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Postby Bluemandrew » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:14 pm

Thanks DustDevil. I hate questioning SOG because people tend to get pissy about it.

I guess the big question (which you answered) was if someone had told the BMORG to tighten things up.

How about design and installation of equipment? Does the FAST team look for you to have professional level equipment? Or does homebuilt redneck stuff fly, assuming it's not going to kill anyone?
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Postby Dr. Pyro » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:26 pm

Not going to kill anyone? Jeeze Drew, where's the fun in that?
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Postby Dustdevil » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:15 pm

Bluemandrew wrote:How about design and installation of equipment? Does the FAST team look for you to have professional level equipment? Or does homebuilt redneck stuff fly, assuming it's not going to kill anyone?


In the six years I have been inspecting fire art I have seen the full range of equipment. I have seen things that were agricultural in apprearance and also the really high end gear.

In all that time I have only had to deny a laminate to one artist. Not everyone can afford to have professional level equipment and not every project needs it. When I built El Diablo I used the best parts available. The results of a failure could be lethal. In fact, the first year I brought it I was placed at 11:30 and the trash fence. It didn't kill anyone, so the next year I was asked to join the PST.
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