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Safety Guidelines Needed for Tent Structures

On August 13, 2011, forty three mile an hour straight line winds brought down a stage at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis killing seven people. The Indiana Fire Prevention and safety commission is meeting this week to consider new guidelines for temporary structures which will become Indiana’s first official rules governing these structures.

A similar tragedy this past weekend in St. Louis, has St. Louis officials also reviewing guidelines for these structures.  Alfred Goodman, 58, of Waterloo, Ill was killed this past weekend about an hour and a half after the Cardinal game as he and others were gathered inside a large beer tent at Kilroy’s Sports Bar. A fast moving storm with winds over 50 miles an hour moved through and ripped the tent from its moorings.  Seventeen people were taken to hospitals for treatment with five listed in critical or serious condition.   The cause of Mr. Goodman’s death is still being investigated.

St. Louis requires tent structures to withstand winds up to 90 miles per hour according to the St. Louis Building Commissioner, Frank Oswald. The Kilroy tent had been granted a permit and inspected earlier this month.   However, both Oswald and  Deputy Fire Chief John Altmann cautioned that a tent is not the safest place to be in bad weather, and is not designed for severe weather conditions.

Some tent installer guidelines provided by tent manufacturers  note that for the safety of all occupants, evacuation is recommended if threatening weather occurs, or there is and doubt concerning the safe use of the product.

According to witnesses, barstools, pedestals and a 100 pound amplilfier were flying through the air. One of the disc jockeys working at Kilroy’s was apparently knocked unconscious in the destruction.

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