The American Culture Festival

Lake Eola this July 4th weekend promises to be an event full of fun, food, entertainment, and an amazing fireworks display for close out the celebrations. As the event director, I will oversee all event operations and logistics. Part of this responsibility is ensuring that the expected 100.000 attendees enjoy the festivities in a safe environment. As such, it is important to understand and plan for risks associated with executing the fireworks show at the conclusion of the event.

In order to ensure that this risk management plan is accurate and complete, it is essential to categorize any potential risk involving the fireworks show using the EMBOK model. The EMBOK model is described as “a three-dimensional description of the knowledge and skills essential to create, develop and deliver an event.” (EMBOK.org, 2019) According to the Risk Management for Meetings and Events textbook, the EMBOK model consists of phases, processes, core values, and functional areas. This plan will identify the key domains and functional areas that may be affected in the execution of the fireworks show.

The first domain is the Administration domain which allocates, directs, and controls the resources for the project (in this case, the fireworks show). (Rutherford Silvers, 2013) In this domain, the plan assesses the financial costs associated with executing the display. For example, the City of Orlando requires that event organizers obtain a fireworks permit from the municipality, granting permission to discharge fireworks in a public setting. The cost for the permit is $50 and the request form can be completed online. (City of Orlando, 2019) This cost is included as part of the budget for the show along with obvious costs for supplies and materials. Additionally, in this domain, I would also ensure that the permit is completed and submitted to the city within the required deadline for processing. Without an approved permit, the fireworks show will not occur.

The safety of vendors, staff, volunteers, and attendees is addressed in the Operations domain. The operations domain concentrates on the people, products, and services that are brought together to produce the event. (Rutherford Silvers, 2013) The overall safety and well-being of all persons in attendance is my priority. Personal injury can be high during a fireworks show due to a number of risks:

    1. Inadequate space for spectators to watch the show or move about the area: the lack of lighting in the viewing areas may cause low visibility and thereby difficulty moving throughout the area during the show thus increasing the probability for slips or falls. To mitigate this risk, I will station volunteers throughout the viewing areas with small flashlights to create additional light for persons needed to move about.
    2. Inadequate space for drop zone: the fallout area must follow and comply with Section 5.2 of the National Fire Code 1123 which specifies the required separation distance for spectators (National Fire Protection Association, 2019). This separation distance will be determined based on the size of the materials used as highlighted in the code procedures. For example, a shell will travel approximately 100 feet for every inch of its size. (Ballam, 2010) Therefore, precise distance calculations, provided by the fireworks operations team, will be adhered to, no exceptions.
    3. Weather: accounting for changes in weather and wind patterns and how those changes will affect the fallout area will be assessed on an hourly basis, leading up to the show. This will help to identify any increases in the risk of spectator injury. Consequently, emergency personnel (fire & medical) with be situated on either side of the designated spectator areas to provide assistance.
    4. Personal fireworks – It should also be noted that any outside pyrotechnics materials is strictly prohibited at this event and will be confiscated prior to entering the grounds for the event. This is to mitigate the risk of personal injury or injury to other attendees due to inexperience in operating these materials.

At any event, the risk surrounding crowd behavior is of concern. In my experience, this risk is minimal or low during the show, however that can change without a moment’s notice should the risk of personal injury, fire, or overall panic be imminent. Therefore, I think it wise to plan for such instances. In case of a panicked crowd, staff and volunteers assigned to crowd control will calm persons using the PA system or megaphones to ensure everyone is aware of emergency procedures. Staff will instruct them how to proceed to emergency exits, which will be illuminated (red or blue). Event organizers will communicate with emergency personnel (police/fire/medical) via a pre-determined two-way radio channel. Crowd assessments will be conducted by staff to determine if anyone needs medical services.

The risk domain deals with protective obligations, opportunities, and legalities around the event project. (Rutherford Silvers, 2013) In this domain, I address another resource required for the show, the barge. It is critical that all staff operating or working on the barge are certified and trained in emergency vessel procedures. Additionally, housing fireworks on a vessel that operates on fuel is a major risk as any interaction between the fireworks and fuel can cause detrimental fires onboard the barge when the fireworks are ignited. To mitigate this risk, the fireworks operators must guarantee that all pyrotechnics materials are kept in a separate, dry area and away from any combustible materials. Additionally, it is important that all operators are well-informed of the National Fire Codes1123 Sections 5 and 8, which details and mandates fireworks operations. (National Fire Protection Association, 2019) Understanding the procedures for loading, firing, and disposing of pyrotechnics shells is critical in mitigating the risk of injury to personnel onboard the barge or spectators attending the event. As such, police boats will maintain and patrol a 50-meter perimeter surrounding the barge, to keep spectators from entering the blast zone. Furthermore, the Orlando Fire Department will be on standby should the need arise to extinguish any fires or blazes that result from the firing of shells or descending of sparks.

The last domain that will be included in this plan is marketing. The marketing domain addresses the functions that shape the image and value of the event project. (Rutherford Silvers, 2013) A marketing strategy will be implemented to promote the weekend’s events to identified target niches. However, a separate marketing plan will be centered around informing the public of our safety plan for the fireworks show. This will include print materials, radio ads, and listing tips for safe spectating on all social media platforms. The idea is to apprise attendees and vendors of what is expected prior to the fireworks display to reduce the chance of the above-identified risks occurring.

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