Better Late Than Sorry

“Better safe than sorry” is a modern English idiom that can be traced back to Irish novelist Rory O’More (1837). Essentially, it means that it is better to take protective measures rather than be sorry that you didn’t if something bad happens.

We can share this idiom with the ongoing saga in Wood Dale, IL. A new report was released explaining how the failure of an evacuation plan to be enacted and lack of clarity as to who was the event organizer caused the tragedy. Follow this link “No evacuation ordered at Wood Dale festival in fatal storm, records show.

An abbreviated version of the lawsuit states that Classic Party Rental provided the tent and was responsible for not enacting an evacuation plan. Classic Party Rental was contracted to provide the tent and additional equipment, but their position is that they were not responsible for organizing the event.

The Prairie Fest website states that the City of Wood Dale’s City Manager’s office and elected officials were responsible for the coordination of the festival. However, the wide immunity that is imposed by the State of Illinois limits the City of Wood Dale’s liability. Hence, who is next in line in the lawsuit chain? Unfairly, Classic Party Rental.

Because of potential liabilities tent rental companies have provided services and products for events that were protected by legislative immunity; SAFTSE and our members have started to craft a document to clarify the responsibilities for producing a safe event environment. The document is referred to as a “Collaborative Safety Plan.” The basis of our “Collaborative Safety Plan” begins with risk assessment,  assigning responsibilities, preventive maintenance, inspection before the event, and the evacuation plan.

In a previous blog post, SAFTSE stated that the tent and special event industry should adopt shared responsibilities when establishing and implementing an evacuation plan during a potentially dangerous situation. By knowing who is responsible for enacting an evacuation plan, the tent company can assist the event planner, organizer, or the AHJ to facilitate the evacuation plan with the guidance of the previously documented “Collaborative Safety Plan.”

At this point, it is only speculation; had the parties involved in producing the Prairie Fest event created a “Collaborative Safety Plan”, would the plan have altered the outcome?


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