Tenting: Planning for emergency evacuations
03/06/2013

New ARA tenting document offers best practices

It’s a special event. Your customer has rented a tent that is now full of people, tables, chairs, beautiful linens and floral arrangements. The mood has been set by the intricate lighting and trendy furniture that have been artfully placed by your staff members. Everyone is having a great time. Then the weather changes. Storm clouds race in and bring with them pouring rain and high winds. The guests in the tent feel they are safe because they are inside the tent. No one makes a move to evacuate.

This is a potential nightmare situation for rental companies because the tent is one of the last places your customer and guests should be during a severe storm. Recent incidents, such as the Indiana State Fair stage collapse and the St. Louis tent collapse that occurred as a result of strong winds, illustrate how deadly and damaging a tent can be in a storm or other emergency situation.

To help educate the industry and tent rental customers about this and what to do in case of an emergency, the American Rental Association (ARA) and ARA Insurance have created, in conjunction with a working group of ARA member rental businesses and tent manufacturers, the new Statement of Best Practices of Emergency Evacuation Planning for Tented Events. This document was unveiled last month during The Rental Show in Las Vegas.

“ARA and ARA Insurance staff members took this project and, along with members of the working group in which I served, developed an impressive best practices guide for the industry,” says Tim Maloney Sr., CERP, president of Canton Chair Rental in Canton, Ohio.

The 24-page best practices document covers all aspects of the emergency evacuation planning process:

  • Explains why tents are temporary structures and outlines the hazards and risks associated with them.
  • Reviews why rental businesses need to educate their employees.
  • Outlines how to explain emergency evacuation planning to rental customers.
  • Provides guidelines and a checklist for rental business customers to use in developing an emergency evacuation plan.
  • Highlights steps to take when a rental business’s equipment is involved in an emergency.
  • Lists resources.

“It underscores the fact that tents are not safe shelters in emergency situations, assists rental companies and their customers in understanding the best practices regarding measures to take when emergency situations occur, and encourages rental companies to be more prepared,” says Michael Tharpe, sales/marketing manager with TopTec Products, Moore, S.C., who served on the working group.

John Fuchs, general manager of Anchor Industries, Evansville, Ind., who also served on the working group,
agrees and notes that this gathers all of the industry’s knowledge into a “formal document that party rental businesses can use,” he says. “Before, there wasn’t a standard to go to. Now, we have a comprehensive guide that follows a logical flow and offers a step-by-step process.”

This is important because safety is the main goal of any tent rental transaction and increasing safety is the main purpose of this document, says Alex Kouzmanoff, vice president of Aztec Tents, Torrance, Calif., who served on the working group.

“The No. 1 goal of this document is to help minimize the likelihood of injury or death at event locations by educating our industry about planning for the unplanned,” Kouzmanoff says. “This guide will bring a new level of communication and awareness about potential external risks that could affect their events and the safety of the guests and others working within the event space.”

“Rental operators can use it right off the shelf or tweak it to fit their market,” Maloney says. “It can be used to train staff members, which is a big plus. Once they see the value, they will be able to sell the idea of emergency evacuation planning to the customers — the individuals who will need to implement the evacuation plan for their tented events.”


ARA members offer tenting expertise

The American Rental Association (ARA) and ARA Insurance wanted to gather the knowledge of experts in the industry when creating the Statement of Best Practices of Emergency Evacuation Planning for Tented Events, so a working group, comprised of ARA general and associate members, was formed to assist with this project.

The working group included:

  • Tim Maloney Sr., CERP, president of Canton Chair Rental, Canton, Ohio, who served as chair of the group.
  • Scott Woodruff, owner of Event Central Rental & Sales, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
  • John Donison, safety manager-tenting division, Classic Tents, Torrance, Calif.
  • Terry Turner, CERP, owner of All Occasions Party Rentals, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Alex Kouzmanoff, vice president of Aztec Tents, Torrance, Calif.
  • John Fuchs, general manager of Anchor Industries, Evansville, Ind.
  • Michael Tharpe, sales/marketing manager with TopTec Products, Moore, S.C.

Carla Brozick, CAE, senior director of education and training at ARA, and Maura Paternoster, AIC, ARM, RWCS, risk manager at ARA Insurance, served as staff liaisons.  


Get your own copy

All American Rental Association (ARA) members who have tents in their inventories will receive a copy of this document with this issue of Rental Management magazine.

Members may purchase printed copies in packages of 10 from ARA for a nominal fee or download a free version by visiting ARArental.org and clicking on “Risk Management.”