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September 7, 2009

Industry calls for tighter event safety after fatal blaze in Kuwait

The events industry is calling for tighter safety regulations following the outbreak of a blaze in a wedding tent in Kuwait which killed 44 women and children in August.

According to officials, the tent was made out of a combustible material and was equipped with just a single exit. The entire structure was destroyed by flames within minutes.

Experts say more stringent safety regulations could help to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in the future. “Probably people could have been rescued or would not have been affected if there had been established processes to identify and control risks – and actions taken,” said Harald Scherer, Health and Safety Officer, 4events.


He added that safety standards in the Middle East currently lag behind other markets. “The gap between ideas and existing rules and regulations in the region still doesn’t match international standards. It should be our professional aim to push rules and regulations to the market as soon as possible and to continue to work on [improving] health and safety aspects.”


Stefan Bartosch, managing director of De Boer International, which supplies tents and temporary structures to the events industry, agreed that local event safety does not match international levels.   


He told meetme: “At present within the region, safety standards and regulations are behind international levels and this issue really needs to be addressed. There should be tighter regulations in the region in regards to the holding of events in tents in order to prevent such disasters in the future.”

The fire in Kuwait has drawn attention to the issues of event safety during Ramadan, when tents are used widely throughout the region for celebrations. Kuwaiti authorities responded to the tragedy, with the Fire Department issuing instructions for all tents erected during Ramadan to be inspected by authorities and announcing that fire extinguishers and emergency exits are now mandatory.

Safety experts say simple safety procedures can help to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.

“First and foremost the supplier should be able to provide you with the proper certification on whether the material used is fire resistant.

“Secondly, there should be enough emergency exits, escape routes and fire extinguishers available. We strongly believe the responsibility to provide suitable products and adequate certification lies with the tent suppliers and organisers. All tent suppliers and event organisers should have considered a safety plan and fire strategy prior to any event,” said Bartosch

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