05. Planning and Other Pre-Concert Arrangements


5.1 As outdoor concerts attract very large audiences and are held at locations varying from open sites to sports grounds, very careful planning of the event is required. The former requires a complex engineering infrastructure to be imported onto the site, whereas the latter will have much of the necessary provisions already in place. Sports grounds, however, may still require significant temporary alterations to be made in the interest of public safety. The ground in question and ancillary buildings are unlikely to be designed for such events. 1

5.2 It is essential that the Local Authority, the Gardaí and the Health Board should receive early notification of events. Experience has shown that the earlier the notification the more effective will be the overall control. Responsibility for such notification rests with the Promoter of the Event.

5.3 The duration of the concert should not exceed 11 hours on site, with a maximum of 3 hours music in any clay. The finishing time for sites where there is inadequate lighting in the vicinity should be a half-hour before lighting-up time. On other sites, concerts should finish not later than 23.00 hours or, where appropriate, 30 minutes before the extended time specified by the Courts for the closure of licensed premises in the area.

Preliminary Suitability Survey

5.4 It will be necessary at an early stage for the Promoter, in consultation with the Local Authority, Gardaí, and the Health Board, to carry out a preliminary suitability survey to see if the venue and its environs have the ability to absorb a large influx of people for a concentrated period. The survey should indicate if the site has suitable infrastructure. i.e., means of escape, entrances, exits, absence of dangerous slopes, adequate natural drainage (to avoid possible flooding), water supply facilities, etc.. In open sites care must also be taken to deal with problems of slippery conditions in bad weather. Temporary roadways may be necessary and the ability of the ground to withstand the heavy loadings for temporary stages and other structures, particularly in very wet weather, must be taken into account. The survey must also ensure that the site can be made suitably secure with regard to prevention of unauthorised entry. The surrounding areas should have sufficient facilities with regard to toilets, refreshments and other requirements to cater for a large crowd which may be in the area for a number of days.

5.5 In assessing the suitability of the site the level of disruption which populated centres close to the site of outdoor concerts experience must be taken into consideration. While individuals have the right to entertainment, those providing the entertainment have an obligation to protect public safety and reduce nuisance in the surrounding area to a minimum. Any views or concerns expressed by the local residents should be taken into account in the planning of the event.

5.6 The assessment of the suitability of the site must include consideration as to whether satisfactory arrangements can be made for emergency vehicles.

5.7 The results of the suitability survey should be presented at the preliminary planning meeting.

Preliminary Planning Meetings

5.8 Preliminary planning meetings are a critical part of the process for securing public safety at these events and for determining whether the site is suitable or not. It is advisable for the Promoter to arrange these meetings as early as possible and not later than 6 months before an event being held at a location which has not been successfully used for similar events previously. Where events are being held at an established venue, this meeting may be held 3 months before the event. The Local Authority, the Gardaí, the Health Board, the Event Controller or her/his deputy, the Event Safety Officer, the Transport Authorities, the relevant Voluntary Aid Organisations and the Civil Defence, where appropriate, should be party to this meeting. Minutes of all preliminary planning meetings should he prepared by the Promoter and should be circulated promptly to all parties involved.

5.9 A properly dimensioned general arrangement plan showing the approximate position of the stage, the front-of-stage barriers, the mixing tower and the standing/seating accommodation with the sterile areas clearly shown should be available at the preliminary planning meeting. Final proposals should be submitted with the Statement of Safety Procedures outlined in Paragraph 5.14.

5.10 The Event Controller should indicate at the meeting the date of the event, name of artist(s), expected attendance, age range, level of excitement anticipated, past experience with and knowledge of same artist(s), ticketing arrangements, V.l.Ps expected, and other relevant information.

5.11 The Promoter should send a copy of the relevant sections of this Code of Practice to the Artists’ Management to ensure their compliance with its requirements.

5.12 Assessing the risk of crushing at front-of-stage, where crowd densities can be very high, is one of the most crucial areas of concern. Fortunately, there have been very few serious accidents at pop concerts but the potential exists for such an occurrence. If adequate structural provision is not in place and it management is not alert to the dangers, that potential can become a reality. This must form a critical part of planning for the concert.

Event Planning Meeting

5.13 When a concert is being held at an established venue an Event Planning Meeting with the same participants who attended the Preliminary Planning meetings (See Paragraph 5.8) should be held at least two months in advance of the event. In the case of a new venue this meeting should be held five months in advance of the event. At this meeting the adequacy of the infrastructure can be clarified. Broad agreement should be reached in relation to:-

(i) estimated attendance;

(ii) public transport facilities;

(iii) car parking and access for emergency vehicles;

(iv) provision of refreshments;

(v) the collection and disposal of refuse;

(vi) sanitary accommodation and water supply;

(vii) first-aid, ambulances and the need to maintain emergency health services in the area;

(viii) fire precautions and fire safety measures, including means of escape and exit routes;

(ix) the possibility of a clash with any other major event attracting a crowd on the day scheduled for the concert;

(x) the duration of the concert;

(xi) arrangements for the appraisal of any special effects prior to or during the performance;

(xii) the use of appliances requiring cylinders or containers of flammable gas under pressure;

(xiii) access and other facilities for disabled people;

(xiv) proposed emergency evacuation procedures (Appendix A – Site Emergency Plan);

(xv) procedure to prevent drug abuse;

(xvi) protection of the local population from nuisance occasioned by the concert;

(xvii) maximum sound levels and monitoring arrangements;

(xviii) the Promoter’s arrangements for cleaning and clearing up of surrounding areas;

(xix) the provision of extra telephone lines, if required – Telecom Eireann should be invited to the meeting, if necessary;

(xx) provision of a water rescue unit by the Promoter, should the venue be adjacent to open water;

(xxi) contingency plans for adverse weather conditions; and

(xxii) Public Liability Insurance.

Statement of Safety Procedures

5.14 Following the event planning meeting and not less than 1 month before the event the Promoter should submit a Statement of Safety Procedures in writing to the Local Authority, Gardaí, and Health Board. The Statement should incorporate:-

(i) the names of the Event Controller, the Event Safety Officer and their deputies;

(ii) drawings to an appropriate scale including:-

(a) Site Layout Plan showing location of stage, front-of-stage barriers and all other temporary structures including trading areas e.g., (food outlet points), first-aid points, fire-fighting equipment, bus/car parking, sanitary accommodation, refuse skips, crowd control barriers and proposed location of ambulance vehicles, medical centre, ambulance control and parking, tents and marquees,

(b) Viewing Accommodation Plan showing pitch, terraces and grandstands indicating areas sterilized because adequate views of the stage are not available and also information appropriate to open sites,

(c) disabled patrons viewing areas,

(d) assessment of safe holding capacity of concert site,

(e) proposed means of ingress and egress to cater for (d) above,

(f) water supplies, including drinking points, fire hydrants, and other fire-fighting facilities,

(g) central control room position,

(h) designation of routes for emergency vehicles,

(i) traffic and transport arrangements,

(j) lighting facilities on site and site approaches, and

(k) sound monitoring provisions.

5.15 The Promoter should undertake to ensure that:

(i) the design and construction of the stage and other structures on site will be carried out under the supervision of a suitably experienced chartered engineer;

(ii) all temporary structures are completed at least 24 hours before the public is admitted to the site;

(iii) the engineer will certify that the works have been designed and carried out in accordance with the relevant standards; and

(iv) the certificate will be submitted to the Local Authority 12 hours before the public is admitted to the site.

5.16 The Promoter should undertake to advise Artists’ Management of these requirements and ensure that the production arrangements will comply with all requirements of the Statement of Safety Procedures.

5.17 Details of stage structures, electrical requirements, special effects and other site construction details as outlined in Paragraphs 5.18 – 5.21 should also be included in the Statement of Safety Procedures.

Stage Structure and Other Site Construction Details

5.18 Site construction details and loadings, with supporting calculations and, where appropriate, certificates from a suitably experienced chartered engineer should be submitted to the Local Authority and such details should relate to the following:-

(i) general arrangement drawings of the stage structure, front-of- stage and other barriers and other temporary structures such as the mixer tower, video screen support, lighting tower and tents and marquees; structural member sizes to be shown on the drawings;

(ii) calculations and certificates for all critical cases of dead, imposed (including dynamic) and wind loadings as required by the appropriate Irish, British or European Standards;

(iii) details of the scaffold system to be used and the manufacturers‘ catalogue;

(iv) details of the following structural members with safe working loads:

(a) standards, including special high strength standards if any, and the means of identification on site,

(b) adjustable feet and base plates,

(c) adjustable heads,

(d) trussed beams,

(e) bracing,

(f) ledgers, and

(g) all types of connections to be used including wedges, cup locks, standard clips, swivel clips, couplers, sleeves and height adjustment;

(v) non-standard items such as aluminium beams, connections and step units;

(vi) cladding of Stage Towers and Mixer Tower;

(vii) bases to the feet of standards (which should be minimum 0.1 m2 ) and tower bases (which should be steel grillages or precast concrete slabs);

(viii) details of the stage to include:

(a) decking construction,

(b) any special point loads,

(c) public address equipment, and

(d) revolving or moving suspended stage; and

(ix) details of the roof to the stage to include:

(a) distribution layout of lighting and all suspended loads,

(b) if the roof is supported on winches, location of the lifting and anchorage points,

(c) method of disposal of rainwater,

(d) measures to be taken it the windspeed exceeds the design speed, and

(e) method of measuring the wind speed.

5.19 If these details are not available well in advance of the concert, the location of the various elements, and, in particular, the details of the stage and front-of-stage barriers, cannot be assessed to ensure that proper safety arrangements can be put in place.

Electrical Requirements

5.20 Details of electrical requirements should include plans, with cabling layout, and specifications for the electrical installation in accordance with the guidance contained in Chapter 21. Completion certificates as prescribed in the E.T.C.I.’s National Rules For Electrical installation 2 shall be issued for both temporary and permanent work carried out.

Special Effects

5.21 Details of special effects should include plans, specifications and, where necessary, relevant certificates of suitability for the following:-

(i) special lighting including strobe, lasers and stage lighting;

(ii) pyrotechnics and bomb tanks;

(iii) smoke machines, real flame, confetti cannons and dry ice machines; and

(iv) very low frequency public address equipment.

The use of any special effects which could obscure exit routes or cause confusion must not he allowed.

Pre-Production Meeting

5.22 A pre-production meeting involving the Local Authority, Gardaí, and Health Board should be held at least four weeks prior to the event, where the Promoter, technical heads of sound, lighting, staging and electrical installation (or their representatives) are present. Problems arising from the submission of plans, calculations and specifications as outlined at Paragraphs 5.13 – 5.21 can be resolved at this meeting. Where necessary, samples of materials should be available for assessment. There should be a programme of pre-event inspections established at suitable times during the build-up to the event.

5.23 Regular meetings should continue to take place between the Promoter, Local Authority, Gardaí, Health Board, relevant Voluntary Aid Organisations and Transport and Telecommunication Authorities prior to the event.

Inspection During Performance

5.24 It is recommended that the Local Authority and the Health Board, apart from being present at pre-event meetings, should carry out a ‘‘during performance’’ inspection at the Concert. Promoters should facilitate these inspections.

Post-Event Meeting

5.25 A post-event meeting attended by the Promoter, Ground Management, the Event Controller, the Event Safety Officer and all those involved in the pre-event meetings should be held. The purpose of the meeting is to review the operation of the plan and to formulate any changes considered necessary from experience of the event. Minutes of this meeting should be prepared and issued promptly to all participants by the Promoter.

Guidance Documents

5.26 The Code of Practice for Safety at Sports Grounds 3 and the other documents listed in the Reference here under can also be used for guidance. 4-7

The Guide to Health, Safety and welfare at Pop Concerts and Similar Events. 8 is a useful guidance document.


1. Shaughnessy, J., Paper presented at Safe-T91, International Conference in Safety and Live Entertainment, London, 1991.
2. National Rules for Electrical Installations, Electron-Technical Council of Ireland, Dublin, 1988.
3. Code of Practice for Safety at Sports Grounds, Stationery Office, Dublin, 1996.
4. Code of Practice for the Management of Fire Safety in Places of Assembly, Stationery Office, Dublin, 1992.
5. Model Technical Regulations for Places of Public Entertainment, London, District Surveyors Association Publications, London, 1991.
6. Model Rules of Management for Places of Public Entertainment, London District Surveyors Association Publications, London, 1989.
7. BS 5588: Fire precautions in the design, construction and use of buildings, Part 6: 1991: Code of Practice for places of assembly, British Standards Institution, London.
8. Guide to Health, Safety and Welfare at Pop Concerts and Similar Events, HMSO, London, 1993.