Crowdsafe® Awards

Crowdsafe® Awards are announced annually by Crowd Management Strategies to recognize excellence and innovation in all areas of crowd safety, such as research, planning, management, advocacy, education, guidance, and enforcement. Both contemporary and historic achievements in crowd safety qualify for recognition.

The award program began in 2002.

The People of Rhode Island

Survivors, family members, first responders, business community leaders, local rock bands, religious institutions, countless good Samaritans from every walk of life came to the aid of the 200 injured survivors and the families of the 100 victims who died in the Great White concert tragedy at The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island (February 20, 2003). So overwhelming was the compassion and generosity of the people of Rhode Island, that it could not go unrecognized.

At the same time, Rhode Islanders’ undertook an uncompromising and painful search to learn how the worst rock and roll tragedy, and one of the worst US nightclub tragedies, could occur in their state. Their determination gave state lawmakers the momentum needed to pass comprehensive fire and crowd safety laws that have set a new standard for event safety.

The Providence Journal

What Rhode Islanders and the world know about the worst concert tragedy in rock and roll is, in large part, the result of the dogged determination of the publisher, editors, journalists, photographers, illustrators, and website staff of The Providence Journal in Providence, Rhode Island.

Without prejudice or preference, The Providence Journal spent the first year after the fire and crowd management tragedy uncovering critical information, fighting legal battles in the courts to protect the peoples’ right to know what happened and why, and expertly recreated the tragedy scene misstep-by-misstep so that the horrible tragedy of February 20, 2003, could be better understood and more likely prevented from recurring. All of this at great expense to the newspaper.

The end result was a near complete case study of the Great White concert disaster. And, all of that hard work, research and data was posted free on the newspaper’s website for safety experts, legislators and students of crowd safety from around the world to study and debate for decades to come.

The Providence Journal’s reportage is, without question, one of the best and most comprehensive scholarly investigations of a major tragedy to be undertaken anywhere in the world.

The Rhode Island State Government

Not since the 1979 Who concert tragedy in Cincinnati, has a government body proposed and passed such progressive and comprehensive event public safety legislation. All of this accomplished before a public forum.

In less than four intense months of research, investigation and public hearings, the 17-members of The Special Legislative Commission To Study All Aspects of Law And Regulation Concerning Pyrotechnic Displays And Fire Safety presented to the Rhode Island legislature, the governor and the people of Rhode Island their final report on June 5, 2003, Making Rhode Island the Safest State.

At first, the title of the report may have been dismissed as bravado from America’s smallest state. But, opening the 60-page report quickly proved otherwise. This was, in fact, a landmark report that unflinchingly and often painfully met the nightmare of the Great White concert disaster head on.

Making Rhode Island the Safest State makes life safety recommendations large and small -- all substantive. On July 7, state legislators passed every recommendation in the report.

NFPA Life Safety Technical Committee on Assembly Occupancies and Membrane Structures

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is a nonprofit organization of more than 70,000 life safety professionals and allied private industry leaders working for the establishment of national life safety standards, codes and practices.

Following the E2 nightclub crowd crush (Chicago) and the Great White concert fire and crowd crush (West Warwick, Rhode Island), the safety organization put at the top of its agenda the critical life safety issues raised by the two February calamities that claimed 121 lives and injured hundreds more.

The NFPA called on its Technical Committee on Assembly Occupancies and Membrane Structures to consider whether new national safety standards for places of public assembly should be added to the organization’s highly respected < A Life Safety Code. Two emergency meetings of the technical committee were held in March and July, 2003.

Technical committee members responded to the tragedy with significant new proposals addressing standards in fire safety, crowd density, festival seating (standing room environments), ingress, egress and crowd safety training. The committee’s emergency amendments to the Life Safety Code became effective immediately when the NFPA’s standards council approved them later in that year.

(Note: Neither meeting was attended by the voting representative of the International Association of Assembly Managers. Nor did the organization offer a single fire or event crowd safety recommendation to the committee.)

Fine Line Music Café

On the evening of Monday, February 17, 2003, during a concert by Jet City Fix at the The Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota, caught fire. It could have been a disaster similar to The Station fire in Rhode Island three days later. It could have been a disaster similar to the E2 nightclub in Chicago that occurred early that very morning.

There was none of that at The Fine Line because the popular nightclub had a sprinkler system and kept abreast of club safety issues through monthly meetings chaired by club owner Dario Anselmo. As fortune would have it, the Fine Line group met on that fateful Monday.

The fire, which left $1.8 million in property damage, was started by concert pyrotechnics, as it was at The Station. But unlike The Station and the E2, The Fine Line was prepared for the emergency, not overcrowded and fitted with proper emergency exits. Once the fire was discovered, management and staff evacuated patrons from the building to safety. There were no injuries.

Today, the Fine Line is back in business. Without a doubt, The Fine Line Music Café, and its owner Mr. Anselmo, are two examples of the very best the US entertainment and facility management industries have to offer.

Israel Police
National Headquarters
Jerusalem, Israel

In response to ongoing suicide-homicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians, the Israel Police developed in 2002 a unique counter-terrorism brochure the public called, Terror - Let's Stop It Together. The attractive and well-written publication offers simple safety techniques to help identify possible suicide-homicide bombers and explosives hidden in packages and vehicles.

The Israel Police posted the brochure on its website in Hebrew and English, thus, making Terror - Let's Stop It Together available free to communities around the world.

(Crowd Management Strategies assisted the Israel Police in editing the prototype version of this brochure.)

The Honorable Justice Bernard M. Ngoepe
Judge President
Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court of South Africa Pretoria, South Africa

Judge B. M. Ngoepe was appointed by South African President Thabo Mbeki to head a judicial commission of inquiry into the 2001 Ellis Park Stadium soccer crowd crush disaster that took the lives of 43 people and left scores injured.

The Final Report: Commission of Inquiry into the Ellis Park Stadium Soccer Disaster of 11 April 2001 written by Judge Ngoepe, and released in 2002, was refreshingly honest, thorough and unflinching in its assessment of the problems and crowd management failures that triggered the disaster. The Commission report underscores the need for effective and professional crowd safety planning and management at sporting events.

Mendip District Council
Somerset, England

In the United Kingdom, local government councils give final approval to proposed public events in their communities. Mendip Council exemplifies a public agency determined to provide a consistent level of safety for events in its community.

The council presides over one of England's most legendary rock events, the Glastonbury Festival. In 2001, the Glastonbury Festival organizers, headed by founder Michael Eavis, were told by the council their crowd management and security plan likely would not meet with their approval. The organizers canceled the Glastonbury Festival for that year.

In 2002, Mr. Eavis and staff presented the Mendip Council with a much improved crowd safety plan. The council found this one acceptable. As a result of the Mendip Council's strong stand, the Glastonbury Festival has witnessed tangible improvements in crowd safety and security.

Ian Weir
Venue & Event Management Services Pty Ltd.
Sydney, Australia

Individuals can influence public policy and public awareness of important issues. Ian Weir exemplifies the positive impact one person can have in these areas.

In 2001, Jessica Michalik was crushed to death during the Limp Bizkit set at the annual Big Day Out festival in Sydney, Australia. An official inquest into the teen's death followed. A final report was submitted in 2002.

Mr. Weir worked closely with George Michalik, the father of Jessica, and with inquest officials. His venue and crowd management expertise, and his professional assessments and insights helped all parties better understand the role of crowd safety at concerts and festivals.

Roskilde Festival organizers
Roskilde Festival
Roskilde, Denmark

In 2000, nine concertgoers were crushed to death at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark during a performance by Pearl Jam. For the next 12 months after the disaster, Danish media and government authorities, including a special safety committee, undertook separate investigations into the tragedy. Meanwhile, Roskilde Festival organizers, headed by Leif Skov, promised to recreate the Roskilde Festival as the safest festival in Europe.

In 2001, Mr. Skov and his team proved true to their word. Major crowd management changes were introduced, including: a detailed risk assessment and crowd management plan; a crowd barrier system to reduce crowd crush: a crowd surfing ban, a free crowd-safety brochure for Scandinavian concertgoers; a content-rich website; and increased first-aid services.

The Roskilde Festival organizers are recipients of Crowd Management Strategies' first Crowdsafe® Award.

(Crowd Management Strategies provided crowd safety consulting services to the Roskilde Festival organizers following the tragedy.)

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