Make-in-India Event Fire at Mumbai: Event Organizers at fault? Lack of Risk Management?

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A cloud of enigma still persists as one tries to figure out what really caused the massive fire during a cultural programme at a ‘Make in India’ event in Mumbai on 14th of February. Some sources assert that warnings regarding such an imminent conflagration were issued by the fire department, raising stringent questions on the delinquencies of Event Organizers. Sources say that the Fire Department had cautioned against the use of fireworks near the podium, but failing to adhere to those warnings, pyrotechnics and smoke machines were utilized on the stage which could have probably caused the fire.

Who’s at fault?

Though some measures were taken to do use the fire post the accident and no casualties were reported, such an ill incident creates a negative reputation to the event organizers and breaks the trust of the stakeholders. Any issue that pops up at an event, by default, the organizer is culpable. The Right to Information (RTI) activist Anil Galgali has alleged that safety was compromised during the Make in India Week event. “I think the fire erupted because the organizers were in different to the warnings” he said. Such public denunciations, denigrates an organizer’s esteem.

Risk Management for Organizers

What can be categorized as risks for an event?

Any issue that is created either before or during or after the event that has a potential to create danger to the audience of the event or stakeholders or the organizer himself can be categorized as a risk for an event.

What are some possible risks of organizing an event?

  • Clash of event dates with other big events
  • High budget event but loss incurred
  • Run out of resources during an event
  • Environmental factors such as inclement weather conditions, disturbance caused to or by surrounding communities etc.
  • Traffic congestion and parking issues
  • Loss or damage to properties by human intervention, theft and audience misbehavior
  • Legal risks such as fundraising regulations, landholders’ approval and other permits.
  • Food Hygiene and Quality
  • Events that may arouse public sentiment or dispute on the basis of religion ,caste, creed or race
  • And FIRE!(risk to life)

Precautionary Measures

The rudimentary step in planning any event must include a feasibility survey. This feasibility test would create a comprehensive overview to identify and assess the advantages and risks of an event. It also finds a tentative solution to all the possible risks while staging an event.

This survey would include catering to issues such as:

  • Lack of time to organize an event: Rome was not built in a day; similarly a successful event cannot be planned and executed overnight. Time constraint is taken into account in this survey and the event is given ample time for preparation and meticulous planning.
  • Preparation of Budget: No organizer would like to squander money and resources. A crisp budget that entails only the essentials for a good event would enable the organizer to shun risks of a loss.
  • Quality of Food Served: Hygiene and food quality comes becomes one of the primary concerns of any organizer and the need for a trusted food catering service becomes a must.
  • Legal Rubrics: Even before planning an event, one must ensure that the event is conducted by abiding the law. Legal delinquencies will lead to permanent damage to an organizer’s career. The survey involves the process of listing down all the possible legal requirements for staging the event, at the very beginning, so that the game can be played without breaching the rules.
  • Safety to Life: Easily and readily accessible fire exits, ample fire extinguishers etc., are mandatory and mostly fall under the legal requirements to set up a big event. An incident management team (IMT) for large events is strongly recommended. The team must include a person trained in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at a minimum. Some events could require a full medical staff. There is also a need to establish adequate number staffs to regulate the audience and attend personal or specific issues in detail for large events.

Practically and mathematically, the chance that ‘something could go wrong’ is greater than the probability that ‘everything goes right’. So having contingencies and safety measures in hand is critical for any event. The way the organizing committee responds to a crisis will be remembered better than the crisis itself. The time spent by the organizers in risk management would definitely lead to a successful and safe event with positive feedbacks.

 

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