From Michael Morgenstern and the Bay Area Community, After the Oakland Ghost Ship fire: we created this short video on fire safety for event production. Please watch it — 4 minutes later you’ll be a lot more prepared.

>>> Here’s an important informational from our friends at Fest300. Read it, make a copy and share it with your friends….let Oakland be the last time tragedy strikes unawares….
[This is a repost of two articles – one from Fest300, and the other, a video made by Michael Morgenstern and his notes along with it. I’m posting these two in their entirety because I feel its important that you have the information here, as a resource….crediting the sources.]

Fest300 Article by: Joseph Pred
Published: December 7, 2016

The nation is mourning the loss of all the creative lights who died in the tragic Oakland warehouse fire during an electronic show this past weekend. Art spaces are incredible places for self-expression and connection, and are vital for the creatives in our extended, festival-related community. But while some venues are well run and safe, others may have all the red flags for being unsafe places to gather. However, there are lessons that can be learned so others don’t suffer the same fate.

One of the main challenges for any event is that many venues have risks or hazards that may not be immediately obvious to attendees. This is true of large, open-air festivals, established concert venues, nightclubs or smaller, improvised venues (permitted or not). So even if you say to yourself, “I never go to underground parties” these tips can help when the situation you’re in goes from calm to chaos.

Stay Sharp

Before you end up in the middle of a crowd, before something goes wrong, you need to develop the habit of being tuned in to your surroundings. This is called situational awareness; it’s a relaxed state of mind that allows you to recognize any unusual circumstances, hazards, and early stages of situations before they end up evolving into big trouble. Like any other skill, it requires practice, and the best time to use these skills is before problems emerge. When done right, this awareness can change the way you experience the everyday world, potentially saving your life and minimizing the chance you might be caught by surprise. Here is how you do it:

  • Be observant
  • Note the unusual
  • Consider options
  • Take action
  • Keep moving

Make a Plan

Take a few moments with your friends to make a plan before heading into the noise and crowds of any event. Make sure you have all your friends’ cell phone numbers, and decide in advance where you’ll meet up in case you get separated.

Let’s Bail

People tend to confirm problems/trouble several different ways before taking action. After sensing clues of a potential fire, such as hearing the fire alarm or smelling smoke, people often ignore these initial signs or spend time investigating, seeking information about the nature and seriousness of the situation, which creates a delay before starting evacuating [First International Symposium on Human Behavior in Fire, 1998, University of Ulster, Belfast, United Kingdom]. Doing this in fast-moving and dangerous situations increases your risk of injury or death. Be prepared to leave immediately at the first sight of trouble.

Make an Exit Strategy

Regardless of the kind of venue you’re at, whether it’s large or small, be sure when you arrive to look for at least two exits that are clearly marked, not blocked, and with a clear path to them. If you find yourself in a space that’s crowded and with only one exit? Leave the area and find a safer place to party.

Red Marks the Spot

Learn where first aid is located at your event before someone gets sick or hurt so you know how get help quickly if you need it.

Light Up

It doesn’t matter if you’re at an outdoor or indoor event, power failures due to technical problems, severe weather, or fires can plunge you into darkness. You can use your cellphone to provide some light, but carry a compact LED flashlight on your keychain or in your pocket so you can safely exit by lighting your way. After all, how many times has your phone died in the middle of a festival? A dedicated flashlight solves that problem and it’s useful for all sorts of other situations.

Say Something

If you notice something that seems wrong, dangerous, or not being taken care of, let staff know. It might sound trite, but you may very well save someone else from injury or death.


Joseph Pred is an emergency and risk manager who has worked everything from underground warehouse events to some of the world’s largest and most complex festivals, including Burning Man and Glastonbury. He also served as a Commissioner for San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission and regularly speaks at conferences on matters of public safety, risk, and temporary mass gatherings.

Read more about preparing for emergencies in Joseph’s book The Emergency Survival Manual.


Watch and share this crucial Party Fire Safety video, (above) made by Michael Morgenstern and the Bay Area community.

From Michael After the Oakland Ghost Ship fire, we created this short video on fire safety for event production.

Please watch it — 4 minutes later you’ll be a lot more prepared.

Bookmark it:
Links to more resources on the website.

With Joseph Pred, former Burning Man Emergency Services Operations Chief, and Andrew Ward, Co-Founder of Permission Granted, and containing the wisdom of a half-dozen expert consultants.

I hope you watch and re-watch before throwing an event. We need to keep our friends safe and alive.

To donate to the victims of the fire:


A quick note given the spate of evictions in warehouse communities this week: my event organizer friends are some of the most competent individuals there are. Artists need places to live, the world needs artists and art needs artist spaces. Evictions are not the answer.


Thanks to the team who helped get this video out so fast:

Director/Producer: Michael Morgenstern
Producer/Camera/Gaffer: Whitney Freedman
Camera: Dylan Love
Sound Recordist: Jon Sadrgilany
Production Assistant: Mark Rossetti
Also Featuring: Gaige Qualmann
Equipment Donation: Vanessa Carr

Editor: Chu-Chun Tao
Motion Graphics: Dillon Petrillo
Icon Design: Jeremy Yingling
Additional Animation: Adam J. Richman
Sound Editor & Mixer: Tyler Hafer
Sound by Disher Sound

== Script Consultants ==
Gerard Dsushi, firefighter
Nicki Jo Davis, firefighter
Carlos Barrera, fire cause & origin investigator
Thomas- Robert Lingley, licensed electrical contractor
Gui Cavalcanti

And thank you to Dave Davila, Michael Snook, Sena P Koleva, Joshua Goldbard, Ethan Currens, Beau Gaerlan, Joanna Miller, Erik Ep, Zachary Reiss-Davis, Anne Gomez, and Renata Foucré


Information from the video:

We recommend assigning at least one person to be in charge of fire safety at your event. This person should:
• Do a walk-through three days beforehand, checking equipment and replacing anything that’s broken.
• Develop an emergency plan: shutting down the music and evacuating people
• In the event of an emergency, evacuate people by yelling loudly and scanning the space for guests.

1) Unobstructed exits
• Each room should have two ways out. Don’t use the spaces with fewer than two ways out, and especially keep bars and dance floors away from them.
• Don’t overcrowd rooms. Even if you have 4 exits, packing a room tightly might mean there’s not enough time to exit in case of a fire.
Keep the exits, paths to the exits, doors, and gates (inside and outside) clear.

2) Exit signs
• Buy exit signs with internal batteries so they work if the power goes out.
• Test them and get new batteries if they don’t work.

3) Smoke alarms
• Rule of thumb: one every 900 ft²
• Especially important in areas that will be unoccupied, so you’re alerted if a fire starts in a room.
• Buy the ones with 10-year batteries.
• Test them before the party.

4) Fire extinguishers
• Rule of thumb: one every 3000 ft²
• Check their expiration date and pressure gauge
• Place them in prominent locations in case of an emergency.
• Once per year, turn them upside down and tap them.
• Remember PASS:
P – Point
A – Aim
S – Shoot
S – Sweep

5) Flammable objects
• Fewer flammable objects
• Keep anything flammable far away from flame
• Use LED lights instead of real candles
• Minimize paper decorations, paper cups
• Use fabric that is less flammable