St. Louis May Change Weather Rules for Big Tents

May 4, 2012

St. Louis public safety director Eddie Roth plans to rewrite regulations to require evacuations of large public tents during severe weather warnings after a man was killed and dozens more were injured when a party tent collapsed near Busch Stadium.

Roth said he will wait for a report from fire and building inspectors on tent collapse at Kilroy’s Sports Bar on Saturday, but that the review is “more as a lesson learned than a police report,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Alfred Goodman of Waterloo, Ill., died of head and neck injuries when a storm blew the tent from its moorings and pushed it against a railroad trestle.

“People have no more business being under a tent in severe weather than they do being out in the open,” Roth said Tuesday. “We need to learn from this incident.”

Currently, the city requires an establishment that operates a large tent to have an employee monitor conditions and address concerns that public officials might have but the rule does not specifically mention weather. Tents covering at least 1,000 square feet for public use must be strong enough to withstand 90 mph wind.

That’s an industry standard but inspectors have no way to test the tent for structural strength, Roth said.

Roth said he probably will require evacuation plans whenever the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning or a severe thunderstorm warning. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for St. Louis about 40 minutes before the tent collapsed.

Kevin Broz, owner of Sun Rental Inc. of Bridgeton, said Tuesday that his crew properly installed the tent.

“Those things are not designed to be storm shelters,” Broz said.

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