The critical importance of fire protection in stadiums

Football stadium at night.

Those who work in events that take place in large-scale public venues, like stadiums, have a lot on their plate at any one time. The ability to effectively manage an event to not only be profitable and fun but also provide safety for all those involved requires a huge amount of careful planning – especially when it comes to fire protection in stadiums.

There are also unique challenges that organisers must take into consideration: the need to protect the public, avoid a panicked rush and meet stringent fire safety compliance and regulations, just to name a few.

Luckily, our fire professionals here at DEM Fire have experience supporting large-scale projects in stadiums. So let’s explore the importance of fire protection in stadiums and the unique challenges that can occur.

Ensuring compliance and safety in large public venues

Our team has worked on the fire safety maintenance of Stadium Australia (formerly known as Allianz and ANZ Stadium) for the better part of a decade – an enormous yet satisfying project that took in-depth logistical coordination and high-level fire safety expertise.

So we’ve learned a thing or two about managing compliance in a large-scale project. One thing we know for sure: when you’re running events or sporting matches in a large stadium, meeting fire compliance can feel overwhelming without expert support.

Our Compliance and Accounts Manager, Mick McGrath, can share insight into the sheer number of fire assets required for large stadiums, with Stadium Australia having “approximately 400 fire extinguishers, 200 hydrants, over 200 hose reels, over 1000 detectors, 20 sprinkler valve sets and 1400 fire doors.” 

These assets require rotational testing and checking to ensure they’re all in working order with no wear and tear. They also need to meet any changes to fire safety regulations that might have occurred since installation.

Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of stadium operators to ensure facilities are compliant with industry standards and that attendees are safe. This requires a comprehensive approach that includes proper planning, installation and maintenance of fire protection systems.

Unique challenges for fire protection in stadiums

There are a range of fire safety measures we can use successfully in a stadium or large public venue. We assess each particular site to deliver the most suitable measures, which allows us to implement alternative solutions in line with the individual requirements of each venue.

However, stadiums and venues – or anywhere there are large crowds – have additional unique challenges that can impact fire protection plans.

For anyone who has been part of a large crowd, you might be familiar with the atmosphere. While most crowd atmospheres can be vibrant and lively, there are also crowd dynamics that can be unruly to the point of being dangerous.

Large stadiums can make it difficult to locate and effectively extinguish fires quickly, plus they may have more complicated layouts than a typical building, which can lead to further issues like evacuation challenges or crowd control problems.

High occupancy numbers in stadiums and large venues increase the risk of injury or harm, and it can be challenging to create an evacuation plan that caters to the unpredictability of a panicked crowd dynamic – which can be just as dangerous as a fire hazard. It also makes it harder for emergency services to access the areas they need to access to get any fires under control.

Any fire protection system needs to consider all these factors, as well as crowd density and potential bottleneck areas. But crowd management can also begin before any emergencies, using tools like stadium policies to eject any unruly participants who might contribute to a dangerous crowd dynamic.

The design and construction of stadiums often include a range of different materials, which can make it harder to select the most appropriate fire suppression system. Not to mention the frequent use of special effects such as pyrotechnics and smoke machines, which add further challenges.

Creating a comprehensive fire protection plan

Working with fire and essential services experts like our team at DEM Fire will create a comprehensive fire protection plan for your stadium that covers all the unique considerations and requirements you need.

We’ll provide detailed evacuation plans and Annual Fire Safety Statements and include regular fire safety maintenance as part of our holistic approach, to make sure your venue is consistently compliant and fire safe.

Contact us to see how we can help.

Contact DEM Fire & Essential Services Group

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