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FIR-5.02 - Festival (Open) Seating

Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines on the approval of festival (open) seating plans for public assemblies.

This policy applies to all occupancies Portland Fire & Rescue serves for Fire Protection and Fire Prevention.

Festival seating, a form of crowd placement in which patrons stand rather than sit, is a common source of problems in public assemblies. These problems range from overcrowding to the injury of members of the audience by crowds surging against the stage, etc.
Most often the problem associated with festival seating is overcrowding. People paying to see concerts naturally tend to want to get closer to the stage. This tendency often draws people from the rear of the public assembly to the stage area. It also draws people from adjacent assigned seating and balcony areas. These actions cause crowds to be compressed, placing them in danger of injury in the event of fire, crowd surges or other problems.
Furthermore, the use of festival seating makes occupant load verification extremely difficult. Counting people in a large crowd is not possible to do reliably.
For all these reasons and others, the policy of the Fire Prevention Division regarding festival seating shall be:
1. Festival seating for less than 500 patrons (3500 square feet of open-plan area without seats) is allowed without special provisions provided seating plans are submitted and approved and all provisions of the public assembly permit process are complied with.
2. Festival seating for 500 or more patrons requires the following in addition to the provisions required under (1) above.
a. Payment for the time for Fire Inspector(s) and Fire Bureau Paramedic(s) at time and one-half overtime rate, from one-half hour before the public is admitted until one-half hour after the performance ends. Payments must be made before a public assembly permit is issued. Payment is to be by check, made out to "Fire Prevention Division." This fee is authorized by Section 31.20.060 (f) of the Fire Code and is in addition to required Public Assembly Permit Fees.
b. All tickets for patrons will be placed in festival seating must be clearly marked "festival seating."
c. The hands of all those to be placed in festival seating shall be distinctly and consistently marked with an easily discernible symbol.
d. Security personnel as approved by the Chief Fire Marshal or his designee shall be provided for crowd control.
* e. The following requirements are to be paid by the promoter:
  • 10,000 to 25,000 occupant load requires - one Fire Inspector and one Paramedic.
  • 25,001 and up occupant load requires - two Fire Inspector and two Parmedics.
  • 2,500 to 4,000 occupant load requires - one first aid station with minimum of two Red Cross trained personnel.
  • 4,001 to 9,999 occupant load requires - one first aid station with one BLS or ALS with minimum of two paramedics.
  • 10,000 to 20,000 occupant load requires - two aid stations with two ALS with minimum of four paramedics and two EMT’s.
  • 20,001 to 30,000 occupant load requires - two aid stations with two ALS with minimum of four paramedics and six EMT’s.
  • 30,001 and up occupant load requires - two aid stations with two ALS with minimum of six paramedics and eight EMT’s.
  • All paramedics and EMT’s are to be Oregon certified.
3. The experience gained with a particular occupancy operator, promoter or type of event shall all be taken into account when applying the requirements of paragraph #2 for events with 500 or more in festival seating. Continued good experience may be cited as reason for lessening some requirements. Unacceptable operating practices or experience for a public assembly shall be cited for requiring additional safety and security measures or restricting or removing the approval for the use of festival seating.

Filed for inclusion in PPD June 13, 2003.
Originally adopted by Fire Marshal as Fire Prevention Division Policy Manual Document E-2, effective May 2, 1997, revised May 12, 1997.