Gov. Abbott’s task force on concert safety releases list of recommendations to prevent future tragedies like Astroworld Festival

TEXAS – Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that the Texas Task Force on concert safety has released their final report, which includes recommendations and strategies to ensure the safety of concertgoers.

On Nov. 10, 2021, Abbott launched the task force in response to the tragedy that took place at the Astroworld Festival that killed 10 concertgoers and injured more than 300 others.

The task force, which is led by Texas Music Office Director Brendon Anthony, consists of safety experts, law enforcement, firefighters, state agencies, music industry leaders, and others.

Abbott said the task force held several meetings and one-on-one discussions to analyze concert safety and develop ways to enhance security at live music events in Texas.

Among recommendations and findings, the Texas Music Office announced the creation of an online Event Production Guide, which is set to serve as a one-stop-shop for promoters to access existing legal requirements.

“I thank the Texas Task Force on Concert Safety for their commitment to safety and security for all concertgoers and for their collaboration with stakeholders on this critical report,” said Gov. Abbott. “The recommendations, findings, and solutions detailed in this report will help the State of Texas prevent another tragedy like that at Astroworld Festival from happening again.”

The task force produced the following recommendations:

Unified On-Site Command and Control (UCC): The task force strongly supports a requirement that event promoters determine which EMS, fire, and police agencies would respond to a 911 call on the site of their event and that those agencies be employed as UCC members.

Permitting: The task force strongly recommends that mass gathering events permitted by municipalities should follow permit guidelines and best practices for unincorporated areas that are outlined in state statutes. The task force also recommends that local authorities stop the show when it is determined that an event has been organized without a permit or has breached the bounds of the issued permit. Additionally, the task force recommends the implementation of a universal permitting template and that any template includes a standardized checklist for County Judges responsible for issuing permits.

Training: The Event Production Guide will include a list of robust training resources for promoters, staff, and first responders for site walkthrough drills, security briefings, communication trees, show-stop triggers and responses, and more.

Planning with Risk Assessment: The task force recommends a Concert Attendee Code of Conduct which should be part of the ticketing process and make clear what behaviors will lead to ejection. The task force also recommends that venues communicate with other venue representatives that have hosted the artist before. Event promoters should partner with artists to encourage safety, since messaging from the artist can be uniquely persuasive for fans. In addition, the Event Production Guide will include best practices for event design and crowd control.

Centralized Resources: The Event Production Guide will host a large collection of resource documents that inform many of the task force’s recommendations.

For the full report, click here.

HPFFA president’s statement on completion of concert safety recommendation:

“I want to thank Governor Abbott for the opportunity to serve on this task force on behalf of the nearly 4,000 men and women of the Houston Fire Department and all firefighters represented by the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters. I also extend a thank you to the other experts on the panel for the due diligence given to this subject. “There would have been no lives lost if the policies contained in this report had been in place last fall, especially the requirement of a unified command and control for all first responders working the event. In the future, the Houston Fire Department must be the entity designated to fulfill that responsibility. In addition, it is essential there be a consistent permitting process that establishes which agency has the authority to shut down an event in the face of life-threatening circumstances. Together, these recommendations will ensure effective coordination and communication during any emergency response, while also increasing safety for concertgoers. This is exactly the outcome I sought at the beginning of the task force review. “The task force has provided solid solutions for preventing another tragedy. I will work with the governor and his staff to make sure they become law in Texas.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “I think there are things we certainly can work with that I don’t necessarily have any angst about anything that I’ve read in it.”

But both the Harris County Fire Marshal and the Harris County Judge disagreed with one major finding that Harris County had any jurisdiction over permitting requirements.

“There’s now a debate between a critical element that contributed to this tragedy,” said crowd safety expert Paul Wertheimer.

Wertheimer has been a crowd safety expert for more than 40 years.

“After the E2 nightclub disaster in Chicago in 2003, 21 people died. This is the report produced so many pages I can’t count them,” said Wertheimer. “Also, the Cincinnati WHO concert tragedy reported 11 dead in 1980 which is the first guidance for live entertainment crowd safety, a 70-page report with index.”

He says crowd safety guidelines have been around for decades and this report does not have any significant changes with specific timetables.

He says the only way to prevent this type of tragedy in the future is through tough legislation and criminal charges.

“I would be very concerned if I were a parent sending any young adult to a concert in Texas until they figure this out,” says Wertheimer.

The Harris County Judge is calling for a more detailed account of what happened that night.

The mayor says a different task force with the city and county will now submit a full report of their own.

No word yet on when that will be complete.

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