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February 13, 2023

How to select your stage provider?

15 questions you need to ask

Whether you are an occasional stage renter or in the market to buy, knowing how to pick the right equipment can be a real challenge. Faced with multiple accidents involving outdoor stage installations, the last few years have been hard on the outdoor event industry. Many stage providers have had to review their practices in an industry that, unfortunately, is still not law regulated in terms of design, fabrication and safety criteria. However, because of factors created by the weather and site conditions, temporary outdoor structures should preferably meet all the requirements as stipulated by the Building code.

In order to help you make an enlightened and wise decision, here is a list of question we strongly recommend you ask the company representative when shopping for your perfect stage. We have divided them in 3 simple categories: Supplier, Product and Safety & Emergency Procedures.

Note that some might only be applicable for rental and some other only when looking to purchase.

Supplier:
Pick a competent supplier able to demonstrate its knowledge and understanding of your needs and the work involved. Engineering of temporary structures is considered a specialized field. The design and engineering of such structures should only be carried out by qualified professionals with certified experience. Furthermore, the company should have given itself strict fabrication guidelines such as the Building code.

Product:
An outdoor structure must demonstrate safety, strength and stability, fully erected and during each phases of its erection. The structure must be built to withstand high to extreme winds and safely support rigging loads according to its operators brief. The product should be fully tested and undergo regular maintenance and step by step inspection.

Safety & Emergency Procedures:
No matter how small, in a crowded and confined space, the failure of any outdoor structure can have devastating effects. Therefore, the staging supplier must have an Operations Management Plan highlighting what measures needs to be taken in case of emergency (overloading, heavy rain or snow, ice, lightning, flood, fire, etc.) and the various operating stages of the structure when confronted with any of the previous situations. It is also a good thing to inquire about the work experience of the onsite technician and what he (she) or they is (are) responsible for.

Make sure that your stage provider gives you a satisfactory answer to all of the following:

Supplier

  • How many years of activity do the manufacturing company has?
  • What is the safety track record of the stage provider and was it ever involved in any major accident (if yes, ask for a list to be provided)?
  • Are the stages manufactured by workers that have the appropriate welding certifications (if they are not available, the stage might have been fabricated by unqualified manufacturer and workers.)?
  • What is the quality program of the company (ex.: ISO 9001, ESA, GSA, etc.)?
  • Ask for stamped document from a professional engineer, attesting that the equipment conforms to all applicable standards (ex.: CNB, IBC, etc.).

Product

  • What type of stage is it (hydraulic, constructed, hybrid)?
  • What are the manufacturing procedures and how does it work (ask for drawings, rigging plans, etc.)?
  • Have all the components used in the staging products been duly tested and does the company assume full responsibility of all components and sub-contractors?
  • What are the safety features of the equipment (ask about the redundancy of the said features)?
  • What is the roof made of (if it’s canvas, beware of its shape to avoid any water accumulation that could overload it)?
  • If the equipment isn’t self standing (this is the case with most constructed structures), how is it being anchored to the ground (how much weight and stabilizing cables are being utilized, ask for a signed confirmation by a professional engineer)?
  • What is the tolerable wind speed of the engineered structure (no less than 60 mph with wind wall and 90 mph without wind wall, exception made for structures lower than 16 feet of height and/or smaller than 517 square feet of surface area)?

Safety & Emergency procedures

  • What is the Operations Management Plan in case of equipment malfunction, difficult weather or any other hazardous situations?
  • How is the weather being monitored prior, during and after the event by your stage provider?
  • What is the work experience of the technician in charge of the stage set up and tear down and what is the extend of his/her responsibility?
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