Don’t Poke the Sleeping Bear

Don't poke the fire marshal

A phone survey question opened with, “Describe the relationship between tent rental companies and Fire Marshals”. After two dozen phone conversations with tent companies and Fire Marshals, rest assured there were a number of animated opinions and recommendations, but there was one shared concern “lack of communication”.

Our ongoing survey still does not clarify who is poking the bear but we simplified the current data survey into three different pokes.

Communication Poke:

The majority of the respondents in this category advocated that they had a great relationship and mention there was no need to poke the sleeping bear. This response came from both sides and communication between the two was the contributing factor for developing a conjugal working relationship. One Fire Marshal stated that, when dealing with the “A” team for a large event, if a problem became apparent both sides resolve the issue thru communication, documentation, and trust. The next level event managed by the “B” team, when a problem occurred, creating a solution became a struggle and open communication would have easily resolved the issue.

Aggressive Poke:

This is the poke that tends to receive the most headlines or banter at trades shows and press releases. Both sides tell stories about the confrontational meetings, intimidation, and downright rude comments.  But at least there was communication and that’s a beginning.

head in the sand discussing tent permtis


The Non-poke was given the title of the most dangerous situation. Because there was very limited attempt at communication before or after and event both sides have their heads stuck in the ground oblivious to their surroundings.

To add more fuel to the fire the new IBC codes will be rolling out in 2015.The sleeping bear is going to wake up, present you with the 2015 code guidelines, and go back into hibernation until 2018.

Each municipality has the option to amend the 2015 IBC building codes there is an opportunity to amend an existing or variation to the new codes. If you feel it necessary you can schedule a meeting to explain your position on a specific regulation”. Bring documentation to prove your point and if you need assistance ask industry associations and manufactures for suggestions and documentation. Assemble the data and present your case in a professional manner.

The alternative is a statement from a fire marshal on the IBC coding committee “You can talk to them and they can endorse code regulation that is agreeable for both sides, or you can work with 3000 different interruptions of the same code”.

The stick is in your hands – poke away!

Respectfully Yours
Jim Erickson