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Event Tent Vendors Put Up Questions About Changing Rules

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some Springfield business owners are concerned about how proposed could impact events held within city limits, and their livelihood.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some Springfield business owners are concerned about how proposed could impact events held within city limits, and their livelihood.

Event tent vendors are receiving letters this week from the Springfield Fire Department about changing regulations that are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2015. A fire department spokesperson said the proposed regulations could change after a meeting next week, where vendors will be allowed to give feedback.

"It's kind of my bread and butter, our home turf and backyard and what we've spent the 19 years building as our core is Springfield," David Woosley, owner of All Events Rental, said.

Woosley said he's worried though, his business could be at stake if the changes stick.

"It's going to require us, and I have the guidelines right here, it's going to require a sight inspection, it's going to require that we hire an engineer for every set up," Woosley said. "It makes it inconceivable. Plus it's dramatically increasing the cost. We've contacted four engineers and not a one has been able to give us an answer yet."

In the letter, the fire department cites a concern for weighing down the tents, saying ballasting estimations from vendors vary too much to create a more comprehensive guideline.

"Fire marshals have witnessed tents secured by water barrels sliding across parking lots, they have found tents that were tied to manhole covers, vehicles and telephone poles," Assistant Fire Chief Randy Villines said in the letter. "We simply cannot be confident of the safety of the public."

Woosley said he's not at all opposed to sensible regulations, and said his business has always complied with those. However, he said some of the proposals he's read about in the new guidelines go beyond safety and could bring too big a burden to his business.

He said a rule that would change the permitting process so that vendors are responsible for obtaining them instead of the clients themselves puts undue onus on the businesses.

"(That) creates a lot of issues. It creates some liability issues," Woosley said. "We're not in control of the event. So once we install the tent, how they set up the tent, what they do under the tent once we leave is out of our control."

Local tent vendors are invited to participate in a meeting with the Springfield Fire Department at its 830 North Booneville headquarters at 10:30 a.m. on July 31.

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