Burning Man Table of Contents
This news report is provided by Greg X. Presley
Here's a look back from the future at the trend toward increased personal safety which is, of course, now the main focus of the Burning Man Festival.
[dateline 2008] Yes, Virginia, there is a Burning OSHA.
1991-1994 - the Dark Years. No rules, no limits, no concern for safety. Drive-by Shooting Gallery. The Exploding Man. Uncontrolled fires in many camps. Daredevils jump over the still-burning remains of the Man.
1995 - Uncontrolled rave camps flourish. Numerous vehicles bury themselves in the mud of Lake Lahontan. Helicopter evacuations of injured/ill participants occur daily. BLM and County Sheriffs step up presence in response to increasing threats to public safety. Black Rock Rangers formed as internal safety force. First crowd control efforts instituted during the Burn. Central First-Aid facilities established.
1996 - First Burning Man-associated fatality. Multiple serious injuries caused by reckless driving. Fire installations produce sheets of flame up to 100' high. HellCo theme panned as 'deeply disturbing'. First fence erected, to catch wind-blown trash. Pets prohibited after playa environment deemed too hostile for animals.
1997 - Move to Hualapai Playa. First restrictions on vehicle ingress and egress. Rave camps are banned. Uncontained fires prohibited in campsites. Restrictions on use of fire as part of art installations; 50 firefighters kept on standby alert. The Man ignited by professional pyrotechnicians. Fencing erected across playa, to catch trespassers.
1998 - Return to Black Rock Desert. Tiki torches banned as unsafe. Vehicle use within camp prohibited, except for ingress and egress. Re-entry fee first imposed. Mobile units added to First-Aid resources. First appearance of a 'Vehicle-Free' camp district. Fencing erected around entire event, to protect the environment.
1999 - Water installations no longer supported due to Health Dep't. concerns. The Man burns on Saturday night to avoid a post-Burn traffic jam. All BBQ's declared banned after the CMR Ranch uses one to explode a propane tank. Fencing is erected around The Man after a rogue attempt to burn him prematurely almost succeeds.
2000 - First 'Survival-Preparedness' inspections at gate. All fires banned except for The Man himself. Pedal Camp becomes the first Theme Camp denied placement because of an 'unsafe attitude'. Fencing is erected between 'Loud' and 'Quiet' sides of Black Rock City at request of a committee of safety-conscious participants. Separate tickets required to attend Burn Night, in response to continuing crowd-control problems.
2001 - Black Rock City declared an alcohol-and-drug-free zone. Loud noises banned after midnight. The Man burns on Monday night after concerns over crowd safety force a two-day delay. First City-wide pre-assigned camping. Fencing erected around those Theme Camps deemed unsafe by the new Safety Committee.
2002 - First appearance of Gated Theme Camps. Background checks run on ticket purchasers as a safety-prevention measure. All amplified noise is prohibited; drums used after midnight are confiscated. 'Snitch-on-a-Freak' program is instituted after rumors of an anti-safety backlash surface. Black Rock Rangers issued sidearms for their own protection. The Man burns but is doused with water immediately afterwards.
2003 - 'Survival' theme is abandoned as too hazardous; concessionaires brought in to ensure every participants' comfort and security. All private vehicles prohibited; the Black Rock Travel Agency provides shuttle service from Gerlach. Theme Camps required to provide their own Environmental Impact Statements. Public nudity banned as unsafe in the arid desert environment. A 10pm curfew is instituted city-wide after a Blue Light District party gets out of hand. Black Rock Rangers enforce the new 'No Unscheduled Events' rule. The Man emits colorful sparks but is not burned for safety reasons.
2004 - Black Rock City moves to Palm Springs after OSHA expresses grave concerns over the safety of the remote Black Rock Desert location. Black Rock Rangers become paid employees and acquire their first uniforms. The first event dress code is imposed. All Theme Camps required to be bonded and insured. The Man is built entirely from non-combustible materials; $250K is spent on special effects to simulate his being engulfed by flame.
2005 - Disney buys the rights to Burning Man(tm) and announces plans to erect 'Black Rock City World'. Chairman Michael Eisner dismisses safety concerns as belonging 'to another time, another place', and vows to make safety his #1 priority.
2006 - Howard Johnson's opens new 2800 room 'Burning Man' complex in Palm Springs, complete with mud baths and costumed employees. First package tours offered as 'The Safest Way to Enjoy Burning'. Theme for the Festival is "A Decade Without A Fatality".
2007 - Republican Party votes to hold 2008 National Convention in Black Rock City.
Thanks to Greg X. Presley.
Copyright © 1999 Greg X. Presley. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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