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Bill requiring Indiana stage inspections advances

January 17, 2012

All temporary outdoor stages like the one that collapsed last year at the Indiana State Fair, killing seven people, would have to be inspected before they are used for performances under a bill approved Tuesday by a state Senate committee.

The bill also would require the state's building safety commission to set standards for the stages and equipment being used for outdoor performances.

Sponsor Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said he and other legislators were surprised to learn that no inspections were required for the large stage blown over by strong winds before an Aug. 13 concert at the state-owned fairgrounds. Along with the seven killed, more than 40 people waiting for the country duo Sugarland to perform were injured.

"You go to a performance, you just assume all's well and that this has been put up in a safe manner and you're not going to have to worry about any danger," Lanane said.

The Senate's homeland security committee approved the bill Tuesday, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. The new law would require applicants to submit proof to the state that a qualified inspector had checked out the stage.

Indianapolis code enforcement director Rick Powers told the committee that city regulations require inspections for the dozens of temporary stages being put up for activities connected with the Feb. 5 Super Bowl. He suggested the bill be expanded to include temporary indoor stages.

Lanane said not all cities and counties have temporary stage regulations like Indianapolis and the new law would set statewide standards.

The Indiana State Fair Commission has decided to permanently move concerts from its outdoor grandstand to the Pepsi Coliseum, which is scheduled for renovations before the 2014 fair. Organizers have decided to have the 2012 fair's concerts at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.

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