Engineering firm representative provides insight into stage collapse


INDIANAPOLIS - The concert stage will be a central focus of the investigation into Saturday's scaffolding collapse at the Indiana State Fair.

A Cincinnati-based engineering company specializes in the analysis of staging, roof or truss systems. While they did not have anything to do with the stage that collapsed, they provide unique insight into how outdoor stages are designed.

"It's sickening every time this happens," said Richard Nix in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Nix, who works for Cincinnati-based engineering company Entertainment Structures Group, says high wind is always a concern for concert stages.

"Anything that's going to catch the wind is a high concern. We take into consideration the amount of wind surface area in the form of roof skins, in the form of video screens, in the form of speaker systems," said Nix.

While he would not speculate on the system used for the concert stage that crashed, he says engineers do consider which pieces of the stage that could be removed.

"In other words, we can take the sidewalls or rear walls down if there happens to be such things installed on the system that reduces the wind surface area that catches the wind," he said.

"Another procedure that might be taken is sound, lights and video screens might be lowered to take that pendulum action or to reduce the amount of load that's up on the roof itself," he added. "The entertainment industry does have standards and they do use safety standards for precisely these types of things."