State Fair Opens With New Public Safety And Weather Plan

By Maureen Mespell

August 3, 2012 Updated Aug 3, 2012 at 5:31 PM EDT

Indianapolis, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- The Indiana State Fair opens this weekend with a new public safety and weather plan.

With the anniversary of the fatal stage rigging collapse, officials are ready with a the new safety plan at the fairgrounds.

At the state fair grounds where there was disaster, there is now determination.

David Shaw - Chief Operating Officer says that this is where he wants to be, and if it wasn't he'd fix it.

And fixing it is why Shaw is at the Old Grandstand Stage as the fair's new Chief Operating Officer.

Security is his top job.

When asked if there is a whole lot more heightened sensitivity to weather now, Shaw says, "Absolutely."

Inside the new operations center, Contractor Stewart Williams says, "We can give them an idea, hey, how fast is the cell moving, when we think it's going to be, and when we think it's going to be a danger at this spot."

Telvent, the contractor now runs a weather station there.

And with the new strategy for quickly managing that information, it can be passed to people who are making decisions about emergency evacuations.

"There's a clear line of communication," says Shaw, "a clear chain of command from who is accountable for making the decision to evacuate a facility to evacuate a building to cancel a concert."

Investigators found a break in that chain last year that led to delays getting warnings to the crowd.

Shaw says that now he is the one accountable for making that decision at all times.

Unlike before, the P.A. announcer now sits in the command center too ready to broadcast a warning given by Shaw who will be right next to him instead of across the fairgrounds.

Shaw also says that no band or performer has a say as to whether to show goes on.

There are also new signs telling fairgoers how to text the Command Center to report a security issue.

The text will pop up on the screen.

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