Ballasting Safety for Frame Tents used in Fireworks Displays

An experienced tent rental professional knows what amount of water barrels are required to properly secure a frame tent – BUT DOES THE CUSTOMER?

During the 2 weeks leading up to the 4th of July,  many rental companies shift from weddings and college graduations to service the annual fireworks tent business.  This blog is specifically about fireworks sales,  frame tents and ballasting safety. ballasting safety for frame tents used in fireworks displays

For the most part there are two big players who service this segment of the industry, TNT, and Phantom.  They are multi-million dollar companies that not only sell fireworks, but they rent tents for their franchised vendors as well.  This seasonal push generates thousands of tent rentals in a short period of time.  The rental period for fireworks sales is 2-3 weeks long.  For most parts of the US this mean’s the tents are up through the last third of the spring storm season.

Both Phantom and TNT have allied themselves with the big box chains. TNT with Walmart and Phantom with K-Mart. In most markets areas, the majority of the Walmart locations require ballasting.  Although this creates more rental costs, the high volume of store traffic offsets this cost.  The fireworks vendors look first at price, and service, with no need for shiny new tents.

“Tents without adequate ballasting will often start sliding across the blacktop, till eventually the legs curl under collapsing some or all of the tent. When the water dumps out, the risk of being picked up by the wind is very real.”

Experienced Tent rental companies promote safe tenting. Consequently when they price the job it will include the proper ballasting, not the cheapest or the easiest. This is learned from the  training provided by trade associations like IFAI, MATRA, ARA, business experience that comes from  years of tenting in all types of weather.

Trade publications articles for the tent industry are another good source for on-going education.  One example is an article on Safe Tenting I submitted for InTents Magazine some years ago.

For many of the newer and part-time tent companies the thought of tent ballasting may not even come up.  They got their start staking small frame and pole tents on un-paved surfaces or blacktop.  When they get calls also for 20 and 30 wide frames that can’t be staked the alternative’s are overlooked, it’s not their niche.  They have tents available and are hungry for July business so they bid the job without knowing what the “industry best practices” are.  When they get the job and do the installation their left to scramble to find water barrels and water.
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“These are examples of widely used ballasts for small frame tenting. Note the water pallet is probably 3 times the capacity of a water barrel. More important than its size however is its larger surface area which makes it much less likely to slide.”

In the Central PA market over the past 5 years, several of the more experienced tent rental companies  have spent hours educating the fireworks companies to understand the product they offered.  Each time they quote a job, they are also educating the customer on the steps involved in a proper installation as well as the consequences of an improper installation.  Over time this on-going emphasis on “safe tenting” has raised the safety awareness of the tent customers who can in turn demand proper ballasting from the smaller Mom and Pop rental stores that want a piece of the business.  As a result in our region, most of the tents being installed without stakes have the necessary ballasting required for the tent size and site conditions.

What can we learn from this? If you want to make a difference in your market handle the pre-sale process as thoroughly as the sale itself and never let “price” over-ride “safety”. The Fireworks companies in Central PA did not want their stands to blow down in a summer storm and now they won’t.

Yet other parts of the country, as I write this,  tents are being installed, “ready to fly”!

What’s going on in your market??