Former FEMA Chief's Firm Starts State Fair Investigation

Witt Associates, headed by CEO James Lee Witt, has been hired to conduct an independent analysis of the Indiana State Fair's preparedness and response to the Aug. 13 storm and collapse of a stage just before a concert.

An independent investigation has begun into the Indiana State Fair's preparedness and response to a storm that toppled equipment from a stage Aug. 13 just before a concert was set to begin, resulting in at least six deaths. Witt Associates of Washington, D.C., is conducting it.

James Lee Witt, CEO of Witt AssociatesThe firm's CEO is James Lee Witt, who was FEMA director from 1993 to 2001 under President Clinton. He also served as CEO of the International Code Council from 2003 to 2006. His firm conducted a similar investigation into a Chicago high-rise building fire in 2003 in which six government employees died.

The Indiana State Fair Commission has hired Thornton Tomasetti, a New York engineering company, to coordinate and conduct the structural portion of the investigation, and Gov. Mitch Daniels, who spoke at an Aug. 15 memorial service for the stage collapse victism, asked the state's Inspector General to assign several investigators to the State Fair Commission to assist with fact-finding and documentation. Witt Associates staffers arrived on site last Friday.

"With Thornton Tomasetti conducting the structural investigation and Witt Associates reviewing decision-making and preparedness, we believe we have the best people in America looking at every angle of the accident," said Andre Lacy, chairman of the commission.

"We'll be looking at all factors. We'll be looking at weather information, we'll be looking at what had been done in terms of planning, and we'll be looking at individual responsibility because it was such a big production. You have multiple agencies with jurisdiction involved," said Charles Fisher, a vice president of Witt Associates.

"These tragedies we know are rare, and at the same token, we know from every tragedy will come some positives, and I think that's the role we're going to look at," said Kenneth Mallette, Witt Associates' vicepPresident for National Business Development Preparedness Services.

The firm's announcement said it is unclear how long it will take Witt Associates' investigators to prepare a report for the commission and Gov. Daniels.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - March 2019

    March 2019

    Featuring:

    • HEARING PROTECTION
      Not Your Grandpa's Ear Muffs 
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Far Too Many Fatal Falls
    • DRUG TESTING
      Marijuana in the Workplace
    • FALL PREVENTION
      Ladder Safety Tips
    View This Issue