Belfast Vital: Man who has crowd’s health and safety in his hands

Event controller Paul Scott at the Boucher Road Playing Fields as preparations for Belfast Vital continue
Event controller Paul Scott at the Boucher Road Playing Fields as preparations for Belfast Vital continue
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Tonight around 35,000 music fans will descend on Boucher Road Playing Fields to watch the Foo Fighters in action.

The man with the unenviable task of making sure those concert goers at Northern Ireland’s largest music event of the summer have a good time but also stay safe is Paul Scott.

The view from the stage at Boucher Road Playing Fields

The view from the stage at Boucher Road Playing Fields

The 64-year-old from Dundonald has three decades of experience in gig safety, having first taken on the role as health and safety enforcement officer for Take That’s debut performance at the King’s Hall in the 1990s.

Explaining how much work goes into putting on an event for 35,000 such as tonight’s Foo Fighters gig at Belfast Vital, he said: “Work starts almost a year in advance, a huge amount of work is involved to ensure the safe delivery of such a huge event.

“You have to consider things like entry, exits, security, transport, emergency planning procedures and focus on safety specifics for the audience demographics for each show.

“The end goal is the smooth running of the event and the safety of everyone on site. That’s the most important.”

Around 35,000 fans are expected for the Foo Fighters concert tonight

Around 35,000 fans are expected for the Foo Fighters concert tonight

Asked if the safety of 35,000 weighs on his mind, Mr Scott said: “Very much so, it’s a very important role for any event.”

Describing the changes to concert health and safety over the years he said: “Since the 1980s safety systems have evolved, we work with civil, structural, fire engineers, electrical engineers, management plans, risk assessments, security. It’s a huge operation.”

Asked if he attended many gigs himself, Mr Scott said: “I don’t go to many shows to be honest, I’m always thinking of health and safety elements – it’s in my blood.”

Foo Fighters play Boucher Road Playing Fields tonight while Timmy Trumpet headlines the same venue on Saturday evening. Limited tickets for both shows are available.

Motorists should allow for some disruption to traffic in the south Belfast area when both gigs take place.

Extra public transport has been put on to accommodate concert goers.