Tips for working at festivals


Longterm Registered User
As the festival season is nearly upon us I'm well overdue writing this which I promised some time ago. On this thread I covered some aspects of how festivals work with the various companies and subbies. Hopefully here I'll cover the rest you need to know.

Firstly, the one thing I mentioned later in the above thread but needs re-emphasising. Keep a record of the hours you did for your own reference, with so many people coming and going, positions changing, overtime etc. Its easy for companies to make mistakes. Its also easy for companies to not bother paying you. If you're working for a company you haven't worked for before then make up your own timesheet in advance, write your hours in as you do them and get a supervisor to print and sign their name to verify that you did those hours. Don't rely on their timesheet as if they decide not to pay you you'll have no record of that.

How does it work with different security companies on one site?
I touched on this in the other thread so read that first. In addition to that each major company is likely to have its own radio channel and separate controls, however those controls will be sitting next to each other in the control room along with the police. I've heard a call go out for response on our channel and a call go out from the response company's control practically as soon as the person requesting it to control has said "Over". In the time before and after live festival however, everyone may be on one channel as they have to pay to licence each channel. This can include production staff, stage crew etc. Don't expect everyone to follow the same radio procedures that you do.
Make sure that you know the phonetic alphabet as you're likely to need it for spelling car registrations and other details over the radio. Radio procedure varies a little from company to company, so use certain code words others use different ones. Make sure you know the correct procedures and codes and don't start using codes and abbreviations you have been given in the assumption that everyone uses the same.

Do work together as a team and help out other security, don't decide you're not going to radio something in because its not in your area. However, bear in mind that some security might not be trustable. If you're on a gate you don't let someone in just because another security company says you should without it going through your control.

Customer Service.
Whilst technically the customer is the person making money out of the festival, at a practical level the customer is the people attending the festival - the punters. Your job is to allow them to have a good time within the law without causing a nuisance for others. I have seen some horrendous, stuck-up, narrow minded behaviour from security at festivals. You can not expect people to dress like they would in a night club. Just because people wear trainers and jeans and have a bit of mud on them does not make them a bad person. Just because they have dreadlocks, homemade clothes etc. does not make them a troublemaker. Treating people like a piece of shit just because you don't approve of their dress sense is totally unprofessional and generally not helpful. These people have paid to come here or are working on site you have no right to treat people badly unless they are behaving badly. If you don't like it then don't work at festivals.

Your shift
You'll probably be out on shift for 12 hours or more. You need to take everything you might need. Enough food and water, extra layers of clothing, waterproofs, medication etc. You'll probably be on your feet all that time, you might if you're very lucky get to sit down for a while to have something to eat. It could rain, it could be sunny, don't believe the weather forecast. Have sunglasses, suncream, waterproofs etc. Take a notepad and a couple of pens. Its useful to have a multi-tool of some sorts, some companies allow this others don't, so check.
Make sure you know your duties (write down key points such as which passes are allowed), your callsign if you have a radio, and who your supervisor is. Try to get a map and be aware of what is going on in your area and what other positions are near you. Also, remember that you are being paid to do security, not update your Facebook, play Candy Crush or listen to music.

The Night shift.
Its the countryside (usually), whilst some areas may be lit others may not be. It may get very, very dark. Take a torch. If you are right next to a tower light it will attract any flying bugs and insects from hundreds of metres around. I have seen some big tough city doorstaff getting very scared at being in almost complete darkness or being surrounded by flying little things.
As its night, until your body adjusts to night shift your subconscious dreaming mechanism will be working. Also, things look different at night, certain things will reflect more of the barely visible infra-red range than others. These things combine to mean that you can see things that aren't really there. (Have fun! :) )
The best way to stay awake during the more boring parts of the night is to keep moving. Do stretching exercises, press-ups, walk around a bit. Also, eating and drinking tends to keep you awake so snack through the night, don't have all your food at once.

Your own security
Keep your wits about you at all time. People will try to nick your kit and your radio. Don't be tempted to take your eye off the ball just because nothing seems to be going on, particularly at night. Don't take any valuables you don't absolutely need. Don't assume your tent is secure just because its in a security compound.

You will probably be in a farmers field, it will not be a nicely kept commercial camp site. The ground may be rough, the grass or crops may not have been cut nice and short. The toilets and showers will vary from portaloos to Portacabin style portable toilets. If you're lucky they'll be emptied regularly, if you're really lucky they'll get cleaned. The cleanliness standards of some on your security site will leave a lot to be desired. Its quite regular for people to leave rubbish in toilets and showers despite having to walk past bins to get to their tent. Just because others are slobs, there's no need for you to copy them.

Some companies have a marquee with camp beds in, others use a marquee with pop-up tents, most will just tell you to bring your own tent which you put in the field.
Get a decent tent, allow at least one extra person space, ie. one person needs a 2 person tent. Otherwise you will have no room for kit. however, don't have a huge tent as room will be short and some companies will have tiny pop-ups for those whose tents are too big (some won't have any alternative but prevent you from putting your tent up if it too big). A big tent is also more likely to break n the wind and will be colder at night. Get something with 2 layers which will help with warmth and waterproofs and a porch which is good for storing muddy boots and wet waterproofs. Don't get anything less than 3000 Hydrostatic head (HH), anything less than that is showerproof only. Put your tent up before you go and check all the seams are taped correctly and all the bits are there. If you have no room at home just use the local park. Guy ropes are there for a reason, they need to go out at about 45degrees from the tent to hold it up in the wind otherwise the poles are likely to break, you also need to tighten them regularly.Pegs go in at about 45degrees with the bottom pointing in towards the tent. On a sunny day a tent acts like a greenhouse, one day I put some water on some couscous, went for a shower and it was cooked by the time I got back, no fuel needed! You'll be sleeping in that if you're on nightshift. Sunny days also mean cold nights as there' no clouds to keep the warmth in. Put silver emergency blankets over the tent if you're on nights, keeps the light and heat out. Check the ground before you pitch for rocks, sharp stuff and smelly stuff.

You need a 2 season sleeping bad at least (down to 5degrees), women get colder at night so bear that in mind. Its useful to have jogging bottoms and a sweatshirt you can wear in bed for extra warmth. A mummy bag is far better than the square ones, it will be much warmer. You need something under your sleeping bag. Roll mats are good and cheap but the squishier they are the less protection from lumps in the ground you'll get, there'll also be less insulation. The sort of airbeds that are similar dimensions as a normal mattress are horrendous. They are heavy to carry, take ages to blow up tend to go down after a few nights and get very cold. Self-inflating airbeds are so much better in all respects. The cheap camp beds that have the wire legs are actually much more comfortable than the more expensive fold-up ones which tend to be too rigid. But if you're heavy the cheap ones may not be suitable. Putting a silvery emergency blanket under your bed will improve warmth.

This varies from company to company and festival to festival. You will probably have some access to cooked food but that may be a burger van. You might have a staff canteen in the security compound or shared with others. Food may be free or subsidised. If you're there much before or after the main event you may have to provide your own food so check what's needed and always bring some snacks of your own. Keep any food in mice proof containers. Throw any food waste and wrappers in bins and don't leave it in or near your tent as this will attract the little buggers. If they get in your tent they will wander over everything leaving a trail of meningitis infected urine everywhere.

Water from the pipes on site is safe. However run it until its cold as if its been sitting in pipes above ground it can be dodgy. Also rinse around the tap first as some people using it may not be hygienic. Clean around the rim/nozzle or your water bottle everyday otherwise bacteria will build up on it. Keep hydrated but don't drink more than 250ml of liquid every 15mins or it just goes straight through. Also make sure you are also taking salt and sugar otherwise you just dilute the electrolytes in your blood and it feels rather like dehydration, so you drink more and make it worse.

Usually you will supply your own boots and trousers and the company will provide the upper body clothing with their logo on it. Get some decent boots that are waterproof. Shoes or high heeled boots will not do (yes I have seen both). Combat trousers, workwear or hiking trousers are best. Generally best to have something with quite a few pockets in. Make sure your boots get cleaned and polished each day otherwise they'll start letting water in. Although the company will be supplying upper body stuff, its best to take extra layers in suitable colours and a decent waterproof (usually black). Waterproof trousers are a good idea too as these will not usually be provided. You'll also need decent gloves (black ones).

You'll need a decent daysack. You need to fit everything in it you'll need for the day. Its also good to have a few pockets in it to make things more accessible. Put everything inside in a plastic bag to keep it waterproof. Its also handy to have a plastic bag you can put over the bag. When on shift put it out of the way of punters, preferably somewhere not visible, otherwise it will get nicked.
I totally forgot, the most vital thing that is absolutely essential. Take your own toilet roll! Some will be provided but it gets nicked and used up. You really don't want to be getting to the loo and finding there's none there. I take it off the roll and just fold it up into batches of sheets, easier to carry that way. I have a days supply in a plastic bag to take out with me on shift.

If anyone's interested I'll do a Q&A session one evening in the chat room. Any takers?
I totally forgot, the most vital thing that is absolutely essential. Take your own toilet roll! Some will be provided but it gets nicked and used up. You really don't want to be getting to the loo and finding there's none there. I take it off the roll and just fold it up into batches of sheets, easier to carry that way. I have a days supply in a plastic bag to take out with me on shift.

If anyone's interested I'll do a Q&A session one evening in the chat room. Any takers?

Baby wipes LW, baby wipes!!!!

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And sunscreen.....Don't forget the sunscreen. ( for the rare occasion when you get a bit of sunshine) ;-)

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Baby wipes LW, baby wipes!!!!

Sent from my iPhone using Close Protection World
Yes, the various types of cleansing wipes are damned useful, a few to carry with you (I cut some in half for cleaning hands, that's not miserly its just so I can carry more), and plenty in your tent for when the showers get too icky or the queues are to long. I also use Tea Tree wipes for my feet as Tea Tree is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal so it helps prevent athletes foot.

As for sun-cream check its "once opened life" (little symbol on the tube showing a tub with the lid lifted). The chances are if it's last years it will be useless. Also remember that you need to re-apply it after the number of minutes for the factor (ie. factor 30 needs reapplying every 30mins). Its also a good idea to have some sort of after sun, I always go for Aloe Vera stuff, it is extremely good for burns but is good for the skin in general, (it also doesn't make you smell like a pansy).