The most notable change in 2007 was the use of biodiesel in our infrastructure generators. We rent a total of 22 generators, ranging in size from 45Kv all the way up to 300Kv and we were able to run B100 (100% biodiesel rather than a mix) in all except the largest generators. We received the go-ahead to use a 5% blend in the two large 300Kv generators. As we negotiated with several vendors this year, one of our primary criteria for selection was the percentage of biodiesel that they would permit for use in their equipment. Ultimately we only found one company that would sanction the use of B100.
The switch to biodiesel was not without problems and even though we were aware of the potential issues on the front end, we still got caught. The main thing that affected our infrastructure was the clogging of fuel filters. Biodiesel is a wonderful solvent and it scours the fuel tank of any build-up that may have accumulated over its service-life. This material takes a while to clear out of the system and if you are not prepared to regularly change out filters, you are going to have problems. We do have a service technician on-site to maintain our equipment but he was initially unable to keep up and we had several key units down at the same time. We will guard against this problem in the future this was the only issue directly attributable to the fuel change.
DPW Dispatch resides in a 40 foot semi-trailer at the DPW Depot. The trailer is one of the first “structures” to take its place on the playa each year, and the crew of seven operates around the clock for approximately one month. The Dispatch office is a clearinghouse, welcome wagon, a beacon in the night, resource allocator/provider, shower monitor, and activity director all under one roof. Dispatch members are drawn from a large pool comprised of newbies, returning dispatchers, retirees from other Burning Man departments, even several Senior Staff guest dispatchers. This reservoir of institutional knowledge again served the city well in 2007.
Dispatch monitors multiple radio channels to provide support and coordination services to many departments within the city (as well as the work ranch and Gerlach office). Dispatch staff is integral in helping to oversee many Depot and DPW services including receiving shipments, potable and non-potable water, portable toilets, and all forms of fuel.
Again in 2007, the team had responsibility for emergency services dispatch before and after the event. The erection of a new, larger radio tower on the work ranch made two-way communication more reliable this year which was a blessing. Even more radios were added to the fleet around event time.
Interdepartmental cross-pollination continued to create increased communication and understanding of the operations of Black Rock City. Our primary overnight Dispatcher also served as an emergency services Dispatcher, another of our Dispatchers works on the center circle electrical crew, and Burning Man’s IT department provided unprecedented support on many levels.
While emergency response plans have been in place for many anticipated events for quite some time, this year’s reality drill of the unexpected early Man burn found DPW crews ready and able to respond rapidly and appropriately. Despite the early hour of the morning (and Mother Nature’s incredible display of a total lunar eclipse), DPW members aided in coordination of response to help with containment and site safety – ranging from directing radio traffic, to resource allocation and delivery of cones and barricades to form a perimeter.
Dispatch also provided after-hours support to Black Rock City’s Gate Crew.
Heavy Equipment and Transportation
Each year pre-event, The Transportation Team moves our entire infrastructure from Burning Man’s storage and production facility to the event site on the playa.
Upon arrival to the playa, The Transportation Team and The Support Services Team coordinate with every event department to facilitate the correct placement of all assets utilized during the event. This year was both a success and a challenge for these teams, as demand for services grew to a level never before seen in the history of Burning Man.
The 2007 Support Services Team was heavily utilized, helping many artists on-playa to complete complicated art installations. The unforeseen event of the Man being set afire early dictated that Support Services shift into overdrive and complete the task of removing the damaged Man and re-seating the new Man 48 hours later.
The 2007 Transportation Team saw more requests for assistance than ever before. The Transportation Team deployed to assist with the aftermath of the unscheduled Man burn, delivering necessary equipment for crowd control and security that night, and were instrumental in ensuring pick-up and delivery of rebuilding supplies… After the event, Transportation and Support Services together executed the fastest breakdown of the city’s infrastructure in recent memory, paving the way for the smoothest cleanup in Burning Man history.
Matt Morgan, Palmer Parker and Jonathan Gevas