Joseph Pred, who founded the Emergency Services Department and served as its Operations Chief, has announced he is moving on after 17 years to focus on his consulting work. Joseph helped develop the Black Rock Rangers prior to the 1996 event and it was his vision that grew the event’s Emergency Services Department to a world class organization.
From his early involvement as a volunteer medic with the Black Rock Rangers, he spun off the Emergency Services Department in 2001 as the event grew and organizers recognized a need for a dedicated focus on fire and medical support for Black Rock City. He joined the organization full time in 2003.
“Philosophically, what makes ESD different from any other event in the world is the municipal nature of what we’re doing,” Joseph said. “In the early days I don’t think we realized how groundbreaking it was. We weren’t following any blueprint.”
In the 13 years since ESD was created it has grown to an organization with more than 100 managers and 1,000 staff involved in oversight and strategic planning year round overseeing advanced and basic life support, fire, dispatch, communications infrastructure and mental health services for a temporary city of 68,000.
“Joseph’s contributions have been foundational,” said Burning Man co-founder Harley K. DuBois. “He helped create a platform of mutual support and cooperation and, as the event’s population and complexity grew, he guided the growth of ESD. As a founding member of the Playa Safety Council, he helped keep that spirit of collaboration and information sharing at the forefront of how we work.”
Burning Man’s Emergency Services Department was lauded in 2010 by Hillard Heintze, a security management firm specializing in helping organizations establish best-in-class security strategies and investigations.
“The Emergency Services Department at Burning Man has assembled an excellent team of emergency service professionals,” said Hillard Heintze CEO Arnette Heintze in their analysis Black Rock City’s operations. “In fact, it has established a best-in-class structure for a mass gathering event that rivals National Special Security Events such as Super Bowls, Presidential Conventions and FIFA World Cups.”
“Joseph has been integral to the growth and professionalism of our health and safety infrastructure and the organization as a whole,” said Marian Goodell, Burning Man Director of Business and Communications. “Though he’s leaving his employment with Black Rock City LLC, we are already exploring options to work with him in a new capacity with the growth of activities by Burning Man Project and the regionals network.”
“Burning Man is a very risk-tolerant environment,” Joseph said. “This isn’t Disneyland. We want people to have an experience. What we do culturally is risk curation. We look at what risk boundaries are tolerable and create an experience that keeps participants in mind.”
In 2000, Joseph founded Mutual Aid Response Services (MARS) Inc. to provide comprehensive emergency operations, medical, communication, fire and consulting services to community groups and events looking for services similar to those offered at the Burning Man event.
“Burning Man founders were very supportive when we launched MARS,” Joseph said. “We operated initially with support from Burning Man headquarters and many of our early clients came as a result of their experience on the playa.”
MARS’s client list includes a variety of community events such as Maker Faire, Opulent Temple and the SF Love Parade.
In addition to his work with Burning Man and MARS, Joseph served two terms as the public health representative to the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, focusing on arts and cultural issues, and working with city officials and law enforcement on permitting for late night venues in the City.
Joseph also found time to write his first book, “Show Me How to Survive (Outdoor Life): The Handbook for the Modern Hero”, published in 2011 by the Outdoor Life editors at Simon & Schuster.
The Emergency Services Department heads will report to Charlie Dolman, Event Operations Director, until further notice.