District’s Dedication to Safety Brings Back Parade

Pueblo West Metropolitan District’s staff used ERM to find success.

Nothing brings residents of Pueblo, Colorado back to the good old days of childhood like some super soakers, a parade, and a whole lot of water.

After being cancelled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and a year of drought—and following an uproar on social media about a scaled-down version for 2023—a fun town tradition made a splashy comeback to Pueblo West Metropolitan District this year: the Wet Parade.

But none of this would have happened if not for an up-and-coming safety and loss prevention tool known as Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and Pueblo West’s determined staff.

The Wet Parade, officially known as the “The Jack Fowler Memorial Fourth of July Parade,” which honors the retired volunteer fire chief that started it all, has been a community fixture since 1993, stemming from when then-Pueblo West Fire Chief Jack Fowler got out a fire hose to spray down parade-goers at the annual Fourth of July Parade.

More details about the parade’s origin can be found at pueblowestmetro.us

In recent years, however, safety concerns took center stage, leading to an outright cancellation of the parade—first due to the pandemic and then due to both safety and water conservation worries. With the community’s push to bring it back, extensive planning ensued with safety as the district’s top priority.

Leveraging Enterprise Risk Management for Success

That’s where the CSD Pool’s safety consultants, Josh Barkley and Kyle Brown, came in. Together, the team facilitated several ERM sessions with district leadership and staff to determine the district’s risks and exposures.

ERM is an organization-wide strategy to identify and prepare for hazards with a company’s finances, operations, and objectives. This allows managers to shape their organization’s overall risk position by engaging with staff from all departments to—as an enterprise—explore, recommend, or implement rules that allows or restricts particular activities.

Traditional risk management, which leaves decision-making in the hands of division heads, can lead to siloed evaluations that do not account for knowledge held by other employees and other divisions. The most successful ERM strategies can mitigate operational, financial, security, compliance, and legal types of risks.

Ensuring Safety Through Collaboration

During ERM sessions with the CSD Pool, Pueblo West’s staff helped come up with the different risks they would take on with holding the parade so the district could plan ahead and take corrective action in order to keep the parade on-track and low risk.

By the end of the process, the main concerns voted upon were slips, trips, and falls; personal injury; and crowd control. While these risks may seem commonplace, it was the engagement with staff and the ERM process that fostered confidence to move forward with the event.

Anthony Sandstrom, Pueblo West’s Communications & Public Engagement Specialist commented on the scope of the process.

“Doing the parade is a big undertaking that requires the cooperation of multiple departments, entities, like the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and security personnel,” he said.

“The number one goal is to make sure parade-goers are safe from people using items like frozen water balloons, water from motorized pumps meant to expel water at high pressure, and people putting chemicals in water. While only a few people have tried doing such things, it has endangered the parade for safety reasons.”

The parade, which spans a two-mile route, demanded collaboration across departments, involvement from the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office for enforcement, and a $5,000 investment in security.

“As well as thinking about egress, ingress, and other 4th of July events in our community,” Sandstrom said, remarking that a Fire Department pancake breakfast took place that morning near the parade route, “it required community outreach to let people know of the Rules of Engagement.”

However, the extensive ERM process paid off.

“[The Wet Parade] was a success this year, and the tradition has officially returned to Pueblo West,” Sandstrom said.

In addition to the Wet Parade, Safety Day, a Pueblo West event independent of the annual parade, is a separate event hosted frequently by the district to draw attention to safety and loss prevention efforts.

While its origins are related to insurance reasons, with employees as the focus at its core, the event now provides a platform for the district and district employees to engage with safety vendors.

Pueblo West’s Safety Coordinator Steve McDowell sheds light on Safety Day, where the CSD Pool was in attendance with a booth to answer any safety questions and hand out prizes.

“Brandi Blankenship, our community relations manager, has put many hours into this year’s and previous years’ safety days,” McDowell said, highlighting the team effort of the event. “She has worked with people in our community to collect gifts that are given away in drawings. She has also brought in safety companies like Air Gas and Fastenal, and MSA to discuss safety, and show new products to keep employees safe.”

Just like the ERM sessions that brought together staff from across the organization, it was a similar level of participation that contributed to the event’s high-water mark.

“Our employees are what make Safety Day a success. They come to the event and talk with the vendors and take the advice back to their work site,” McDowell said.

The Wet Parade’s triumphant return and the continued success of Safety Day underscore Pueblo West’s commitment to community traditions and safety, making a splash in more ways than one. Needless to say, ERM remains a great tool to utilize and involve your staff and help make your organization a safer place for everyone.

If you are a member with an upcoming event or dealing with an increase in incidents and accidents, our team of Safety Consultants are available to show you the ERM framework and work with your organization to manage the process.

For more info, visit csdpool.org/safety/consulting or email us directly at safety@csdpool.org.