Staff story

Safe and sound - how we had Glastonbury Festival covered

A fire engine near a circus tent at Glastonbury Festival
Keeping festival goers safe


The planning for this year’s festival started in the autumn of 2022, and ramped up through 2023. The licence for the festival, which is agreed through the new Somerset Council, requires the Service to approve the festival’s Fire Safety Plan, Major Incident Plan, Command and Control Plan, Crowd Dynamics Plan, Campsite Plan, and its Venues Plan.

This level of detailed planning and engagement, also building in the 2022 debriefing lessons, ensure that we have full understanding of the significant risk presented by a festival that has a licence for 210,000 people. That is 100,000 more than Exeter’s population, on a farm, in Somerset. To illustrate it further: Glastonbury Festival is a city roughly the same size as Southampton and Aberdeen.
Our plans are designed to mitigate the risks posed by the festival, not only on Worthy Farm, but also the Service’s business as usual. We ensure that the resources on site are appropriate but also proportionate.

To make sure the plans set out in the licence are complied with, we have a small team of business safety officers who inspect the festival venues before the site opens to the public, and then again during performances (which means working late and walking miles!).

It is this work that ensured that the arrangements that worked so effectively at the Pilton Palais incident are in place.

We visit a huge variety of sites, ranging from pop-up market stalls to the Pyramid Stage itself, which is not that glamorous from the rear!


The response plans are a collaborative arrangement with Glastonbury Fire Safety Ltd who provide that important first level of response, and crew the Fire Desk in the Event Control Centre, and our own team of Marauding Terrorist Attack (MTA) firefighters from Clyst St George.

The command and control element of the festival is based in the high-tech Event Control Centre (ECC) and operates 24/7 starting before the festival opens and ending long after everyone has packed their tents and left.

The early news from the festival organisers is that the 2023 event was a great success, with very positive feedback for the collaborative fire and rescue plans and response.

I would like to thank the small team involved with the festival this year. I know how hard they worked and it is highly valued by the festival organisers.

The festival will be returning next year and so the planning starts again soon.

Gerald Taylor
Assistant Chief Fire Officer and Director of Service Delivery