Rooftop Firewalks

by | Apr 21, 2018

Every so often we are asked to provide rooftop Firewalks and they have always proved to be most interesting. We love the challenge of providing Firewalks in venues that are not the easiest to work in. In a previous post we discussed indoor Firewalks which you can read about here.

For today though, we are going to share some experiences we have had at rooftop Firewalks.

What are rooftop Firewalks?

Rooftop Firewalks are exactly what they say they are. Firewalking on a rooftop. We have been on the top of hotels, shopping centres and multi-story car parks. It’s such a surreal experience to be lighting a Fire on top of a building and the participants absolutely love the experience, especially when there are magnificent views.

As you can imagine, there are several extra factors that we need to consider. It requires extra planning and sometimes extra Team Members to make it possible. The weather, especially the wind, the local Fire Authority, Council, and Police all need to be considered and contacted as necessary.

Here’s a couple of stories that we enjoy looking back on from rooftop Firewalks.

Corporate Firewalk in Dublin

A few years ago, we were asked to provide a Corporate Firewalk in Dublin with one weeks’ notice. I was in Australia at the time, but Ian and Charlie were available to deliver the Firewalk.

The venue for this Firewalk was on the roof of a hotel in the City Centre. I spoke to the hotel and was able to relay to Ian and Charlie that the setup would mean driving into the multi-story carpark of the hotel and then they would only have 3 or 4 steps to lift the wood, grass, etc on to the rooftop.

Sounded straightforward, right? Well you can imagine my surprise when I got a call from Charlie who did not sound best pleased. It turned out 3 or 4 steps was actually 43 steps. They counted them many times as they lugged the wood, grass, and equipment up to the rooftop.

The whole thing was made worse because they had no one to help them. They were understaffed and working on a tight schedule. The hotel staff tried to help and the main hotel elevator was considered but ruled out. Carting everything through the lobby would be quite disruptive for the hotel staff and residents. There was nothing else for it, they had to carry everything up the steps. And when they were done, they had to carry the used grass, debris, and tools all the way back down again.

Of course, it was the middle of the night with me and there was nothing I could do to help them. I felt awful but thankfully they joke about it now and I am sure they slept well that night. Especially knowing that the Corporate Firewalk had 50 people participating and they absolutely loved it.

“Adaptability is being able to adjust to any situation at any given time.”
John Wooden

Charity Firewalk in Letterkenny

Another interesting rooftop Firewalk story took place a few weeks ago in Letterkenny, County Donegal. We had been asked by  Clare Callaghan to help her organise the Charity Firewalk for Cancer Care West. Clare wanted to run the event in memory of her Grandmother who received care from the Charity.

Clare organised the venue and I did the site visit. It was on multi-storey carpark and would work perfectly. It would even work well in the rain as we could burn the Fire on the rooftop and then bring the embers down a level.

On the day of the Firewalk we were experiencing high winds, so we loaded a couple of barrels into the van. Burning wood in barrels is the safest option in windy conditions.

As Ian and I approached the carpark I confessed to him that on my site visit I was in a car and it would be interesting to see if the van would fit under the low roof. His eyes rolled but I was quietly confident that the van would fit. If it didn’t, we would only have a few floors to wheel the wood, grass, and barrels up.

We fitted! Just about. Getting in was one thing, getting out would be a different story. The van would be much lighter as we would have burned all the wood. So, to get out after the Firewalk, we had myself and Neil (our professional photographer) standing on the back of the van while Ian gingerly drove. We actually got out easier than we got in and now Ian claims he is a better driver than me…!

That night we had 30 Firewalkers and they raised over €4500 after costs and more money is coming in. They loved and so did we. Hats off to Clare!

When Things go Wrong!

That’s two of our most interesting and fun rooftop Firewalk stories. The wonderful thing about challenges is that that is where you learn most. In many ways, this post could have been called “When Things go Wrong” but they didn’t, we just had to adapt. And while it’s great when things go to plan, challenges remind us that things change, plans change, and curve balls are aplenty. Being flexible is hugely important as is having a great Team of Firewalk Instructors.

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