NEW ORLEANS - The fire department is doubling its efforts to make sure every Mardi Gras parade rider is wearing the required safety harness on their float.
This comes a day after two riders from the Krewe of Alla fell into the street during Sunday's parade. It's the NOFD's responsibility to make sure all floats have city approved safety tethers for every rider and other safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and ladders.
"In this case it's one of those situations where it really comes down to a personal responsibility," said New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell. "This is a situation, much like a seat belt in a car. If you have it, you have to use it."
Krewe of Alla President Frank Borne says his injured riders are doing much better. One was treated at the hospital Sunday and released and the other left the hospital Monday morning with no permanent injuries.
Borne admits one of them was not wearing the required safety harness and fell off the upper deck of his float near Lee Circle.
"People want to throw lots of stuff to family and friends, just in the heat of the moment (he) went over," said Borne. "Of course, the fall would have been prevented if he would have had the harness on."
He says the other rider was wearing the safety device. "But, may have slipped out or may not have been secured properly," said Borne.
Chief McConnell says accidents such as riders falling from floats are preventable if every rider wears a tether. He also says NOFD members will continue to conduct inspections before every parade to ensure that all floats and trucks follow safety standards and all safety protocols are in place.
"Some of the Carnival organizations have actually reached out to us today and said, 'look, would you come talk to my krewe, we're having our final meeting before the parade event,'" said McConnell.
Meanwhile, Alla officials pledge to be more careful next year. "We'll be educating constantly and demonstrating how the harness should be fastened and our float lieutenants will have to ensure that every person stays in them," said Borne. Borne encourages other parade organizations to do the same.