Firewalk Failure. 25 Employees Of Swiss Marketing Company Suffer Burns In Hot Coal Walk Gone Bad.

Coal for cooking meat on the grill.

On paper, this must have sounded like such a great idea. In reality? A borderline disaster that required ten ambulances. 

An advertising agency in Switzerland had one of those rah-rah “team-building” events where one of the activities was the walking on hot coals exercise where loyalty and positive thinking are supposed to be enhanced by walking across a bed of smoldering coat several feet long. 

Twenty-five company employees suffered burns, and 13 had injuries severe enough to require hospitalization. 

According to the Swiss news outlet Blick, roughly 150 employees attended the event on Lake Zurich.  The CEO issued a memo that acknowledged a number of his workers sustained burns in what he called a “voluntary” team activity. The CEO said in the memo that “appropriate preparation” was taken in the event’s planning. Still, now police have begun investigating the incident and are looking into whether the arrangement of coals the employees walked over may have led to the burns. 

The company issued another statement saying “no one was forced” to do the coal walk. That might be brought up again if civil lawsuits arise from this debacle. 

A story in Complex references a couple of factors that have to be in place in a hot coal walk.  First, the correct charcoal type must be used, and the coals must be patted down, so the surface is flat as people walk on them. 

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