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Fire alarms vs. haze...

#1 User is offline   willpower 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 06:16 PM

Hit a minor issue at the place I'm currently working at today, as I managed to evacuate the entire school when demonstrating the haze machine... I'm fully aware of the cap over the sensor or isolating the particular part of the building that the haze machine is being used in to solve this problem, but the school (despite a huge amount of persuasion from me) don't want to do either of those, as they are concerned for the risk implications.

Does anyone have any ideas of another way to prevent the fire alarms going off, or advice about what to say that might persuade the powers that be to change their minds?

#2 User is offline   gareth 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 06:38 PM

The only thing you could do, perhaps, is to try to present them with a proposed solution in terms of a well-thought-through method of isolating the auditorium and surrounding fire alarm zones - only a very limited number of people authorised to carry out the operation at the fire alarm control, a log must be filled in and signed each time the system is isolated, a nominated person(s) is responsible for reactivating the zones at the end of each show (e.g. FOH manager, security guard doing lock-up, performance fireman). Perhaps the fire alarm system even has a facility to reactivate all zones after a certain period of time - I believe some do.

If they still won't buy it, then I'm afraid your only other option might have to be a "no smoke/haze" rule ... :rolleyes:
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#3 User is offline   Ynot 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 08:01 PM

View Postwillpower, on 3 Jul 2009, 7:16 PM, said:

I'm fully aware of the cap over the sensor .... <snip>

This one is liable to get you into deep brown sticky stuff if caught. Tampering with any fire detection system in this way is something definitely to be frowned upon. If only for the simple reason of what happens when (not 'if') you forget to remove said smoke-blocker and there's a real need for it to detect smoke at a different time?

But to answer the question, unless there is a specific zone-eliminate option that can be logged and properly managed and/or automated then you're stuck with what you've got and no smoke in the show I'm afraid.
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#4 User is offline   smalljoshua 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 08:07 PM

Don't shoot the messenger here.

At my old school, the premises manager just removed the smoke head in the auditorium.

It was removed on the Monday Morning and put back the Following Monday. Bearing in mind having the last show on Thursday night meant it could have been put back on the Friday but it was easier for the premises manager to do it on his Monday Morning rounds.

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#5 User is offline   niclights 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 09:28 PM

Removing detectors can often set off alarm systems as a fault. Even if it was ok to do it.

#6 User is offline   Dodgecaliber 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 10:34 PM

Consider using the red covers perhaps? These are designed to prevent dust/smoke from being detected, however should there be a fire, It will melt and allow the head to do its job again.

Also, find out if they are ionisation or optical or even heat heads.

Other than that, it's do a RA and discuss and educate about "how its normally done" perhaps?
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#7 User is offline   Ali2580 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 11:07 PM

I know you mentioned the school do not want to isolate any part of the building but just to give my input here...

At the Webster Theatre in Arbroath (where I am training) there is only about 2 or 3 of us out of the whole team who know how to properly use the fire detectors and how to isolate/de-isolate the system properly. And it is up to us, after every show that uses smoke or haze to ensure that the system is then de-isolated again otherwise the fire service will come after us!

It works well having certain individuals who are responsible to ensure the system is in the correct mode or the zones are done properly at the right times however as some of the previous posts have said, to avoid getting into trouble, it looks as if it's either what you suggested or no smoke.

Sorry I couldn't help more.
Regards,

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#8 User is offline   bruce 

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 11:40 PM

Just to make things clear - tampering with smoke detectors may be a criminal offence in the UK. Unless you are the building services manager, or appropriately authorised by them, you should not be doing this sort of thing. Make suggestions by all means, but don't bag the detectors!

#9 User is offline   Grahame 

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 09:53 AM

This is becoming a real pain in the behind for touring shows, where you are playing many different venues, each with different fire alarm systems and different policies on isolation. The advance paperwork alone when you're trying to get permission in advance is a nightmare; in smaller venues often there is nobody who knows how to isolate the system, or even where the control box is (yes, really!).

A show I toured recently had a spooky night scene with a vampire feeding in a graveyard-like setting, and much of the atmosphere of the scene really depended on having a bit of haze on stage. Yet one town hall venue flatly refused us permission to use the haze and claimed that they couldn't isolate the alarms. Despite emails and phone calls at the highest level of management, we were unable to resolve the situation and had to do the show without haze.

Now I respect the hall's right to say no, but I do resent that this sort of level of artistic control is possible from a receiving venue who hadn't even seen the show.

I suspect that they will be getting many similar requests to use haze or smoke from visiting companies in the future and hopefully they will find a way to resolve the situation. Or perhaps we, as an industry, need to lobby for a change in fire regulations in theatres? Does a smoke detector exist that isn't sensitive to haze? It only seems to be the more modern detectors that have this issue - I don't remember this happening with older systems.

Grahame

#10 User is offline   boswell 

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 10:27 AM

We have 'Rate of rise' heat detectors in the auditorium and above stage, offices and other areas are smoke detectors = no problems :rolleyes:

#11 User is offline   LX-Dave 

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 11:18 AM

View Postwillpower, on 3 Jul 2009, 7:16 PM, said:

when demonstrating the haze machine


I know this will not help for shows, but (when you say "demonstrating" did you mean teaching to students etc?), but could you not do this outdoors ?

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#12 User is offline   mitchiemasha 

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 01:33 PM

Our club has heat detectors. They are connected the same, its just a different type of sensor. They require both heat & smoke to set them off. Just get the sensors changed.

We can still have a problem with ours as we are a rave. Lots of sweaty ravers jumping around produces a lot of heat. I've put big signs near the controller now to warn trigger happy dj's.

#13 User is offline   adam2 

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 03:16 PM

I would point out to those in charge that the main purpose of smoke detectors is to give warning if fire breaks out in UNATTENDED premises, or unattended/seldom visited parts of premises.
They also give valuable early warning in homes, hotels and the like where persons would be sleeping and liable to be killed by smoke without waking.

However in a well occupied area such as a performance space, smoke detectors serve no purpose whilst the premises are in use. Any outbreak of fire will be obvious to the occupants, who can evacuate, and operate "break glass" fire alarm call points on the way out, so as to warn occupants elswhere in the building.

Therefore I believe that isolating smoke detectors in a performance area is acceptable providing that all the following conditions are met.

1) That smoke detectors in other areas remain operable, for example stores, workshops, mess rooms, dressing rooms,offices, plant rooms etc. Any outbreak of fire in such places might not be noticed, and unoticed could be a serious danger. Early warning via smoke detectors, or other approved means thus being vital.

2) That all manuall "break glass" fire alarm call points remain operable.

3) That a clear written procedure exists to reinstate the smoke detectors before the premises are left either unattended or with only limited occupants.

#14 User is offline   Andrew C 

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 03:53 PM

The biggest problem is that the installation company only talk to building services types, or architects. Even if asked for a simple override, all they say is "not to BS, can't do it".

I did have some heads demonstrated that require heat, rate of rise, and CO detection before they trigger (all programmable) Seems to be the way forward, but you won't convince small, clueless places to change.
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#15 User is offline   Modge 

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 05:06 PM

View Postgareth, on 3 Jul 2009, 7:38 PM, said:

The only thing you could do, perhaps, is to try to present them with a proposed solution in terms of a well-thought-through method of isolating the auditorium and surrounding fire alarm zones - only a very limited number of people authorised to carry out the operation at the fire alarm control, a log must be filled in and signed each time the system is isolated, a nominated person(s) is responsible for reactivating the zones at the end of each show (e.g. FOH manager, security guard doing lock-up, performance fireman). Perhaps the fire alarm system even has a facility to reactivate all zones after a certain period of time - I believe some do.

'Better' fire alarm systems (I.e. newer ones as fitted to large buildings) can certainly rearm themselves after a set time period and also even print out a log of when they've been disarmed as well, saving you doing that manually (they also store this log so it can be accessed at any time by fire officers \ building services types). Further more the isolate will be a key (or possibly a code I think some places) thus insuring only aurtherised persons can isolate it. All I have seen or heard of continue to respond to their break glasses whilst isolated.
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