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Fire Safety Case in Hong Kong


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Dear ALL,


In the facebook, Hong Kong Theatre Technicians discuss about the Fire Safety issue.

A very interesting case recently happened in one of the Hong Kong theatre,

the show set up scenery with "a lot a lot a lot" of paper and books, then the venue staff need them to spray fire-retardant.

However, they didn't want to do that, they think it would destroy their paper and their design. Finally they strike all the scenery before the show.


So, if you guys are the technical manager of this show, what you will suggest.



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Firstly, I agree with Tom - all this should be addressed and sorted before the company enters the theatre.


Without knowing any details, a few things:

- Books, although paper, are unlikely to catch fire or burn.

If you want to test, grab an old phonebook & a blow torch.

- Paper, depending on how much and how compacted can be the same.

NOTE: If they were worried about the affect of the fire retardant, why not spray a small sample to test and show?


Safety is extremely important but you also have to be careful not to take it too far, unnecessarily.

With some knowledge and understanding solutions can be found for just about any problem, given there is enough time, which goes back to my first point.


BTW (blatant plug alert), I will be speaking at the PALME Asia conference in Singapore next month about Safety in the Entertainment Industry along with a range of very knowledgeable people.

Seminar programme

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Both earlier responses are correct, the company should have given the theatre advance warning of what they were intending to do, how they would manage the risks and what measures the theatre itself was being asked to put in place.


There are many more risky things than paper onstage and they can be managed really well. It is normal to have "explosives" in the form of pyrotechnics on stage. Live flames and incendiary materials are common in entertainment. They are just managed well.


The example that you quote is a risk management failure.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war....Or perhaps; If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. Sun Tzu. Knowledge and preparation is everything.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, as posted above, books are suprisingly low risk.

I would be more concerned about loose or crumpled paper which cataches fire easily and burns fiercly.


Provided that nothing rare or valuable was innvolved I dont see why fire retardant could not have been used.


In some cases, if the fire risk is increased by unavoidfably flammable scenery or props, it MIGHT be possible to reduce the risk to an acceptable level by extra fire precautions. For example additional suitably trained persons standing in the wings, each equiped with 2 extinguishers, or perhaps by having fire hose reels run out and ready for instant use.

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