These Ads will no longer appear once you have logged into ControlBooth.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Poll: Operation of fire curtain

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by derekleffew, Apr 9, 2009.

?

Do you close your Fire Curtain when the building is not in use?

  1. Yes, always

    3 vote(s)
    3.5%
  2. Sometimes

    7 vote(s)
    8.2%
  3. No, never

    66 vote(s)
    77.6%
  4. Other (please specify...)

    9 vote(s)
    10.6%
  1. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,852
    Likes Received:
    1,988
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    From this thread, we've learned that The Life Safety Code, NFPA 101, 13.4.5.7.6.3. (G) states
    The poll is anonymous, so be honest.

    edit: If you don't have a fire curtain, you needn't bother responding. You'll skew the poll.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2009
  2. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    1,263
    Likes Received:
    136
    Location:
    Southern California
    I voted other on this pole because my venue has no fire curtain. The stage building ends at the upstage side of the orchestra pit and the audience is outside.
  3. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    1,429
    Likes Received:
    301
    Location:
    Ottawa
    Same reason as cdub260.

    Our stage is classified as a "performance platform" so we do not have/need a fire curtain. The auditorium and stage are considered a single room. If we had a fly tower (aka chimney) it would be a different story.
  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,211
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Milwaukee Metro Area
    What are we considering a proscenium curtain? Does that include only the fire curtain, or only the main curtain, or both? It would be both, I would assume...
  5. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,840
    Likes Received:
    351
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Our 2 Prosc. spaces have motorized fire curtains, with fused link activators, as well as "cut the rope with adjacent knife".

    The motor system is in excess of 50 years old and we have been told that lowering/raising on a daily basis, which was the practice up to about 5 years ago, was inadvisable. Thus it's left up.

    Steve Bailey
    Brooklyn College
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    4,852
    Likes Received:
    1,988
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    Lemme guess--the knives are so rusty and dull that they wouldn't even cut soft butter, and you'd die in the fire while trying to saw though the 1/2" hemp line?
  7. RichMoore

    RichMoore Member

    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, Texas
    20+ years ago, when I worked as an installation rigger for theatrical equipment, I installed many fire curtains and I do not remember any of them having to come in and go out on a regular basis. They were rigged with fusable links and with a one pound lead ball secured with a half hitch around the operating lines and of course the obligatory "knife in a box" mounted on the wall.

    I do remember hearing of the practice on Broadway of the fire curtain being lowered and raised before each performance, but not of them being down when the theatre is dark. Is that a new-ish regulation?

    Rich
  8. Clifford

    Clifford Member

    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    The theater at our school has no fly system, so the fire curtain is a big installed thing of curtain. It will come down only when you pull a big red ring on the wall. The only time I've ever seen it down was when a freshman pulled the ring. It took six guys a day to raise and secure again. We're not allowed to touch those rings.
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    8,312
    Likes Received:
    1,181
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Most of the fire curtains I have seen in the last few years are the accordian type. When the ring/rope is pulled it drops a control line that starts spinning a fly wheel. The curtain drops in about 20 seconds or so to the deck. You then have to go up to the grid with a crank and crank the whole thing back up. I could not imagine having to do that daily.

    For the house that the fire curtain (or fire wall as it usually is) is motorized, I still have never brought it in daily. Neither of my current spaces have one.
  10. dramatech

    dramatech Active Member

    Messages:
    443
    Likes Received:
    99
    Occupation:
    MASTER ELECTRICIAN
    Location:
    Winter Haven, FL
    Our fire curtain was installed in 1977 with no provision to lower and raise at will. When you cut the rope or the link breaks, it is a major effort to raise. It came down about three years ago during a hurricane. Water coming in through a leak in the roof set off the fire alarm and it broke the link.
    I installed an ice skating rink on the stage of the "Deutsches Theatre" in Munich Germany about 5 years ago, and the regulations there required that the firecurtain, (a solid wall about 4 inches thick with lead covering on both sides) was to remain down at all times, unless there were two fire marshalls in uniform sitting in special seats just behind the proscenium with a viewing port for seeing the apron and the house. The only exception was for rehearsals with no more than 9 people in the house, and a certified stage hand watching the rehearsal from one of the fire marshalls seats. The certification process for the stage hand was intensive.
    It was a very expensive production because of all of the rules and guild (union) requirements. The show was a classical Ice ballet version of Swan Lake, presented by the St Petersburg ballet on Ice from Russia.
  11. zerolmzero

    zerolmzero New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been working in different theaters in Belgium for a while now and there are a lot of different procedures here. In smaller venues we set up our show for two days and they keep the fire curtain usually up. In larger venues I encountered the "walls" which are closed even between rehearsals and shows. They can be a pain because our show travels with a pool which we prefer to put up very close to the public, thus being in the way of the curtain.

    A friend of mine told me that a curtain kept open for about a meter from the ground is preferred when fire breaks out. A completely closed curtain smothers the fire, but causes much smoke which causes most accidents. When there is a bit of air circulation the fire keeps burning, but in a more controlled way and with less smoke. Anybody here more expertise on this theory?
  12. BNEL

    BNEL New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    In most of the venues that I have worked in the fire curtain is usually is setup for a one time fast drop and takes forever to return it to the prepared position. So I don't see it practical to bring it in and out daily unless it is motorized. Also I have not heard of this code as I have alot of connection with the local fire deptartment.
    However I do bring my fire curtains into the deck once a year to inspect them. I have a manual release crank where I can drop it to the deck but it takes close to a hour to drop. I keep a paper record of my inspections of both my visual inspections and curtain tags so that I can show it to the local fire marshal when asked.
  13. Erwin

    Erwin Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    I can see the virtue of having a fire curtain in place if the venue is not in use. Why not be as protected as you can be? But what you have described above seems absurd to me! If what you/we do is so dangerous that we need Fire Marshals watching our activities and overseeing the property, should we be filling a room with an audience at all!?

    To answer the OP, I have worked in venues where we did bring in the fire curtain (a Cruise Ship) and others where we didn't. I voted no as the no's outnumber the yeses.
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

    Messages:
    10,581
    Likes Received:
    1,358
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    WOW that story from Munich is CRAZY!!!

    One of the theaters I occasionally work at had a full remodel 3 years ago. At that time they were told because the height of the ceiling in the house is almost the same as the height of the fly space (both about 42') the code considers it one room and they didn't have to install a fire curtain.
    CRAZY.

    Secondly note: The Cirque du Soleil Ka theater has no fire curtain because there is no traditional stage. It does have a deluge system. They told me on my tour that there's no way they could build that theater today (about 6 years later) do to massive recent changes in code.
  15. midgetgreen11

    midgetgreen11 Member

    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    We do not have a fire curtain--- as our stage house is a continuation of the house roof with no fly system. There is actually no seal between the two---as soon as the drywall of the house goes above the sight lines of the ceiling clouds--- the drywall stops---you can actually climb over if you're stupid enough to do so.
  16. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,840
    Likes Received:
    351
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Well here's some theater history trivia:

    Way back in olden dayes, in the quaint hamlet of New York City, say 1970's, the real estate market was starting to get really hot. Many developers were looking at all that "air space" above all those Broadway and once-were-Broadway-theaters-that-were-now-porno-film-houses (42nd street in the old days) and decided that the air space was wasted space.

    Trouble was, the fly towers above the stages required that nothing be built on top of the stage, as the standard code compliant method for removing smoke from a fire ("far" to you southerners) on-stage, was to have roof mounted doors/windows that would open in a fire. Thus all theaters with fly towers had roofs with nothing on top.

    One new office building going up in mid-town got a tax break to put in a theater inside the building, part of an effort by the city to retain the theater community in the mid-town area. Note that this was 20 years before "Broadway" became a viable industy all it's own. Thus the tax break for building/keeping a theater.

    The first test case was the American Place Theater, which had a theater in the basement. Not much fly tower, as that was way too much floor space to give up (to a non-profit theater company), but certain city codes had to be modified in order to allow for both smoke evacuation, once handled by rooftop doors, as well as the requirement for a replacement for a fire curtain, which could not be installed due to no fly tower.

    Thus was born (in NYC at least) a motorized fan smoke evacuation system, powered off an emergency generator, as well as a water deluge curtain (think of a sprinkler system on steroids) in place of a fire curtain.

    The result was a number of new theaters built - The Gershwin ("Formerly the Uris and occupying six stories of the new Uris Building") , The Minskoff ("perched on the third floor of One Astor Plaza, the fifty-five-story office tower"), etc...

    Deluge curtains are a disaster as a concept and articles have been written about the advantage of a solid old-style fire curtain, that can physically prevent scenic elements from falling thru to the audience chamber and today NYC allows a real fire curtain as an alternative to a deluge, for theaters with fly towers. Fan systems are required though.

    Good thing as my spaces get to keep the fire curtains, when we were told we needed deluge.

    Steve B.
  17. Erwin

    Erwin Member

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    All these different examples of codes and fire prevention systems has brought a question to my mind. What is the purpose of a fire curtain? Yes, I know it is to prevent the spread of fire from one part of the building to the other and protect the audience in the event of a fire on stage and that it is a good tool. But, why do many venues that are larger than some fly houses, not need such a device? Why does an arena not have such a device between sections of seating, or performance space and audience?

    If I recall there was a pretty well known fire in a Football (soccer) stadium in England that was very nearly a huge tragedy.

    I can think of ways to separate backstage areas from FOH in buildings without fly towers (Like a water tight door if anyone has worked on a ship before). It would be expensive, hazardous to operate, but is a Fire curtain not?

    It just seems to me that the codes are very inconsistent in showing what is hazardous and what is an appropriate precaution to take.

    Stories like that German theatre make me imagine a future where a Public saftey officer will shout "Hey, you! Where are you going without your bubble!"
  18. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    3,782
    Likes Received:
    471
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Believe it or not, the purpose of a fire curtain extends beyond the simple separation of the audience and the stage. This is observed as a primary function, but it serves a far greater purpose. For all intents and purposes a fly tower is a giant chimney. If a fire were to start on stage, just like in your fire place at home the heat and air would begin to draft up. As the theatre should be equipped with smoke doors on the roof, when the open all the hot air and smoke should vent up. If you leave the proscenium open, this draft has the potential to literally suck the air out of the room. This is something you don't want. So you not only save your patrons from being burned but also from lack of oxygen. You also cut off a major O2 supply for the fire.

    Most public buildings are now built with fire retardant doors with electromagnetic catches so that when the fire alarm is triggered the doors close. Watertight doors would be a bad idea because watertight is airtight, and while cutting off air to a fire will help, you don't want to trap people in sealed compartments.
  19. mrtrudeau23

    mrtrudeau23 Member

    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    our fire curtain was removed and replaced with a deluge system a few years ago.
  20. len

    len Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,539
    Likes Received:
    175
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    Based solely on my high school experience, the fire curtain could be lowered, but it never was. There was an emergency latch on each downstage wing wall, and all you had to do was push in the lever to release the curtain. It was probably made of asbestos so moving it a lot would have probably been worse then leaving it alone.

Share This Page