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Aisle Lights

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by uncmempm, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. uncmempm

    uncmempm Member

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    Are aisle lights required under any code and if so which one would it be? Do any of you have aisle lights the can be on or off, and if so do you ever let them be off during a performance for any reason?

    I have a show in my venue that is insistent on a complete and total blackout for one scene and wondered how some of you might handle it?

    Thanks
     
  2. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    I can't quote code like others on here can, and since I'm sitting at Bread Co, the internet's slow as molasses, so I can't look it up in a timely fashion, but as I understand it, yes, the aisle lights are required as either fire code or part of the ADA (the disability one, not the dentists). I know ours can be shut off for maintenance, but you have to physically go up to the cats where the house dimmers are, and physically throw a toggle switch (not on a dimmer) to shut them off.

    As for turning them off during any performance, I'd be hesitant to do it, and would probably insist on my shows that they be left on. Should the fire marshall come in during the show, and see that they're off, that would probably not be a good thing. One scene of complete blackout without aisle lights is not worth the lawsuits and fines if something should happen. I'd quickly point that out to the powers that be. If they insist, I'd get it in writing that I protested, and signed by all parties involved.

    Again, my two cents.
     
  3. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Let me guess Wait Until Dark?


    Again cannot actually quote the code but they are a nessecity.

    That being said:

    I have shut off aisle lights during a performance of the above show but

    1. There was a person manned at the switches in aconstant communication with Stage managment should anything slightly go wrong.

    2. The exit lights never went off

    3. The producers ect signed off on it.

    The above is in no way an endorsement of ever turning off any saftey feature in any theatre and or building space. It is only a recount of past events.
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Grog actually makes a good point, it is definitely against fire codes to turn off illuminated exit signs, so if you have them (which you should) you can't turn them off, so who really cares about the isle lights. All it takes is one patron who happens to be walking around during that blackout to trip and fall and before you know it you are facing a lawsuit. It isn't worth the risk.
     
  5. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Proper Exit Signs will actually kick into their emergency cycle when you flip off their breakers...which typically means more light coming from them.


    I will now refrain from commenting on how anyone up and walking around during a performacne deserves what they get.....as that would be silly and vindictive of me.
     
  6. Pip

    Pip Active Member

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    I've worked in a few theatres with no aisle lights... Exit signs, of course though... ^^
     
  7. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    Our isle lights are on dimmers and despite code (not really sure what it states) we turn them off a lot during performances and never had a problem we do have a sub master with them on it in case of emergency and really bright exit signs. It has not yet been a problem... Speaking of blackouts... I hate exit signs if i could turn them off I would I cant stand them they are so obnoxious!!
     
  8. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    I have some words for you, but my mommy taught me not to say them out loud.
     
  9. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    jerekb, those are some very dangerous statements you've made, especially in a public forum. I can assure you, when (and I say "when", not "if) something happens, you'll be singing a different tune. I don't mean to come across as a hardass, but safety is one thing I do not dick around with.
     
    LightingMike likes this.
  10. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    Generally exit signs don't bother me, as they're a necessary evil, but in my school theatre the exit signs are horrible. Our auditorium is designed with about a 14 foot apron, and there is actually a hallway leading off each side of the stage in front of the proscenium. So the majority of entrances are actually made in front of the proscenium. The problem with this is, of course, that since it's an exit, it has an exit sign on the proscenium. Because of the way the auditorium is built, the proscenium, and the exit signs, protrude about 5 feet onto the stage. There's nothing worse than watching that dramatic and heartfelt death scene, only to have the mood spoiled by two big red Exit signs hanging directly over the actor.
     
  11. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Our local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) required that we have aisle lights at least every other isle, and at every step / change in elevation. And, of course, exit lights. They were also required to be on our battery back up lighting system.

    ~Dave
     
  12. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    I have had this subject come up with groups using our second stage. Every time it's come up, I've told them that yes I can turn them off, but that no I won't turn them off, nor will I allow them to do so. When I work with these outside groups, I act as the Facilities Manager for the venue. As such I have to put the interests of my company first. That means that sometimes I have to put my foot down and say no to certain requests. Most of the time I will work with these groups to find a compromise, but anything that creates a potential safety hazard, I automatically say no to. If the group can convince me that what they're doing is in fact safe, then I will back off and allow them to do it, but I will not expose my employer to liability simply because my aisle lights don't fit with a director's artistic vision. My decisions on these matters can be overruled by our TD, but to date this has never happened.
     
  13. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    My recommendation for "total blackout" is increasing your light level just before it. If your audience's eyes have adjusted to a higher light level, the miniscule light that is produced for the safety of egress will not be as noticeable. Yes I know that that won't cover all cases, but it will certainly help. The longer the audience is exposed to the higher light level, the longer the apparent blackout. Think about being outside in the daylight and then walking into a building. Those people in the building can see just fine, but it may take you a few moments for your eyes to totally adjust, especially if you have been exposed to the light for 20 minutes or more. Working on a large show in Vegas, I have control of all the aisle lights (relays) from my console, but they remain on at all times.
     
  14. jerekb

    jerekb Member

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    Honestly though I really don't have a problem with exit signs. Its just our exit sign shines right out on to the nice clean wood floor and reflects all over the place. It drives me crazy. Yes maybe I took it a little far but I wasn't serious everyone knows turning of exit signs is probably one of the most forbidden sins in the theatre industry. I was worried about someone turning them off last year and the electricians had a switch in the breaker room for maintenance that would disable them it took about 12 seconds to make the decision to get rid of that and hide it behind locked doors. Sorry for upsetting everyone.
     
  15. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    The auditorium at the school I do work for doesn't have aisle lights. Never even thought about that being against code. We do have exit signs like someone else said that are more or less on stage. It's obnoxious, but we leave them on. We were told were allowed to gel over them slightly so that they're not as bright, but they're always there for people to see.
     
  16. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I'm against the disabling of any life safety device, even aisle lights. That being said...at MVPAC we do sometimes turn off the aisle lights but only when absolute darkness is needed. I'm okay with that only because if the power goes out we have a backup generator which is tied directly into the house lights. If any one of the three phases of power is lost the backup genset starts up and the house lights turn on automatically within 15 seconds and cannot be shut off until Mains power is restored. Thats the only reason I'm okay with it, if we didn't have the house lights on backup then I wouldn't ever allow the aisle lights to be shut off.

    In no way ever should you disable exit lights...

    At my college we were allowed to have less obnoxious green exit lights in the theatre instead of the usual red ones. Check out your local laws and see if you can get your red lights replaced with green ones.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008
  17. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Never never never ever disable or obscure emergency lights.

    Sony beat me to it, but I was also going to suggest checking with the local authorities to see if you can install a different exit sign/different configuration. Just because the contractor threw in what was cheap and easy during construction doesn't mean you're stuck with it. Just make sure that any change you make is both legal and safe.

    As for aisle lights, I'd be inclined to just leave them on. Although I second Grog's almost statement, about those who won't stay seated getting what they deserve.

    I'm not familiar with that show, but I do know that an audience will typically believe whatever you want them to believe - and lights out means blackout. There are other ways to fake a total black out if you need to obscure the stage. Maybe you can drop a scrim at the same time as the blackout? Something shiny in the corner to distract the audience's eyes?
     
  18. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

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    I wonder what type of theater your working in, simply because I think the rules become more liquid depending on the number of seats your theater has. the major thing to be aware of is that your dealing with an issue of Liability and if your a freelancer, then that issue will trickle its way down no matter what. If you stand up for yourself, and keep aisle lights in then most likely you will receive a grumble or two or people will turn their nose up. If you don't then you will have to live with the possible stigma of being an "Unsafe designer" and that will screw over your career, I'm certain by this point you've probably already made your call one way or the other, but I'm sure that it will be the right thing.
    Two weeks ago I spent four hours rewriting and entire 100 plus cue show making sure to put the aisle lights in. It was worth it. An old lady stumbled the night after opening, but chose not to sue, thank god.
     
  19. rochem

    rochem Well-Known Member

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    Out of curiosity, does anyone know anything about the laws regarding aisle lights? Obviously it will differ by area, but does anyone know anything about their area? I worked a show this summer for a community theatre. We rented out a local high school theatre which seated 1,245 people and the place had no aisle lights of any kind. That kind of leads me to wonder whether the requirement is by number of seats, or by professional/nonprofessional company, or whatever else. A theatre seating 1,245 is pretty big, so I somehow doubt that the capacity is the primary factor.
     
  20. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    It could have just been that the theatre was old. Older theatres may not have had aisle lights when originally built and only when you renovate a building are you required to bring it up to code.
     

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