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Could have been a Runaway...

Discussion in 'Safety' started by photoatdv, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    So little poll for all you professionals out there-- Do you think its okay to go into a high school with a group renting the auditorium, reweight the system for your stuff, then leave it out of weight when you leave?

    We nearly had a runaway yesterday morning when we were working on some stuff because they left the cyc really arbor heavy. Then of course when I realize its more than I can handle I yell to the people helping me that I need some help and they just look at me. All the while I'm trying to keep ahold of this lineset reaching around some large props that were kinda in my way, then finally I get the teacher's attention and she grabs it and we get it out. Yes, some weight disappeared from that arbor-- and no, I did not wait to get approval, but that was an immediate danger, so I didn't really have to.

    Now I just need to get approval to go through with a crew and check weighting on all of the batons-- I don't trust that there aren't others that bad or worse. Oh yeah and I need to have someone fix the loose rope locks too (Don't know that they had anything to do with that, but still is a BIG problem)-- that will most likely happen tonight or tomorrow.

    So moral of this story--

    1. ALWAYS reweight when you do load out-- especially if you're at a school where half the people using the flysystem don't have a clue what they're doing.
    2. Performer peoples need to be taught to ALWAYS listen to the crew. If the crew says move, move now! If the crew asks for help, especially if they're saying then need help now!, drop what you're doing (unless that would cause more problems) and help them.
     
  2. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    Anyone doing ANYTHING with the fly system should be under strict supervision by an experienced tech at the theater. After the group is gone, (like, 10 minutes after they are loaded out) an experienced tech needs to go through and make sure the fly system is in order and everything is weighted properly. Don't ever count on renters to restore your theater to its "default" properties, especially when safety (and potential injury/death may result).

    The fact that your brakes {locks}, rings, etc, may be faulty is scary and your fly system shouldn't even be used until such repairs have been made. General rule of thumb on flylines is to hold the lines together with one hand and CAREFULLY release the brake {lock} with the other. Any movement and the brake {lock} goes back on.

    Performers (actors) should never be expected to "jump in and help" in a tech emergency. Again, only EXPERIENCED techs should be operating flylines.

    I hate to be harsh, but your facility sounds like a horrible accident waiting to happen.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    So a load was removed from the batten without it being at deck trim? Between productions, aren't all softgoods that touch the deck normally stored at max high trim (or at least head high)?

    A very good reason for venue managers to demand that only venue technicians operate house equipment.

    More and more I'm thinking counterweight fly systems should NOT be installed in high school auditoriums.

    I believe we've had this discussion before... They should be called rope locks, not rope brakes. The word "brake" implies that the device can be used to slow an object. It's called a lockrail, not a brakerail.
     
  4. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    You said that you were taking the cyc out, was it in to where the batten was on the deck? Whenever a drop is on the deck, its weight is on the deck instead of the batten.

    After you removed the weight, did you check and make sure the lineset was balanced?
     
  5. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    No renter may use my fly system without my permission, and nothing gets flown without my okay. Only my crew, trained and under my authority, may operate the system. It's one of the few non-negotiable parts of the rental agreement. Look at the rigging funny without permission and I may kick you out of my building - but that's my attitude after dealing with too many rentals run by people who don't know what they're doing in the theater. Better grumpy than dead.

    That said, an outside group should restore the facility to 100% condition it was in prior to load in, plus a little cleaner.
     
  6. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like there is some serious supervision needed in that theater.

    Yeah, I have seen way too many accidents at high schools with counter weight systems. When I took over at the FAA we had to rehemp all their lines, install new locks, and retighten the system. I had to get a grant to do it because the school district wouldn't pay for it. They had 8 (out of 32) linesets that were broken in various places (broken hemp, broken blocks, broken locks) and they had kids operating it with NO supervision who had no idea the theory behind a counterweight system, muchless how to safely operate one.

    I tore the principal and theater teacher a new one and declared the system completely unusable until it was repaired. I bet if I went back now (8 years later) I bet it would be in the condition I found it.

    Mike
     
  7. LightingPenguin

    LightingPenguin Active Member

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    Go back and tear them a new one again! While we dont have a fly system, it sounds like they're extremely prone to accidents and danger if not used by a properly trained tech.

    Second, I've learned that if you need immediate help with something and you call on an actor for something tech related, it comes out to be 2 things:

    1. They look at you like your a complete moron who doesn't know what you're doing
    2. They attempt to help

    Theres no "Ill go get someone who knows!"
     
  8. ReiRei

    ReiRei Active Member

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    We did a one act show last year at my high school and during a rehearsal we had a runaway that was batten heavy. I was in the process of putting an uncle buddy on it after telling everyone to get offstage and the drama teacher obviously wasn't listening. She walked over, pushed me out of the way, released the brake and bam! Only time I've ever had to shout runaway in the theatre and luckily nobody got hurt. However, it turned into my fault because when you put all of your time into something, you become the permanent... patsy, for lack of a better word.

    I tore my crew a new one during the next class because it is the responsibility of the people who take off and put things on the batten to reweight them. And now we have an entire two days every semester to teach people how to reweight! YAY!

    We also don't let outside crews operate any of our equipment. They can do props, run, costumes, and call cues, but other than that they don't touch anything. And we don't usually do big shows that require hanging things and whatnot.
     
  9. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    Those in educational situations can help with this - train your actors! They don't have to be experts, but they love theater as much as technicians, and a little technical training helps round them out as performers. Outside of big professional shows and union contracts there's no reason performers can't be expected to help with the labor, and then if we're lucky they're better prepared to help in an emergency like the one above.
     
  10. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    When I taught at the FAA I had a student flyman. He wasn't allowed to do anything without me in the theater, but he knew how to weight things, how to load, etc so much that if he weren't a kid and prone to let his mind wonder from time to time I would have trusted him to do all my loading and unloading. Nothing was loaded or unloaded unless he was on the rail and I was on the deck. All techs got a crash course (no pun intended), but he got enough training that he worked on the flyrail at a local professional theater from time to time (including the hemp house in town).

    Mike
     
  11. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    This thread makes me think that we (the schools) really need to improve our teaching on stage safety and flying. Nothing should ever ever be out of balance. If you've got a loading gallery, you have absolutely no excuse. Spaces with no loading gallery have it a little tougher, but still not that bad. We must teach the children before they kill themselves.

    And also, reading that last one (about the Drama Teacher pushing the student flyman out of the way and starting a runaway), we need to educate our Drama Teachers. In fact, we need to educate all our faculty who use the stage. Just basic stage safety. Before they kill themselves or the children.

    I'm lucky, I guess: the high school I came from (and now guest design at) has always been good about teaching stage safety. The director there came (20 years prior) from the same university I went to, and one of the first things he did in Tech Theatre class those nearly 15 years ago was take us all on stage and show us how to fly safely. He also taught us all how to drive the old two-preset board later in the semester. Not bad for a guy whose strength is choreography. :)
     
  12. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    The locks are now fixed-- I'm sure you will be happy. Plus I finally learned how to do it-- I knew the theory, I just wasn't going to try it until I had someone next to me who knew what they were doing.

    No the pipe was not at stage level. It was originally all the way up and was arbor heavy, then a couple of the guys hauled it in, but the teacher wouldn't let me fix it because she wanted to start rehearsal. Then the next day when I went to fly it out we almost lost it. After the teacher say how bad it was (when she helped me) she let me fix it. Now its in weight (doesn't move if released when not already moving-- generally accepted standard at my school).
     
  13. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    Linesets should never be out of weight and your director needs to know that. Even though you can muscle it in, and the lock might hold it, it is not made to. It should always be balanced, like you have it now.

    My highschool didnt have a fly system, and now that I am trained and use it everyday I am glad they didnt. There would have been so many accidents due to lack of training.
     
  14. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Holy God.

    THIS IS VERY BAD.

    So the lineset was gridded and arbor heavy .. that's fine, not great, but fine. Then they need the pipe in, so instead of getting it in balance first they muscle it in. Then they leave it in, out of balance, overnight. And then the next day you have to put a twist on it to get it out, and your teacher opens the rope lock to get the pipe out of the way for rehearsal and it runs away.

    Please stop trying to kill yourselves.
     
  15. LightingPenguin

    LightingPenguin Active Member

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    heres a question:

    Does any high school theatre without a TD have a fly system? From what I've been reading, if you don't have one and you just know "the big things go down, the smaller one goes up", I really dont think they should use a fly system. But I doubt a high school with a fly system doesn't have a TD........right?
     
  16. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    Not quite -- When we went to fly it out the second day I had a girl helping me fly it out so I could pull the weight and she decided she didn't want to do work, so she quit helping and I started to lose control of it (holding with both hands so I couldnt lock it) , yelled for help, and finally the teacher came over and helped me get it out.

    And no we don't have a TD on staff or an auditorium manager for that matter (However he didn't know how to reweight anyway- the one time we had to on a show he was supervising he had to ask me to do it)-- budget cuts. We do have a couple of local pros that come in a few weeks a year and they typically fix any fly system problems we have and train the senior crew on well, everything.
     
  17. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    VERY VERY VERY VERY BAD
     
  18. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    I am surprised no one has been killed in this auditorium. Someone report it and have it shut down!

    Mike
     
  19. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    The situation in this particular venue seems to go from bad to worse... Photo, I know you're a student and aren't really responsible, but you have an obligation to bring this to someone's attention (perhaps an anononymous call/email to a school board member). At best, there's possibility of ruined equipment, at the very worst, you're looking at death, lawsuits and bankrupting the school district.
     
  20. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Maybe as Step One we should send them a copy of Dr Doom's book?
     

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