Emergency lighting

RGermain

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I am working to upgrade the safety systems in our theater and our emergency lighting needs some upgrading. Any recommendations on emergency backups?
 
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SteveB

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RGermain said:
I am working to upgrade the safety systems in our theater and our emergency lighting needs some upgrading. Any recommendations on emergency backups?
1) More information is needed about:
- Type of theater - Gymnatorium ?, dedicated theater ?, etc...
- Is there an existing generator for the building ?
- What's there now ?.

In general, all the requirements for emergency lighting is covered under the National Electrical Codes, specifically section 520 for theaters. There may well be local codes that adopt and/or super-cede the Nat'l code that you need to be aware of, and you might find it useful if you became very educated on the issue, including buying a copy of the Nat'l Electrical Code and studying it as if it were an entrance exam for college.

Bottom line though is you really, really need either/both an theatrical consultant to guide you here, or a electrical engineer conversant with both the specific requirements for theaters as well as the local code. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the life-safety issues correct, and (again) in general, the typical theater tech. is NOT the person who can advise on these issues, for a lot of legal reasons.

So. The upgrades can range from something as simple as a lot of additional battery pack flood lights, to an entire generator powered transfer system for all the audience area lighting as well as all the backstage and lobby area's that need egress lighting, including putting in battery powered fluorescent hallway fixtures, or running them off a geni, etc....

In my renovation 2 years ago, with as much as I thought as I knew, it ultimately became the responsibility of the architect and the EE to LEGALLY sign off on the plans that involved code compliance issues. There is no getting around this. No local authority is going to approve changes not created by a licensed EE and/or architect and without these you are dead in the water.

SB
 

Chris15

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From what I've picked up on here, you people over in the US have fire chiefs that have the power to make binding decisions on life safety. Emergency lighting falls under life safety, so you would be well advised to follow it up with your fire chief.

Given it is life safety, there are a number of liability issues which would arise. If you make mistakes here it really could cost lives and render you negligent. My advice would be to find a qualified electrician.

Now if this is in a school and from what I gather you are a student, then I would just forget about it right now. This is something that your school needs to have done properly for reasons of liability, duty of care, etc. It really defeats the purpose of an emergency safety system if it is improperly designed installed and maintained. You don't want to be the one held negligent and have to face criminal / civil action now do you?

Play it safe and get someone who knows what they are doing to look at this one for you.
 

SteveB

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Chris15 said:
From what I've picked up on here, you people over in the US have fire chiefs that have the power to make binding decisions on life safety. Emergency lighting falls under life safety, so you would be well advised to

Actually, in most juristictions, it's the building department (village-town-city-county) that issues permits and enforces code issues. The local fire departments SOMETIMES have inspection/enforcment duties, but if a building is in an area serviced by a volunteer department, the inspection and enforcement may not always be the VFD. New York City is a typical location where the NYFD has inspection and enforcment duties, but only after the fact. They do not get involved in the planning and construction phases and even after construction is completed, it's the building department that issues the certificates of occupancy. The FD then only inspects and enforces certain aspects of the building, usually related to egress lighting, alarm and annuciator systems, etc... As example, the NYFD does not keep up with whether our generators are checked monthly, as per code.

SB
 

Chris15

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SteveB said:
The FD then only inspects and enforces certain aspects of the building, usually related to egress lighting...
Down here emergency lighting and egress lighting are one and the same. Are they not in the US? Regardless, there will be some government department who, if they are feeling petty enough can fail the emergency lighting and consequently shut the theatre down. Have I heard something about electrical inspectors in the past? If so, they might be ones who might have an opinion on this.

I maintain that it is not something that school students should be doing, and that the school or venue management should be engaging a competent professional to do this work.

Edit: Also, isn't there a big deal about UL listings in the states? I suspect that in order to maintain those ratings that they need to be installed by a competent person.
 

ship

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Agreed with the above, planning, installation and testing of emergency and egress lighting must be done by those licenced and trained to do so. You could recommend stuff like LED systems which might stay on longer or be more efficient but from the yearly testing of if they work or not to the planning and installation, not something other than the school administration and it's contractors should be worrying about.

Lots of rules and power transfer concepts that get expensive and complex in addition to alternatives such as seperate means of power which might qualifiy in some cases as emergency.
 

Pie4Weebl

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CowboyDan said:
Are you thinking of doing it yourself or are you just looking for recommdations?
I think he is looking for reconmendations, just like every other purchasing thread in this board. Whenever I see I thread that is a you shouldn't do this at home sort of deal I think people are just askign whether brand A or B products are better. But everyone always takes that elitist tone and goes on about how they shouldn't be doing it, and ignores the actual point of the thread.
 

Chris15

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Pie4Weebl said:
I think he is looking for reconmendations, just like every other purchasing thread in this board. Whenever I see I thread that is a you shouldn't do this at home sort of deal I think people are just askign whether brand A or B products are better. But everyone always takes that elitist tone and goes on about how they shouldn't be doing it, and ignores the actual point of the thread.
Might I quote the original post
I am working to upgrade the safety systems...
Now to me, that sounds like they are planning to do it themselves. Also, whilst you might read the post as being recommendations, not everyone else does. I read it as though they had the intention of doing the work and so that governed my response. Where something like this comes up and it is ambiguous, then there is a need to ensure the safety of all, and so we tend to chime in and say that doing this yourself is not a good idea. Now I know when I say don't do it yourself, I don't intend to kill off the thread, rather I need to impress upon anyone reading the thread that do it wrong and you could be in a very unpleasant situation.

Could you please explain why you think that putting safety first is, as you term it, taking an elitist tone / approach?
 

Foxinabox10

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I think what Pie4Weebl is trying to say is that maybe approaching the poster by asking him if he was planning on doing it himself and suggesting reasons why he shouldn't rather than lecturing him on how it's a stupid decision to do the work himself...he may have never planned to do it.

I know that I have been working for three years to get an upgraded booth and equipment in our school and when I asked what people would want in a booth, I didn't get people jumping down my throat saying that I shouldn't be doing it myself and the electrical work should be left to an electrician, etc.

I think we all just need to calm down a little bit with our tone as to not belittle people.
 

Chris15

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Ah, the number one problem with the internet, inability to distinguish tone. Rereading my last post, I can see that its intent may be ambiguous. I genuinely would like to know what it is that make Pie4Weebl say we take an elitist tone. Obviously I don't agree that it is an elitist approach, nor do I intend that any of my posts come across with elitist overtones rather I would like to know why it appears that way so as to avoid it in the future.

I think this is the point where if anyone wants to further discuss my point of view in this matter, that they PM me. It's not something that everyone needs to read and it will just end up with the thread degenerating further.

I think that if RGermain could clarify their question, specifically whether you want to know what products are available or whether you want to physically install them, then we might be able to actually answer the question rather than debating interpretations of the question and their implications.

What would also be of use if some further details. I am sure that there are 101 different emergency lighting systems out there. Telling us what you've got, what's wrong with it and something about the space it is in will allow us to better answer the question. I mean there is no point in us giving recommendations for the corridor when you meant a 1000 seat auditorium. The details of the space are rather necessary in formulating relevant recommendations.

Apologies to anyone who has interpreted my posts as offensive in any way, clearly that was not my intention.
 

CowboyDan

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To answer the question that started this, I like bug eye emergency lights. They are bright and aimable so in my opinion they can cover more area with fewer lights. Thus saving money which everyone likes. However you want enough lights so that if you have a full house everyone can get out of the theater without a problem. Most of these lights have a battery pack that can last up to six hours. I hope that helps. Anymore questions just ask.

Have fun with it.

Dan
 

ship

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Ellistis? Spent years collecting up info on beam angles of all low voltage PAR lamps on the market, If I wander into the Home Depot or even electrical supplier and ask about a #4446 potential to be lamped within the exit light, I'm goitn to get a blank stare. On the other hand, in doing it myself and now specifying a say 80 degree by 80 degree 12v lamp, I'm specifying a specific lamp I studied and asking those who might know better than I requirements of exit lights they sell the permissibility of substituting one lamp for another. This all given an assumed but known by nobody intendended intensity to the lamps will need to be maintained no matter the beam angle. Amongst other instances such as one only has one fixture, yep wider beams of light are available yet it still won't light the audience sufficiently.


Ever so many questions in design of exit escape lighting. Not something elitist as if it's DMX protocol and you have no business learning it because you are not one of the club, instead it's both liability in perhaps having learned some but not mastering it or knowing enough about the situation to offer advice, perhaps it's in knowing enough about it one knows that providing any answer that is used even on a fixture won't help in all situations.


Such a question as escape and exit lighting is stuff for the professionals. It's not in any way the same unless instead of wiring your booth (you should not be doing by the way - even if you can and do) you are also specifying how many tons your air conditioner for the theater needs to be, or what thickness and size of web the I-beam across the procenium opening needs to be.

Uhm, in making a doorway thru a 18" thick brick wall 12' high, what thickness does the steel plate over the door need to be? Yea, one can study into and figure it out for the most part as with exit lighting one can possibly study into it's need and placement, but it's best left to someone that understands to the fullest extent the requirements of it.

As above, I did recommend LED exits. Should for instance power to the theater go out for two hours, you now need to replace all batteries that run out otherwise at a not so cheap price once out of power. This because exit lights once drained will no longer re-charge and LED batteries in being smaller and often lasting longer at least are less expensive. This in addition to lamps that have longer lamp hours as a benefit in cost savings.

Ellitist... yea, had a drawing of the theater I might sit down with illuminumation levels, escape lighting rules etc. As an in general advice type of thing on the other hand, I would think the best advice was that this in being very important and something tech people are neither qualified to be doing nor should be was in advice best to offer advice that it was not stuff to mess with. At times in doing tech, there will be stuff you just won't touch. Often what is not or should not be touched in keeping to those bounds is the mark of those ready to but not and those not ready to and to be concerned over what else they are not ready to touch.

A question in defending this statement.

What's the minimum illuminance level of egress emergency lighting levels? Anyone out there know it? I know it's somethign I studied in the past but dont' remember now. Why is this that I do't remember it but do remember normal foot candle levels on stage?

In offering advice on something this important, get it wrong short of specifying the seeking of help on and should people die, it's blood on your hands in attempting to help.

This than probably is more the reason why less useful advice perhaps was given on the subject.
 

Chris15

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The six hour battery pack is interesting. Down here, Australian Standards require that it still be working after 2 hours only. You actually have to check that they are still working after 2 hours as part of the periodic testing / maintenance. I guess it shows the differences in standards.
 

CowboyDan

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