Fire hazard


The set designer had questioned me the lighting director on the potential hazards of having fabric too close to lights. Even though there are so many variables involved as far as fabric type etc. are there any guidelines regarding this matter? Thanks Ampacity
I would contact your local authorities. Also - knowing where you are may help others in answering your question. I am in Australia and would imagine that our regs are different from yours. If you are in the US, they may even vary between states.

On something this important, I would seek the advice from your local fire inspector (or similar).
Common sense tells you that the light can not touch drapes. Ususally half a foot is acceptable for a 6" Fresnel at 500 watts. Zee Tek is a fireproof material that is hung between an electric and a drape that must touch. This material is made of fiberglass and is placed between the light and curtain.

As to the original post, a way you can ensure there will be no problem is to flameproof the fabric. I assume you are referring to something other than a drape, which should be flameproofed already. Rosco makes a liuid which can be applied to fabric which will flameproof it. As for a guide line for this, there is none.

In a theatre it is common procedure to flameproof all of the set peices and dressing. It is an excellent idea, and is required by law in some localites. Your TD should have the final in house call on this.

The best bet is to give your local fire department or Fire Marshall a call and have them step in and decide what is best.

If in doubt, loose the fabric and avoid a possible fire hazard. Its not worth risking loss of life or property.
we are required to spray EVERYTHING with flamebar (the most evil stingy solution in the world).

Its a pain in the arse but has saved my skin once.

Its a H&S law for us in England
contact the fire marshall to do a check. strangely they usually come by about the same time to do a fire safety check as you are getting the final touches done on the set, for us any way. but they would be able to help you out.
contact the fire marshall to do a check. strangely they usually come by about the same time to do a fire safety check as you are getting the final touches done on the set, for us any way. but they would be able to help you out.
Flame proofing drape is a bit confusing. No flame treatment is flame proof. Instead it's a flame retardant in that the drape will not catch on fire, but if the lights are too close to it, it's still going to scorch and destroy the drape in that the fibers will burn, they just won't ignite.

Flame treatment to drapes is also not a perminant thing. Each drape with flame treatment will have a tag in their corner stating the treatment done to them and the date of application. This treatment is normally good for five years, and after that your drape is no longer considered flame retardant. Should you send the drape in for cleaning before this, it's also going to remove this treatment.

As a policy that is not followed as much as intended, every five years the drapery is supposted to go in for cleaning and re-treatment. Again it's not followed much but this is the intent of the drapes in making them flame resistant.

A final note is that on a 500w Fresnel, the six inch rule would probably be fine for show use given the fixtures are not left on more than a few hours, but if it's a static position, and a fixture that will be on constantly you might wish to increase the distance or add the Zenotex. Heat builds up on the drape and very possibly will with time scorch it.
As a general rule, a foot of space should be enough. Of corse, as everyone said, it depends on lots of other things, but at a foot to 18 inches, you should be safe.

Remember though, its better to have more distance then less--just in case.
This seems like a good place for a little anecdote that has been floating around our theatre for quite a while. We have six Altman Q-Lites hanging on our electrics that we use as work lights. (They're on whenever anyone is in the theatre.) One day during lunch one of those pipes was at floor level because the techies were adjusting the other instruments on the batten for a show. The lunch bell caught the techie in charge of the effort, and he hurried off to his next class without flying the pipe back to trim. Nobody came in the room for about three hours, and when someone finally did, the 100W Q-Lites had burned 6" holes in the marley beneath, completely ruining a whole sheet of marley. The instruments were at least 30" away from the floor at that time.

Keep in mind, this is direct light, pointed straight at the floor, and those suckers get really toasty. We're lucky this little gaffe didn't set the place on fire.

This shouldn't happen with most instruments, though. The Q-Lite is one of the hottest things I've ever worked with. While Altman ellipsoidals take about 5-10 minutes at full before they're too hot to touch, the Q-Lite reaches that level almost instantaneously. I was amazed when I found the wattage on the site I linked to above. I had thought that they used at least 500 watts, but it's only 100.

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