Yesterday evening I was working on lighting a show and we had a bunch of college crew come in for a work call, we had showed them how to tie off an electric then remove weights then take off the instruments incrementally , they all said that they knew how to do all of that ect, they first of all did not take off any weight or tie off the electric properly resulting in a runaway .

I was wondering if anyone else had a story like mine
We were taking the sky cyc down for some reason. There were about five of us. Our rigging flyman brought the batten down to seven feet and we had it untied in about two minutes. Our facility manager told him and another guy to bring the out of balance line in slowly. I was standing right under the batten putting the cyc up on a cart with the ME. Next thing I hear is BANG and little pieces of something falling. The line was probably around two hundred fifty pounds arbor heavy and fell about thirty feet. I believe that would make it seem like it was over two thousand pounds when it hit the hard wood. Either way, it was a rather nerve racking experience. If the pulleys hadn't held, I probably wouldn't be here to tell the story.
A few run-aways's in my past. Luckily never while I was master rigger or anyone on the rail. A few people burned their hands fairly well, another flew a few feet before he let go. Nope, never personally experienced it. Instead it's always been block and fall where needed, un-loading every few or weights while in range of the fly gallery, this much less always no matter how much when off loading, or bringing down an arbor heavy pipe, ensuring it cannot get out of control. This by way of twisting and a pipe in the twist to keep the rope from coming loose and or perstrustk (sp) knot left in place as we bring it down. Should there be a problem, that knot in not being advanced down to the next amount of lowering the pipe ensures that the arbor won't get out of control.

But this only under very out of weight conditions when I don't really have a choice. IN the past when doing rigging, I when possible made the choice to keep a balance of weight I could handle.

Bad time to learn is when expensive equipment and people's lives are in question. Hopefully those screwing up did learn a lesson.... na, probably not.

Feel for ya in having warned, next comes the tact and ability to ensure what instinct you seem to have had become the rule. This much less college kids..., yep depends upon the school and student. Just because someone's in college does not mean they are any more proficient than an amature in most cases, no matter what they think. Too bad they didn't listen to what your staff had to say by way of advice and instruction. I expect that as opposed to you in already knowing this stuff, those that did not listen won't at best be ready to learn for a few more years at best.

Tech's the person not always the school. Still the school helps when not hindering.
Unfortunately, yes I have had a runaway batton. Longstory short transferring a heavey piece of scenery from one batton to the next I believe the weight total was in the small thousands of pounds. Locked off the batton we were going to. However, forgot to lock off the batten we were transferring from (had it in my head to do just in too big of a hurry) As I was the one 15 feet in the air on a ladder undoing the last aircraft cable, I had the pleasure of having the last nut on the last saddle clip shearing off and narrowly missing my face only to have the aircraft cable swing through and take off as the batten that was being transferred from took off very arbor heavy. The batten slammed into the grid sending small pieces of concrete flying and the arbor crashing literally shattering the 2 by 4 at the bottom of the rail. When the amount of weight hit the rail it bent both of the arbor rods, as well as the steel beneath the rail. Luckily the weights didnt fall out this is why it very important to insert distribution plates between every 4 bricks.
I have a great running fly story. Well I have two, but I don't really count the one from high school anymore. So, this most recent incident happened on a Sunday evening strike call. My crew and I were in working just to get our onstage electrics struck so that the carpentry crew could come in and re-rig for the next show on the following Monday. Now of course you have to understand that I have come to trust all of my crew members and I always do anything I can to make our work environment safer.

So, we were down to stripping our last two battens, one a dedicated electric with raceway and one was a standard batten with drop boxes. So as usual I had my crew members strip the arbors to pipe weight and then off we went striking the lights cables and drop boxes. Well, I sent two of my crew up to fly out the battens so we could pack up and go home and as soon as they opened the brake on the plain batten it took off. Turns out when they had stripped the arbors to pipe weight they took the bare batten to the electrics weight and vice versa.

Well that was the longest few seconds in my life as I watched the arbor come down and smash into the stop rail and tension block. Being 400+ pounds out of weight the arbor sheared about 10 bolts off that connected the stop rail to the T-tracks. The tension block was shattered, the arbor bent, and lots of sparks went flying. Well on the stage most of the crew had scattered, and luckily my fly ops had enough presence of mind not to grab onto the purchase line.

On the batten side, the pipe smashed into the grid while passing through a fire sprinkler pipe on the way which burst. So after being showered with dust and debris from the grid it started raining thousands of gallons of water onto the stage. The fire alarms went off and about 5 minutes later there were fire trucks at our door. It took about 20 minutes for the fire department to get the water turned off at which point the stage, pit, trap room, crossover hall and basement of the theatre had been thoroughly soaked.

One of the other shows in one of our other spaces in the building had to be cancelled due to the water and lack of fire suppression system. Needless to say I was quite shaken as I am the ME and am responsible for my crew and the theatre when I am the only staff person here. Thankfully no one got hurt, and when our production manager got to the theatre that night what he said to me was: "Equipment we can fix, people we can't. So since no one was hurt you should relax."

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