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Does This Meet Code 9

Fire During a Live Show

Fire Safety during live performance is critical to occupant safety.  This includes proper training of participants, crowd control, and stage staff.  During a recent show of comedian Mike Birbiglia a fire started in the theatrical lighting above the stage in the fly area.

The fire is in a theatre which is at capacity.  Part way through his act a person in the audience notices something wrong with the lighting assembly (a light on fire).   The stage hands lower the rigging and put out the electrical fire, by unplugging the unit and the show goes on, so to meet your favorite question does this meet code (its our first video entry)?

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Chris M September 29, 2009, 8:03 pm

    now I never saw it on fire, but some people obviously did. I would imagine no one called the fire department. That COULD be the only violation that’s sticking out to me. But this could have been a “wanted”, as in part of his act, fire inwhich an emergency forces notification wouldn’t be required.

    If you were suggesting the facility be evacated, I’d like to see a code reference. Been one of my pet peeves for a while, that is a lack of evacuation requirement. And don’t start with that common sence stuff.

  • Bob D September 30, 2009, 7:28 am

    This violated two sections of the IFC 2009:

    401.3.1 Fire events. In the event an unwanted fire occurs on
    a property, the owner or occupant shall immediately report
    such condition to the fire department.

    401.4 Required plan implementation. In the event an
    unwanted fire is detected in a building or a fire alarm activates,
    the emergency plan shall be implemented.

  • Virginia Watson September 30, 2009, 7:43 am

    I find this troubling. Obviously this is a theatre, an assembly occupancy that should have notification signals (a fire alarm, with smoke detection and strobes as well as emergency lighting) that activate in the event of a fire. There was no sign of a fire alarm to notify the people that the place was in danger. The fire was supposedly extinguished but we have no idea of what caused the event or of the extent of the damage. We do not know if there was any extension and no idea if any further investigation ever took place. The audience was never adequately given information about the fire. It was debateable if the people even believed it was a potential danger or if the percieved it to be part of “the act”. I believe this was potentially a very dangerous situation.

  • Paul Dove September 30, 2009, 7:56 am

    The incident in question also violates NFPA 1 Chapter 10 “General Fire Safety Requirements” specifically:

    10.7.1.3* The owner, manager, occupant, or any person in control of such building or premises, upon discovery of an unwanted fire or evidence of a previous unwanted fire that had apparently been extinguished, shall immediately notify the fire department.

    10.7.1.4 Persons shall not make, issue, post, or maintain any regulation or order, written or verbal, that would require any person to take any unnecessary delaying action prior to reporting a fire to the fire department.

  • Lt. Sally McCann-Mirise September 30, 2009, 12:02 pm

    I agree with Paul, Virginia and Bob D. This IS and issue. It’s obviously a concern and the audience didn’t appear to be aware that it was a problem. That could have been another “Station” fire, “Beverly Hills Club” fire etc. It has happened before, we all know that, but wait, “it hasn’t happened here”……full evacuation and calling the fire department would have been appropriate.

  • Michael Laster September 30, 2009, 12:45 pm

    The code cites are correct. However, we do not see any fire in the video. It appears audience members noticed the problem and alerted the performer who continued in a comedic tone. Maybe the performer should have stopped his act and left the stage until the issue was resolved. Facility personnel then could have given the audience instructions andinformation on the level of the “emergency”

    We do not know what took place out of our view. Perhaps there was a plan in place and it was followed. Perhaps the fire department was called. Simply, the video does not provide enough information to determine if any violations occured.

  • Richard September 30, 2009, 12:47 pm

    Yes folks there were absolutally multiple code violations. The facility management put their customers in a dangerious situation. While it would take time for a complete evacuation, the safety precaution should have been taken to assure public safety in a large assembly occupancy.

    How many inspection divisions have code enforcement teeth to help the management of a facility like this, to understand their responsibility, to protect the public. Not just their bottom line. Management just can’t get the concept of it can happen here, not just to someone else.

  • Chris M September 30, 2009, 12:51 pm

    Believe me, I find this troubling also, and feel it IS an issue also. I’ve done a little more research since my last answer, I didn’t have the code in front of me. Not implementing the emergency plan would be a start.

    If the fire was a “wanted” fire 308.3.6 would come in and would have to be approved so the code official would have knowledge about it. But if the was an unwanted fire, notification and implementing the plan is an issue.

    I ask this, If this occurred in a facility which, by code didn’t require a fire safety plan, what would be our recourse in them not evacuating? I don’t know of any code section that would require an evacuation.

  • John Petras October 2, 2009, 8:33 am

    Now the rest of the story….. The fire involved two (2) plastic wire nuts that had melted onto the scene lights. The fire was out prior to the light bar being lowered. The remaining lights were checked and repaired as needed. FYI- this venue has annual inspections and numerous spot inspections. The building is fully alarmed, sprinklered and a safety plan is in place. Having inspected this venue numerous times, I never thought to check the ~50 scene lights for the stage. Although the local FD does all the inspections and safety checks, in Michigan, the state Fire Marshal has authority on all public assembly locations (even though they do not do inspections). Go figure.

  • Mike OBrian October 2, 2009, 12:22 pm

    All some great comments and I do have to back up Inspector Petras on this one. We posted the video before we new where it was, and then shortly later found out the location. Current Fire Marshal and Previous have worked diligently at the inspection process in this facility as it is very popular.

    I think the video demonstrated how important training of all persons associated with a live event truly is. Mike B was there to do a show and kept it going. I think we all would have liked to have seen him provide some prompting as opposed to the making it humorous.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Dennis G. Nolan October 7, 2009, 4:29 pm

    Do you suppose anyone has shared this video with the theater owners? . . . or their insurance company? Maybe someone should take a look at the rest of the lights.

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