The use of any type of pyrotechnic device is highly discouraged.
In most jurisdictions the Fire Marshal must
(not an optional decision
) approve the effect, and the operator of the effect typically must have a special license to execute the effect. Your school's Risk Manager (from an insurance perspective) and Safety Officer (assuming they are anything but a glorified off-duty police officer - many persons with this title have no training in safety
, they only provide security
services) may want to weigh-in on this decision, too.
The concern for safety is VERY REAL. If you need a refresher, go read-up about The Station Nightclub fire
that killed 100 people in less than 10 minutes. John Barylick's book "Killer Show" is an amazing, and sobering read.
If your stage anything is like 99.9% of the stages I visit, the costumes, set pieces, platforms, drapes, and props are all fabricated from combustible materials and they probably have not treated any of them with fire retardants as required by the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, Chapters 12 and 13. Also read-up about the Iroquois Theatre Fire
. This was the instigation for theatre-related fire codes over 100 years ago, and many of the theatres I visit have not learned a single thing from this:
- Combustible Scenery, Props, Costumes.
- Blocked Fire Egress Routes and Exit Doors.
- Fire Doors with latches defeated.
- Fire Doors with automatic closers defeated.
- Fire Doors propped-open.
- Fire Doors locked (No operable emergency egress hardware).
- Smoke Vents inoperable and have not been inspected semi-annually.
- Fire Curtains that are not functional and have not been inspected annually.
- Emergency Lighting Systems that are not fully functional.
- Fire Extinguishers missing, not marked, and/or inaccessible.
- No Trained Crowd Managers (1 per 250 persons per NPFA 101 Life Safety Code)
I've personally experienced mis-fired unauthorized home-made flash-pots that did permanent hearing damage to hundreds of audience members and destroyed thousands of dollars of loudspeakers due to the blast pressure wave. Flash Pots can be very unpredictable - and the people that load them are even more unreliable
. Do you really want to risk this?
Strobes for the Flash, sound effects for the Boom, and cued atmospheric effects for the Smoke.
If you involve atmospheric effects in your shows, you should bring-in your school's fire alarm company to supervise some tests with the atmospheric effects, as some smoke detection systems can be false-triggered. You need to test this with the HVAC On and
Off as this significantly changes the way the smoke propagates through the venue. This can lead to a VERY BIG FINE unless you have made prior arrangements with the Fire Department.
You don't want the effects to drift into the audience as this can trigger breathing problems for some audience members.
You don't want the effects to mask the front of the stage apron if there are actors in the area as this can disorient them and they might inadvertently step off of the stage edge, fall, and be injured.