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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 531 (505)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 531
Page 531

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 531

Theatre Fire Tragedies Are Preventable

Suggestions Given on How to Prevent Fires And to Train Personnel for Any Emergency

Over 1,400 theatre fires occur in the United States every year, and they involve a total property loss of nearly $5,000,000, plus indirect losses which include a number of human lives that are incapacitated or snuffed out when these fires occur. This means that an average of four or five theatre fires are breaking out every day. It also means that in a years time enough persons are killed or injured in theatre fires to total a spectacular loss. To cite a few examples:

Brockton, Massachusetts, March, 1941 -The roof of the Strand Theatre collapsed during a general alarm fire, killing 13 members of the fire department and injuring 17 more.

Salt Lake City, Utah, May, 1943# Three firemen were killed when the roof of the burning Victory Theatre collapsed.

Calumet, Michigan, Setember, 1943* Slight damage was caused to the projection booth at the Calumet Theatre when fire started in a film, but two projectionists suffered burns, and were hospitalized at Memorial Hosital.

Dyersville, Iowa, October, 1944-Film ignited and in no time at all the projection room of the Plaza Theatre was a blazing inferno; the projectionistls face was burned before he managed to escape.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, February, 194PA score of firemen were hurt, several of them seriously, in a five-hour battle to put out a fire which destroyed the Colonial Theatre building.


The Proiection Booth

The projection booth is where nearly half of our theatre fires get started, and it is in this area that most employe injuries or fatalities occur. Most theatres today are required to provide approved booths, modern projection machines designed to minimize the hazard of film ignition, and a variety of automatic safety devices developed to deal with fire if ignition does occur, but obviously this is not enough. It is essential for operators to possess judgment and sound training in what to do if a projection booth fire breaks out.

In the event of film fire, the projectionist should immediately shut down the machine and are lamps, operate the shutter release at the point nearest to him, turn on the auditorium lights, leave the projection room, close the fire doors, and notify the manager. If the booth is equipped with automatic extinguishers, they will ordinarily put out the fire. If hand extinguishers are provided, they should be available just outside the booth exits so they can be reached in an emerv gency. While one employe is quietly notifying the manager, another employe may be able to put out the fire with hand equipment, from a position outside the




Technical Secretary. National Fire Protection Association

booth, even before the automatic equipment goes into action.

It is never good judgment to remain inside the projection booth when fire starts because burning film is doubly treacherous: fire flashes through it, and it gives off toxic fumes. But very often such fires can be fought effectively, from a safe distance, with hand extinguishers.

Electric Wiring

Electric wiring is another important cause of fires. A theatre is generally

built with approved wiring, but as time goes by, insulation deteriorates, connections loosen, equipment suffers from wear, and some managements grow reckless about permitting the use of makeshift repairs or installations. Electrical installations should conform with the National Electrical Code, and equipment should be handled strictly in accordance with manufacturers= instructions.

All wiring and appliances should be inspected at regular intervals. Inspection should include all parts of theatre, with special attention being paid to the booth, wall switches, fuse boxes, outlets, complicated wiring designs, and transformers. If anything looks or sounds

THE THEATREMAN'S CONCEPTION OF HELL is well represented by the Fire that destroyed the RKO Strand Theatre, Dayton, Ohio, on January 27, 1943. Great damage can be caused by fires originating outside the theatre, as here the conflagration started in an adjoining restaurant. The progressive theatre owner, in cooperation with the local fire-department officials, will keep an eagle eye on all potential fire hazards preSent in his neighborhood.
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 531