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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 365 (327)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 365
Page 365

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 365

Safety Precautions for Theatre Personnel

A Carefully Prepared List of the Duties of The Staff To Prevent and Fight Fire and Panic

BRIEF: Theatremen . . . as a rule . . .

are easy-going and optimistic fellows . . . to whom disaster appears a distant and unlikely contingency . . .

Fire, however . . . and the awesome panic which often accompanies it . . . plays no favorites . . . A theatre, therefore, must be fully prepared to meet such emergencies with more effective means than. slipshod fire drills and inspections . . . The following safety measures have proven invaluable for theatres.


Unfortunately, fire is a calamity that strikes without warning, throwing theatre audiences into a state of panic. Feeling trapped and helpless, people react violently to any sudden appearance of fiame and smoke.

Fully aware of this menace, one of the larger theatre circuits recently reexamined the whole problem of fire and panic prevention. It formulated a forthright and simple list of safety practices, which it distributed to all employees.

One of these, frequently confirmed in use, stands out with special significance. It is described as CALMNESS in the face of an emergency, an attitude possible only when members of a staff are thoroughly rehearsed in safety precautions and, therefore, sure of their roles in case of fire or other disaster.

A staff which is calm itself not only can get the attention of an audience but can hold it with assurance while coping summarily, for example, with a small, smoky blaze in the basement. And during the course of a really serious fire, while members of the audience are being whisked from a burning building, a calm front may stave off complete chaos.

This is the list of do's and donit's in prevention of and in case of fire, broadcast by the circuit to its employees:


1. Will be thoroughly familiar with all local ordinances relating to fire prevention, fire protection and safety in the theatre. He will be responsible for the safety of all patrons and employees in the building through his supervision in carrying out every regulation in this outline.

2. He will inform all of his employees of the local ordinances mentioned in Number 1 above.

3. He will make, daily inspections of all exits, panic bolts, etc., making more frequent checks of exits during freezing weather to make sure the doors are not frozen tight. In the event panic bolts are not working properly, this situation will be corrected without ANY DELAY.

4. A weekly inspection will be made of all first-aid and fire-fighting equipment, making sure that they are in their proper places and in working order.


5. Make immediate investigations of all reports from employees or patrons of possible hazardous conditions, such as blocked aisles or doorways, torn carpets, excessive trash in rest rooms-just to mention a few. Have the hazardous condition remedied immediately.

6. Maintain strict supervision over the disposition of refuse. See that it is collected as often as possible by some means.

7. Maintain strict supervision over the storing of cleaning materials or any other inflammable material. Keep in a fireproof storage place, allowing no smoking around them.

FIRE HOSE UNITS must be inspected regularly to make sure they are in good working order. Honald Penny. left. chief engineer. and manager Eugene Pleshetta check one at the M tire-lighting units at the Paramount. Brooklyn. N. Y.

8. Have air ducts thoroughly cleaned at regular intervals, allowing no trash to accumulate in them.

9. Make a personal tour of inspection of all parts of the theatre daily to insure that all safety regulations and precautions are being carried out properly.

10. Explain to all ushers exactly which lights must be burning at all times when the theatre is open to the public. Instruct them to observe all of these lights and advise you or your assistant immediately if any of them are out. Replace them without delay.

11. Station at least one usher inside the auditorium on each floor that is occupied during operating hours.

12. Maintain strict personal supervision over crowds when the theatre is filled and people are waiting in line.

Hold lobby standees to an absolute minimum.

13. Arrange for a fire drill prior to opening time at least once a month. This will be done at a time when most employees are on duty.


1. As soon as smoke or any signs of fire are detected, make an immediate and hurried examination. Unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE BEYOND ANY DOUBT that it is minor and an extinguisher will put the fire out, call the fire department at once. This is where a great deal of good judgment and common sense will have to be exercised quickly. In many fires, a few minutes delay in calling the fire department has cost many lives. If the fire department is called, donit sit and wait for them to arrive. Use all proper emergency extinguishers at hand to fight the fire and hold it in check.

2. If it is necessary to evacuate the building, make a CALM PERSONAL appeal, in full view of the audience from the stage if possible, explaining that there is an emergency and that the building must be evacuated. Ask that they WALK quietly to the nearest exit. You must be calm in appearing before the audience so as to reflect a calmness in them. Tell them that you are the manager.

3. Direct the emergency fire fighting until the flre department arrives.

During the managers absence the assistant or an appointed person will be in charge of the theatre and will carry out the managers duties.

Assistant Manager

1. Assist the manager in the discharge of his duties.

2. He will be qualified to carry out all of the duties of the manager listed above.

3. In the absence of the manager, the assistant will assume the responsibilities and duties of the manager.

4. In the absence of the assistant, 3 person familiar with all parts of this paper will be designated in charge of the theatre.

5. In case of an evacuation. see that all exit doors are opened. Notify operators.

6. Assist every way possible in the evacuation.


1. Report to the manager immediately any equipment found in improper working condition.

2. In case of fire, drop shutters in the projection booth immediately.

3. Upon receipt of notice of evacuation from manager or assistant, turn up house lights, drop shutters, turn off machines and turn off all other high voltage possible without putting' out house

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 365