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Topic: Fog Machines and Fire Code
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 23, 2011 08:45AM)
Sorry if this has been asked and answered, but do fog machines fall under fire code regulations?
Message: Posted by: Octarine Prince (Jun 23, 2011 10:00AM)
Anything that has the potential to spark a fire (rare with a fog machine) or can produce something that can obscure exits (DEFINITELY!) would fall under fire code. Check the municipality that you are performing in for specifics.
Message: Posted by: Matthew W (Jun 23, 2011 10:19AM)
Always check with the local fire chief where you are performing before the show. Find out what type of smoke detectors are installed (particle or heat).

I believe it is legal to have the detectors turned off for a performance.

The best thing to do is to talk with a fire marshall or fire chief. You should be able to get the info you need.
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Jun 23, 2011 12:06PM)
It is illegal to turn off fire alarms in general. The loop hole is that if you do pay fire marshals to stand by during a performance on "Fire Watch" you can turn off the selected detectors for a short time while the area is being monitored. We frequently have to do this on larger events where smoke or fog effects are used.

It costs more but if the effects are worth it, you do it.
Message: Posted by: Ace of Spades (Jul 9, 2011 03:09PM)
Yes, we have to do this all the time for our shows.
Message: Posted by: charliecheckers (Aug 8, 2011 11:25AM)
I would just ask permission first as common cutesy... last year I did a Halloween show for a FIRE HALL and failed to ask permission to use a fog machine effect... oops.
Message: Posted by: chleby (Sep 23, 2011 03:54PM)
Just this past spring we set off the fire alarms at a high school performance in a theatre with a hazer. Had to evacuate the entire theatre until the fire department came to clear the school. It is always a good idea to ask what kind of detection system the venue has. A particle system will almost definitely go off where a heat system will not. Also, as stated before you can have the fire alarm system disabled by the fire chief if they a hired to be on hand in case of emergency.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (Toronto) (Sep 30, 2011 08:45PM)
We are hoping to have a 3 or 4 second burst of smoke from a smoke machine to cover Santa's magical arrival. Do you think such a short burst could set off smoke detectors? What if we use C02?
Message: Posted by: extremeeric (Oct 2, 2011 10:25PM)
Depending on how much fog is produced in those 4 seconds and the type of detectors, it could definitely set it off. Co2 I don't think should set it off.
Message: Posted by: Jinx13 (Oct 9, 2011 04:34PM)
Christopher, depending on the smoke machine 3-4 seconds of burst will not create enough coverage. I have used CO2 fire extinguishers in the past for a similar purpose. They can get the screen up fast enough and have the ability to have some control to spread it around. The draw back is they obviously need to be operated by some on visibly. Just make sure you have a CO2 extinguisher, the foam or powder ones are a pain to clean up.

David J
Message: Posted by: Ray Pierce (Oct 9, 2011 05:14PM)
Christopher, these are all good comments above. It depends on the number of cubic feet in the room, the proximity of the detector, and the volume or output of the machine that you choose. In a small enough room and having a detector very close by, even a small machine could easily set it off. It also depends on the type of detector as to whether or not CO2 would set it off. It's always a great idea to do a tech scout or site survey with the specific venue to determine what potential problems could arise. CO2 does not form a particular in the air like pyrotechnics put out, but it still decreases visibility and certain types of infrared detectors could be set off. The advantage of CO2 is that it doesn't linger and dissipates quickly, so unless you are shooting CO2 directly into the detector it should dissipate into the air as an invisible liquid vapor and not be a problem.

The real question is whether or not you need 100% coverage of the smoke machine to cover the method of the appearance. I really don't like to rely upon smoke(whether CO2 pyrotechnic or glycol-based smoke machine) to provide the full cover for any type of magic effect. If you do you will always want an alternative cover as a backup in case for any reason the smoke affect does not give you the coverage you need. You can practice, rehearse in the venue, and at showtime all it will take is one air conditioner vent blowing through a little more than normal to dissipate the smoke and expose the effect.

I prefer to use a self-contained method where the smoke is only an additional production element to make it more spectacular. Then if there is a change at the last minute or you can't use smoke for any reason, at least you still have a show.

Good luck on the project!