Sunday, January 31, 2010

No, I said 'Glowable' Tape, Not 'Global' Tape

So, just where do you get this Strontium Aluminate based Glow-In-The-Dark stuff?  Point your search engine toward "Photoluminescent" and about a bazillion possibilities come-up.  You are going to be looking for items that meet the codes and standards mentioned on the PSA and PSPA web sites (see previous post).  If the products don't meet or exceed these standards, then you may be looking at inferior products.

A few of my favorite suppliers are:
American Permalight ( (Check-out the 81-2700 series glow tape - great for theatre !)
Balco (
EcoGlo (
EvacMap (
EverGlow (
GloBright (
GloNation (
Johnsonite Safe-T-First (
KanKote GlowGrip Paint (
KemCo Technology (
NightBright (
Safe Passage (
Suma Industries (
Zero International (

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Things that Glow-In-The-Dark

"Glow-Tape" is a staple of any theatre operation.  Its great for making all those things that are shin-busters, head-bangers, and fall-hazards.  How many times have you run-around five minutes before a show with a flash-light 'charging-up' the glow-tape?  Crazy, isn't it?  Especially if you have to do it again between each act.  And after awhile, it just won't 'take a charge' and you have to repace it.  What a pain.

Technology marches forward, and we in the theatre industry benefit from it.  Cool.  The problem is, what if no-one told you there was a better way?  Introducing high-tech glow tape that really does the jobStrontium-Aluminate (SrAl) is a chemical compound that is non-toxic, non-radioactive, and generally safe to work with.  It has the ability to be 'charged-up' (activated with UV light) and maintain it's glow for 8, 12, 24, even 48 hours (depending upon the exact formulation) after it is activated.  Some products will glow for up to 45 days.  Wow.  Good Stuff.  Very Good Stuff.  This ain't your father's glow tape.  Uh-uh.  And get this: A quality Strontium-Aluminate based product will typically last 20-30 years.  Oooh.  Ahh.  (And the crowd cheers.)

Over the next few posts I'm going to provide information about some of the great benefits and products that are out there that are extremely applicable to the performing arts environment.  Glowing stuff is not just for backstage, it's for many locations around your facility.

For starters, lets look at the great literature that is available.  Check out these web sites for some very good reading material:

PSA (Photoluminescent Safety Association):
Check-out their various tabs, particularly the 'Codes' section.

PSPA (Photoluminescent Safety Products Association)
Download their "PSPA Guide to the Use of Photoluminescent Safety Markings Part 1 Egress Markings in Stairwells" document on the Technical | Standards tab - it's a treasure trove of recommendations.

And for a commonly used reference in the US, visit the New York City Department of Buildings web site to get "Reference Standard 6-1 - Photoluminescent exit path markings"

Friday, January 29, 2010

Have a blast: ASP announces Training Courses for Stage Pyrotechnics in the UK

The Association of Stage Pyrotechnicians has announce five training classes to be held in the UK during 2010.  Visit their web site:  and take a look around.  This is a great resource for information and links.  Click on "Current Courses" for the traing schedule offerings.

It's a blast: Pyro Operational Safety Awareness Courses offered in UK

The Association of Stage Pyrotechnicians ( has announced that they will be hosting five Pyro Training Courses in the UK in February, June, July, and October 2010.  Visit their web page and click on: "Current Courses".

While you are there take a look around.  This web site has many good resources and links.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's about time . . . to replace your smoke detector.

Most theatres have Smoke Detectors as a part of their Fire Detection and Alarm System.  For many years these devices have been the bane of Stage Managers because they unexpectedly trip a Fire Alarm when smoke, fog, haze, dust or other atmospheric effects are used during shows.  Building and Fire codes have recognized this problem and some now require that smoke detectors in the fly loft are replaced with Rate-of-Rise type thermal detectors. These detectors are not sensitive to visible atmospheric effects, but instead look at how rapidly the temperature changes.  That works great if you have a burning fire, but does little to detect a smoldering fire.  A smoldering fire can ruin drapes and scenery, and if unchecked, can leak smoke into other parts of a facility as well.

In recognition that fires are serious events in performance spaces, and also that false alarms can be quite disruptive to a show, several manufacturers have developed sensors that employ multiple fire detection technologies.  One of these stands-out above the rest and should be considered when upgrading your systems to meet the current fire safety codes (or to get rid of those pesky false alarms):  It is the 2251-COPTIR Advanced Multi-Criteria Fire Detector manufactured by System Sensor (

The sensor’s four elements — photoelectric, thermal, carbon monoxide (CO), and infrared — all work together to intelligently analyze the environment and decide whether the sensors are detecting a true fire condition or a nuisance condition. The Advanced Multi-Criteria Fire Detector samples the environment every five seconds with each of these four elements and will only sound the alarm when at least two of the four elements positively confirm a fire.

Having these sensing elements working in tandem is what sets the detector apart from any other technology available on the market. The confirmation and intelligent assessment capabilities will also prove to be ideal for places that are prone to nuisance alarms. Such sites include theaters and other entertainment venues that use special effect smoke.

“It allows us to provide the most accurate fire detection possible while providing superior nuisance rejection for those problem sites,” said Todd Alford, product manager. “Different fires have different characteristics, and each fire is a little bit different. By combining four elements, we can successfully filter out nuisance concerns and provide accurate fire detection.”

One side note:  The detector's CO (Carbon Monoxide) sensor has a limited life span and must be replaced about every 5-6 years.  The good news is that just because the CO detector ceases to function after that time, doesn't mean that the rest of the Multi-Function fire detector quits working - it just looses one of it's areas of sensitivity.  A small price to pay for virtually no false alarms.  Besides that, if you KNOW it must be replaced after a finite time, then you can PLAN FOR IT, and GET IT IN THE BUDGET and ONTO THE MAINTENANCE CALENDARwhat a concept — planning for an equipment failure — before it happens.
Check-out their web site — it has cool videos demonstrating the technology, data sheets, white papers, and more.

Also,  System Sensor OEM's this product to multiple Fire Alarm Panel manufacturers.  Notifier offers it as IntelliQuad with the model number FSC-851.  Gamewell-FCI offers it as 4-WARN with the model number FCS-4-WARN.  Honeywell offers it as COPITR, with the model number TC840C1000.  And finally, Johnson Controls offers it as COPTIR with the model number 2951J-COPTIR.

Caveat:  Fly lofts above stages can become very warm in the summer months, particularly in warmer climates, so warm in fact, that conventional 165°F fusible links can sometimes separate prematurely.  Selecting, configuring, and installing the correct type of sensor must be done by a licensed fire protection professional so that all of these factors can be taken into account.  Don't expect them to fully understand the temperature profile of your fly loft - have them measure it under worst-case conditions so they know what to expect.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Weather Safety for Outdoor Venues

Here's a handy little device that just might save your bacon (or maybe keep it from becoming bacon).  ThunderBolt International ( has a portable lightning strike monitor that will detect storms up to 75 miles away and provide you with an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival).  This last summer saw way too many outdoor shows that were devastated by storms that resulted in serious injuries and deaths.
This information in combination with a live weather map from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - or other reliable weather reporting source can provide you with advance warning of incoming weather fronts.  You can also get portable weather stations that can accurately monitor local wind speeds and barometric pressure drops - just enter "weather station" into your internet search engine and you will find plenty of information.

Don't wait until the last minute to clear the stage and audience.  Plan now for a safe summer tour season.