Nightmares…

zombie fire

Haunt Fire Safety – Lessons Learned from a False Alarm

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog posts with this PSA on fire safety following a recent experience in a haunted house whose staff was woefully unprepared for a fire emergency.

 

The Incident:

Opening night of a local haunt, the house is full and I’m halfway through the show when the fire alarm activates, the house lights automatically turn on, and the notification devices begin making noise that vaguely sounds like it’s telling us to exit the building.

 

The Problem: 

The fire alarm sounds a lot like a stereotypical alarm sound that fit right into the scene we were in. Also since the house lights were floursecent, they took a little time to warm up to full brightness.

The patrons and the haunt staff were unsure if the alarm was real. (It’s also possible for patrons to be uncertain if fire is real or not as well since many haunts now use various fire effects)

 

The Problem worsens:

After the alarm kept sounding, the staff and patrons quieted down and we were finally able to understand that the annunciators meant that we should exit the building… Easier said than done.

THE ACTORS DID NOT HAVE ANY TRAINING AND DID NOT KNOW THE EMERGENCY EXIT ROUTES FROM THEIR SCENES

 

In total, this was a negligent and potentially fatal situation had there of been a real fire. Thankfully the alarm was simply a result of a dirty fog machine that had not been cleaned out prior to opening night, however with all the electrical lights, audio equipment, fog machines, animatronics, prop controllers etc that go along with any quality haunt, there are countless potential sources that could activate the fire alarm system, and the only safe thing to do is to evacuate the building until the source can be positively identified and controlled.

 

Lessons Learned:

* In an active haunt, a fire alarm can be more confusing than helpful When patrons are scared they are not thinking clearly. Have a plan in place and drill on it.

* All staff members should know their nearest emergency exit routes and be familiar with the fire alarm system, even on the first night of the season.

*Accountability must be kept, everyone should have designated meeting places outside so management can know if all staff exited safely and if they were able to clear their zones of patrons.

* Clean your fog machines prior to each season. Suddenly heating and blowing out months of buildup from inside the heat chamber can set off smoke detectors even when using water based fog solutions.

 

 

 

 

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