Sunday, January 22, 2017

actsafe Event Safety Conference 2017

February 20 and 21 in Burnaby (Vancouver area), British Colombia, Canada.  Two days of workshops and presentations.  Go to: for more information.

Workshop Presentation on Tuesday 3:30 - 5:00PM
Presenter: Erich Friend
Subject:    Hazard Recognition - Whoa!  I didn't see that coming . . .

Come see what it is you don't see

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Event Safety Alliance presents at ProLight+Sound Guangzhou 2017

Nightclub in Bucharest Gutted by Fire - 41 Injured

January 21, 2017 - Bucharest, Romania.  A fire, believed to be started by sparklers on drinks and / or patrons smoking that ignited the roof decor, gutted the Bamboo Nightclub and sent at least 41 people to the emergency room.  No deaths have been reported.  About half of the victims were transported by Emergency Vehicles, while others made their way there on their own.  Reported injuries included smoke inhalation, hypothermia because they ran from the burning building into outdoor temperatures of -12°C (-10°F) leaving their coats behind, and sprained ankles or broken bones because they jumped from the second floor of the building to escape.

(Image ISU via AP)
One witness said that waiters were serving bottles of drinks with sparklers stuck in the tops.  Fireworks and smoking are both illegal in nightclubs and public places in Romania.  Prosecutors have begun an inquiry about the building construction, permits, staff training, insurance, inspections, and other concerns.
(Image Andreea Alexandru via AP)
The Bamboo Club was originally opened in 2002, but was destroyed by a fire in 2005, and then rebuilt.

There is no information available at this time about the building being equipped with fire sprinklers, fire alarm system, or other fire fighting equipment.

Also See:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

OSHA issues fines for Stage Manager killed in blast

2016-02-03 -Last summer we reported about an incident in west Texas where a Stage Manager was killed when a pyrotechnics storage bunker for an outdoor show exploded  (

OSHA has now investigated the incident and issued a statement:  “A 21-year-old worker, with three months of work experience under her belt, lost her life because Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation failed to provide appropriate training and protective equipment to workers handling pyrotechnics.”

That was the assessment of Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA’s area director in Lubbock, Texas, after a young worker was fatally injured last summer while taking an inventory of the pyrotechnics for an outdoor musical production at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Canyon, Texas.

After an inspection following the fatality, OSHA issued six serious citations for failing to train workers on the use of explosives, provide fire retardant clothing, perform a hazard assessment and develop a written hazard communication program.

Proposed Penalties: $42,000

Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation is a performing arts employer.


Although $42,000 may not seem like much for a human life, this assessment of the situation opens the door for civil litigation so the victim's family can pursue further compensation.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Burn Survivor from The Station Nightclub fire speaks-out for the NFPA

On February 20th, 2003, a fire broke out in a nightclub that killed 100 people in just minutes.  Rob Feeney was there, and was one of the lucky ones that got out before the fire and smoke became to intense to survive.  Join Rob to read more about his experience at the NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

For other posts about nightclub fires use the Theatre Safety Blog's search for keyword 'Station Nightclub'.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Nightclub Fire in Romania Kills 27, Injures 170

2015-10-31 - Bucharest, Romania - An late night fire in a basement nightclub claimed 39 lives, injured over 190, and was completely predictable and preventable.  A heavy metal band Goodbye to Gravity gave a free Halloween concert at the Colectiv nightclub just south east of the city center, and during the show some fireworks (pyrotechnics) were set-off which ignited a foam covered column that was adjacent to the stage.  Witnesses said the fire rapidly spread across the foam and pine wood covered ceiling causing a panic in the crowd.

Ironically, the band had just played 'This is the Day We Die' from their new CD "Mantras of War", and then as they started into the next song the fire started.  Delia Tugui, a Spanish teacher at the American International School of Bucharest who was at the concert with her husband and son, said club goers were surprised by how fast the fire spread and panicked.
Moments before the fire
"The lead singer made a quick joke: 'This wasn't part of the program.'  The next second, he realized it wasn't a joke and asked for a fire extinguisher," she wrote on her Facebook page.  "In 30 seconds . . . the fire spread all over the ceiling.  People rushed to the entrance but it was too narrow, and people panicked.  Behind me people stampeded, climbing over each other, to try and get out."
The fireworks spray towards the foam covered column
"I was two meters from the door and I barely got out," she told The Associated Press.  "People started pushing each other, stamping on each other, it was incredibly quick."
Patrons still smiling unaware of the hell that was about to break loose
"Friends were looking for each other under the pile of people," she said. "It was a nightmare."

She said she knew some would not escape.

"I realized that those on the other side of the bar would not get out alive."

Once she got outside there was a blast and her hair caught fire, Tugui said.

"I tried to put it out with my hands and got burned.  People behind me were burned from head to toe."

A  3D computer generated graphic of the nightclub fire can be seen here.

The band’s lead singer, Alex Pascu, was hospitalized and later died.  Antena 3 TV said bass guitarist Alex Telea was reported missing by his parents, who have been searching for him.  he is also confirmed dead.

Florentina Dinca, 38, who lives opposite the nightclub, told The Associated Press there was chaos as emergency workers tried to aid the badly burned clubgoers.

"They were very frightened, they screamed, ambulances didn't know what to do," she said.  "Girls had their hair burned, they had burns on their faces.  It was terror."

“There was a stampede of people running out of the club,” a man who escaped without shoes told Reuters.

A young woman who sustained minor injuries described the club bursting into flames.  “In five seconds the whole ceiling was all on fire. In the next three we rushed to a single door,” she told television station Antena 3.

The nightclub had only one entrance / exit and it was just 80cm wide (31 1/2").  Paul Angelescu, a reporter with ProTV, said the mayor told him the venue had all the necessary permits to operate as a club, however, they did not have permits for any pyrotechnic use.  Further investigation will determine if the facility was indeed compliant with current local building codes.

The club was said to have 300-400 in attendance that night, and some were minors. It was only permitted for 80 occupants.  In Romania it is permissible for adults to bring their children into nightclubs, and occasionally unaccompanied minors enter the clubs because the monitoring of age is very lax.

The nightclub is one of dozens of clubs and bars that have sprung up in the Romanian capital in recent years, a lively city of 3 million renowned for its nightlife and long hours.

Shooting candles and indoor fireworks are common in bars and restaurants in Romania and enforcement of fire regulations is poor.

Twelve hospitals were filled with burn and smoke inhalation victims, and hundreds lined-up outside to donate blood.  The death toll is expected to rise.

Update:  Thousands of protesters in Romania have been gathered in Bucharest expressing anger towards the government for the lax building code enforcement that led to this tragedy.  Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his Cabinet resigned Wednesday, November 4 in response to public demands for accountability.

If this story seems all-to-familiar, numerous nightclub fires have been initiated by the illegal use of pyrotechnics which ignite foam materials used for sound absorption.  These include The Station nightclub fire in 2003 at West Warwick, Rhode Island, which killed 100 people; and and the Kiss nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil, which killed 242 people.

More coverage can be found at:

This blog entry updated 2015-11-07-10:15PM

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Helmets - Protecting your noggin at a fraction of the price of brain surgery

Typical 4-point suspension
ANSI type I protection
Traditional hard-hats used by construction workers aren't much more than a skid lid to keep your hair on your scalp.  That isn't to say it isn't a good thing, especially for us 'folically challenged' folks.  However, when you flip one of these over and study the inside you suddenly realize that the shock absorption mechanism is anything more than a few nylon ribbons that are supposed to 'predictably' fail and take some of the wham! out of the slam!-bam! of a falling object.

There is no joy in scraping your skull along the bottom of a low-lying air duct, sprinkler pipe, or cross-bracing steel.  The pain is excruciating, and dripping blood from the catwalk is poor manners.

A few years ago, well actually ALOT of years ago, helmet manufacturers realized that adding a layer of crushable foam (typically styrofoam) to the inside of a helmet would increase the energy dissipation significantly.  We first saw this technology applied to motorcycle and auto racing helmets, and then to bicycle helmets.  It eventually made its way into rock climbing helmets, and from there into the world of construction helmets.
KASK Super Plasma Helmet interior view - ANSI type II protection.
Note the two layers of padding:  both Styrofoam and a fabric covered foam cushion.

Conventional hard hat with 4-point chin strap
Although you can buy accessory chin straps for cheap hard-hats, the chin straps don't always stay attached, they are difficult to find and buy, and they frequently cost more than the hard-hat itself.  In the theatre and show production industry we seem to spend a lot of time either bent over (hold the jokes please . . .) or working at height.  Both of these work situations demand that your PPE remain secured to your person.  You don't want you hard-hat falling into the scenery that you are painting, and you don't want it to fall from the truss or catwalk you are working upon.  Either way, when your hard-hat departs your head you are exposing yourself to injury AND you may be exposing the inattentive and unwilling participant below you to the full impact of your helmet on their head.  Hopefully, they are wearing some head protection, too!

Single chin strap accessory
So, if you drop you helmet to the stage floor below, will it damage it?  Yes, it will.  The next stop for that hard-hat is the dumpster.  You probably can't see the micro-fractures that impact set-up in the plastic, but I'd never trust the helmet to protect my brains again.  So, for a $5 big-box ANSI type I hard-hat, this is no big deal, but when you start wearing a $85-$150 ANSI type II hardhat, then protecting your investment (both your PPE and your brains) is a bit more of a concern.
KASK Super Plasma - ANSI type II protection

Myth:  Rock climbing helmets aren't OSHA compliant.  Any helmet that meets the ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2009 or 2014 standard is acceptable.  It may not look like Bubba's typical construction site hard-hat, but if it meets the standard and is labelled as such, then it's legal.

So, what can yo do to keep a cool head and be stylin' on truss?  Get one of those really protective and 'I'm a professional' looking ANSI type II helmets and wear it!  The two most popular climbing helmets are the Petzl Verex Best and the KASK Super Plasma.  Bright colors are recommended.  If you need to black it out for a show (common for truss follow spotlight operators), just have your costume department sew-up a black spandex cover for it.

Bottom line:  Unless your want your brains to become Zombie food, protect them.  No replacement parts are currently available.

There is no shame in protecting your brain!