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Thread: Smoke and smoke detectors in public buildings.

  1. #1
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    Default Smoke and smoke detectors in public buildings.

    When using smoke or haze at home I've given up switching off the smoke detector as it never seemed to go off! I was wondering what findings anyone else had in buildings with regards to tripping the fire detection system. I'm aware there is different types of detector?

    The reason I ask is we are being asked to do a display in a rather promenant building but they can't turn off the fire system, whilst I'm not wishing to go against their wishes or empty the building, I did wonder how effect smoke affects certain detectors?

    Thoughts?

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    I too am interested as I am planning on a few shows in apartment complexes (nothing major) and of course what is a laser without some quality fog?
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    I'd ask the building manager if there is a plan of the building that features the location of all the fire system detectors. If they have one it should indicate at each location what type of detector's are installed. Heat detectors on the plan should be marked HD and smoke detectors marked SD. Heat detectors are not generally affected by fog or haze.
    I got this info from a plan of a building I use to work in with the plan stuck on the wall next to the fire system panel. There's no guaranty your building will have such a plan but could be worth asking.
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    Can they turn off zones in the building? You can usually legitimately turn off smoke detectors if you manage the risk by other means (e.g. having people in the room keeping an eye out for smoke/flames) Its all about risk assessment and risk management. Many music venues turn off zones for performance nights.

    There are 2 types of smoke detector usually, ionizing and photoelectric. The ionizing ones used to be fitted over here beofre the smoking ban. They were genrally quite resistant to fog/haze and ciggy smoke. Since the ban on smoking, lots of places now fit the photoelectric ones because they're cheaper, but they're less resistant to fog/haze.

    Using a good, light, even haze is always preferable to big thick plumes from a fogger in this scenario.
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    Based on what Norty said above, we must have the ionizing ones even though this building turns six years old next week. There have been occasions where the fog has gotten stupid thick by accident and I've never had an issue. I rarely use fog machines anymore though - I just use oil based haze. I do use my Chauvet Geysers though once in awhile but, they really put out minimal fog and just for second or two.

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    Something I've found effective at home, but maybe more suited to home use, although I'll put this out there anyway as it maybe of use if you can't turn them off, is to get a zip lock plastic bag, put it over the detector right to the ceiling, and then zip lock it shut. You don't get a perfect seal but so far I've not triggered one of mine with this method and its quick and easy to remove. Only issue I could see in a commercial venue would be air currents dislodging it. Maybe some twisted garden wire wire or some tape and an ordinary bag would do the trick there so long as easily removable. However at home, medium zip lock bags around the same diameter as the detector work fine in my experience.

  7. #7
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    Shower caps have be mentioned before - easy to collect if you travel a fair amount. I have AC powered smoke detectors at home. I've thought about using a tupperware lid mounted behind the SD, allowing a container to be snapped on/off as needed.

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    We do weilding & grinding at work around these things. We have a proprietary cover for them. They are orange and designed to fit the detector. Rubber gloves also work most of the time.
    If your doing a paid job I think the orange cover would be a better option. You can easily see that they have been fitted when the lights get turned on.

  9. #9
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    If they can't turn off their fire alarm system, you definitely can't run fog, and likely can't run haze without tripping it. In my experiences, the fire detection systems in large hotels, event centers and convention centers have some rather sophisticated visual particle detectors that are quite sensitive. The systems are also very often tied directly to the local Fire Department.

    If your building is on fire, they'll put it out for free, but if they show up and it's not on fire, you pay a hefty fine for the false alarm. As the owner of the fog machine, I fortunately have never had to pay that fine, but it's not who you want to be, believe me.

    One example: A few years back I was working a wedding anniversary where the hotel's alarm system was in "test" mode. I had turned on the hazer but forgot to turn it off prior to a bathroom break. So the alarms went off and the hotel was starting to evacuate the top floor because some employee didn't know how to read the panel. They figured it out and got the alarm to stop, and we opened our windows. FD didn't show up however, because test mode meant in this case "fully functional, except FD call not made". Whew. So it disrupted the event, and the operation of the hotel for a bit, but nobody got fined. This time.

    Recently, I did hear of one venue in my city where, with enough advance notice, an on-site fire marshall can be hired from the city for the duration of the event, such that the alarm system can be disabled, for a fee ($100, if I recall). I don't know this first-hand, but the source is credible.

    So give yourself plenty of time to thoroughly research the building, it's smoke detection method, and all possible options to run some haze, keeping safety first (of course). And don't be that guy. I refuse to ever be him again.
    Last edited by Infinity6; 05-08-2014 at 10:13. Reason: spelling/grammar

  10. #10
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    Cheers guys, I have done a lot of construction work where we have covered the detector with various methods, the rubber latex glove and the orange cover but we had to go down the proper route this time.

    The fire department apparently charge $10 000 for a false alarm! There is no way we wanted to be responsible for setting it off in this building. Luckily we had a meeting and the guys asked security who changed their mind and agreed to isolate the zone we are to work in, the key I think was asking if we could use a light haze and not mentioning smoke, maybe that word alone conjures up images of a dense smoke that would also cause issues for any evacuation and added confusion if any emergency did occur.

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