ProSoundWeb Community

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?  (Read 1142 times)

Nils SK Erickson

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 142
    • Traveling Monkey Sound
Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« on: February 10, 2013, 09:52:03 am »

Hi all,

We recently had a surprise visit from our local fire dept who has cited a number of issues and I wonder if there might be a bit of wisdom out there

I (the TD) unfortunately was not called when they showed up, and so our admin staff and musical director walked with the inspection team. The inspectors are looking at a set design/build which moved every light fixture in the joint (about 30), and will be in place for only 3 months.

The citation actually and quite literally lists "electrical" as a complete description of what is wrong and what to fix with the electrics.

What was verbally relayed was that:
power cords must be grounded
anything plugged into the wall should go through a surge protector
and that "extension" cords are universally unacceptable for anything non-temporary


They wanted us to have conduit-ed outlets at every single device needing electricity.

In reality, all voltage is 120, branch circuits breakers are 20amps and the AC cables are u-ground nema 5-15p plugs plugged into 5-15r or 5-20r duplexes. With only 1 exception all the AC "extensions" are 12-3 SJOOW cable and that exception branches (to supply several LED RGB lights) from a molded 12-3 e-string with a breaker built in.

They also disliked all electrical connections that occurred behind or under fire retardant treated drapes.


I doubt that they were told some of the facts, and they certainly didn't look at the cable gauge/type of jackets. I have a rematch scheduled in the coming week and I'm looking for any good info or preparation I can do. I think they may have seen black XLR/DMX/Ethernet and thought they were used for typical AC.

If they get their way, I'll end up with a 6x6 grid of conduit on the walls and floor!

My current plan is to provide an onstage 208 y supply of 3 phase  5 wire cam lock feeding a distro such as the 12 circuit version here (http://www.dimmerrack.com/5d.html). But if a cable can't be used to extend that power, it won't be too useful.
Logged
Anything that makes a noise is satisfactory to a crowd.

~Charles Dickens

Tom Young

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 615
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2013, 01:09:16 pm »

You might be up against a brick wall. It'll certainly help for you to talk to them and come across as (at least) somewhat informed and coscientious.

If you were a legit theater space I am pretty sure these issues would not be issues. But a church is a space/operation where it may be common sense (to folks like inspectors) to err on the side of safety.

In my experience when designing sound systems for new concert halls there often is opposition (from both electrical engineers and contractors) to the concept and practice of the isolated-ground technical power system. One can usually make them see that these are perfectly safe, but not without a bit of a struggle. Sometimes larger power companies (serving larger minicipalities) have a "special branch" which deals with (among other oddities) audio power systems for performance spaces and they get it from the start.

All this to say that ultimately your inspector calls the shots and if he/she doesn't have an open mind and you cannot convince them that you need to do things a certain way *and* things are safe, there is no way around it.

.......other than a hit man or a generous bribe  ;-)
Logged
Tom Young
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
203-888-6217

Ivan Beaver

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3552
  • Atlanta GA
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2013, 04:20:34 pm »

You might be up against a brick wall. It'll certainly help for you to talk to them and come across as (at least) somewhat informed and coscientious.

If you were a legit theater space I am pretty sure these issues would not be issues. But a church is a space/operation where it may be common sense (to folks like inspectors) to err on the side of safety.

In my experience when designing sound systems for new concert halls there often is opposition (from both electrical engineers and contractors) to the concept and practice of the isolated-ground technical power system. One can usually make them see that these are perfectly safe, but not without a bit of a struggle. Sometimes larger power companies (serving larger minicipalities) have a "special branch" which deals with (among other oddities) audio power systems for performance spaces and they get it from the start.

All this to say that ultimately your inspector calls the shots and if he/she doesn't have an open mind and you cannot convince them that you need to do things a certain way *and* things are safe, there is no way around it.

.......other than a hit man or a generous bribe  ;-)
Tom is correct.

They CAN and WILL shut you down-if they want.  It doesn't matter what people on an internet forum say or think.

Depending on how "made up" their mind is-you may have no choice.

One hint-DO NOT come across as trying to make them look bad or stupid or ignorant.  They HAVE the authority to do as they wish.  And in many cases it is purely for spite and revenge-and has little to do with anything practical.

Another suggestion is to get the code book and MAKE SURE that what you are doing is correct.

But remember that the code is written in so "odd" ways-and is very up open for interpitation-mainly the inspectors.

Just be careful what you say and do.
Logged
A complex question is easily answered by a simple-easy to understand WRONG answer!

Ivan Beaver
Danley Sound Labs

PHYSICS- NOT FADS!

dick rees

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 5291
  • St Paul MN
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2013, 04:36:02 pm »

Nils....

I've had to deal with inspectors at festival sites, not in buildings, but inspectors are inspectors and they're just doing their job.  They are (or should be) professionals, so treat them as such.

Dis-associate yourself as much as possible with what happened before.  Ask them any questions you have as if the other day hadn't happened.  Don't make them recall the other experience and try to "fix it".  Start fresh and work with them.  They're not there to make your job any more difficult than it might be, but to get things done to a standard.  And there is a very good reason for the standards.

Given that, they will probably have a bit of leeway.....which they are more likely to extend to a polite, cooperative, informed and understanding person such as yourself.  Don't try to correct them on anything or teach them the manual.  You'll hang yourself that way.

If there is any question, ask them for clarification from the electrical inspector.  The fire department has one set of regs, but wiring should come under the heading  of electrical.  If you can get everyone to agree, see if you can get the electrical inspector in so all of you can get on the same page.

Good luck.

PS
I suspect some mis-communication in the information you got.  I doubt that they said "surge protectors".  Much more likely they said "GFCI's".......or meant GFCI's.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2013, 04:43:34 pm by dick rees »
Logged
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

Brad Weber

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2215
  • Marietta, GA
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2013, 07:58:20 am »

The inspectors are looking at a set design/build which moved every light fixture in the joint (about 30), and will be in place for only 3 months.
It is not unusual for anything that is in place more than 30 days or so to be considered permanent rather then temporary.

and that "extension" cords are universally unacceptable for anything non-temporary
Generally correct in terms of extension cords rather than permanently attached cordage.

I suspect some mis-communication in the information you got.
Since you mentioned that you were not present, this definitely could be a factor.

Maybe you could contact the AHJ and identify that you are responsible for the technical system but unfortunately were not present that day and if they they would be so kind would like to walk through it with them so that you have a clear understanding of the specific concerns.
Logged

Keith Broughton

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 516
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2013, 07:29:44 am »

Having worked with inspectors before, my suggestion is to indicate you would like to have everything in compliance and don't fight it.
Ask them to "help" you by being as specific as possible so you can correct any problems.
Some things may sound crazy but just go along with it.
If they see you have a cool head and just want to get it right, chances are they may not be too harsh.
If you want to argue, things can get most difficult!
Logged

Bob L. Wilson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 378
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2013, 09:56:32 am »

Hi all,

We recently had a surprise visit from our local fire dept who has cited a number of issues and I wonder if there might be a bit of wisdom out there

I (the TD) unfortunately was not called when they showed up, and so our admin staff and musical director walked with the inspection team. The inspectors are looking at a set design/build which moved every light fixture in the joint (about 30), and will be in place for only 3 months.

The citation actually and quite literally lists "electrical" as a complete description of what is wrong and what to fix with the electrics.

What was verbally relayed was that:
power cords must be grounded
anything plugged into the wall should go through a surge protector
and that "extension" cords are universally unacceptable for anything non-temporary


They wanted us to have conduit-ed outlets at every single device needing electricity.

In reality, all voltage is 120, branch circuits breakers are 20amps and the AC cables are u-ground nema 5-15p plugs plugged into 5-15r or 5-20r duplexes. With only 1 exception all the AC "extensions" are 12-3 SJOOW cable and that exception branches (to supply several LED RGB lights) from a molded 12-3 e-string with a breaker built in.

They also disliked all electrical connections that occurred behind or under fire retardant treated drapes.


I doubt that they were told some of the facts, and they certainly didn't look at the cable gauge/type of jackets. I have a rematch scheduled in the coming week and I'm looking for any good info or preparation I can do. I think they may have seen black XLR/DMX/Ethernet and thought they were used for typical AC.

If they get their way, I'll end up with a 6x6 grid of conduit on the walls and floor!

My current plan is to provide an onstage 208 y supply of 3 phase  5 wire cam lock feeding a distro such as the 12 circuit version here (http://www.dimmerrack.com/5d.html). But if a cable can't be used to extend that power, it won't be too useful.

The nuclear options are available, lawyers and/or the press but only represent a smart play in certain situations.

Can you absolutely document that similar physical plant situations exist in other buildings within the same jurisdiction and have been deemed by the same inspector as acceptable? If so any hack lawyer can secure an injunction from even an unfriendly judge on an equal protection argument. For a temporary three month situation an injunction is a win as you will have it torn down by the time it makes the docket for a hearing, so the case will just be dismissed.

The power of the press can encourage the authorities to embrace or at least acquiesce to unequal protection. I know of a HOW that had all kinds of issues when it was full of Lutherans over occupancy, fire exits, and electrical, so much so that the Lutherans eventually built a new building and moved. The building is now used by first generation immigrants from a failed east African country and miraculously after a few newspaper articles about how the city inspectors were hassling them and hindering their customs and observances the inspectors were instructed to "focus on other properties within the city".

I have to take things to the mattresses regularly as part of my professional life so I am not as apprehensive about doing so as most posters here are, but like Kenny says know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
Logged

Nils SK Erickson

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 142
    • Traveling Monkey Sound
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2013, 01:41:41 am »

Thanks for the ideas all,

While I of course want nothing that is less than safe, and within the specs of the cables used... the idea that I need to install conduit every time a electric scenic piece is used seems a bit over the top.

I wonder if there isn't something in the nature of "temporary." If temporary is 30 days, what constitutes a change? If I go through and refocus an inch to the right... everything is un-and-replugged - would this reset a legal clock?... perhaps I'm just being a smart ass.


And what is an "extension?" AC through a mic cable? 3 amps through a 16ga orange cord? 18A in 12ga SOOW? Most of these lights are powered via IEC cables.... the factory ones are 6 feet long and each protected by a fuse in the IEC socket. Molded IEC cables could easily be purchased up to 50 feet long. Instead of getting a true power distro for this space, we could have a contractor install a large number of 5-15 duplexes on each circuit already run to the stage area and make home runs for each lighting fixture, aviom, and wireless transmitter... feels more smart ass, but closer to the letter of the inspector's desires.
Logged
Anything that makes a noise is satisfactory to a crowd.

~Charles Dickens

Brad Weber

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2215
  • Marietta, GA
Re: Fire Dept Inspection - How do we play nice?
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2013, 06:21:31 am »

And what is an "extension?" AC through a mic cable? 3 amps through a 16ga orange cord? 18A in 12ga SOOW? Most of these lights are powered via IEC cables.... the factory ones are 6 feet long and each protected by a fuse in the IEC socket. Molded IEC cables could easily be purchased up to 50 feet long. Instead of getting a true power distro for this space, we could have a contractor install a large number of 5-15 duplexes on each circuit already run to the stage area and make home runs for each lighting fixture, aviom, and wireless transmitter... feels more smart ass, but closer to the letter of the inspector's desires.
Does it have a connector on each end rather than hardwired on at least one end?  If so then it is probably going to be considered an extension cord or cord set.  The voltage and current determine whether it is considered a Class 1, 2 or 3 circuit.

Not my expertise but my understanding is that there can be numerous factors with extension cords such as if they are attached to the building in any manner, are protected from damage, are deemed to be replacing permanent cabling and so on.  Even the determination of and duration related to temporary use can vary depending on the jurisdiction, the use and the AHJ's interpretation.  And it is the AHJ's interpretation that matters which is why you really need to try to get additional input on exactly what it is they see needed in order to be compliant.  Many times simply cooperating with the AHJ and displaying the intent to want to be compliant can go a long way, however questioning or challenging their interpretations can readily get you on their bad side.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
 


Page created in 0.12 seconds with 22 queries.