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O Palco Pegou Fogo.10 Minutos antes do Show.#ÁudioMixBrasil

Posted by Áudio Mix Brasil on Thursday, February 4, 2016

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Little is currently known of the circumstances surrounding the attached video, which originated in Brazil and was posted online earlier this month. While it appears that the quick actions of the production crew averted a larger disaster, this incident provides an opportunity to address the importance of knowing how to respond to fire-related emergencies. Much like in the first hours of a natural disaster, those proximal to the event will be the ones who will make the most difference in the outcome.

Do you and your crew know what to do should a fire suddenly erupt on stage during load-in, setup, or load-out?

Fire experts tell us that in many cases the best course of action may be to evacuate rather than try to extinguish a fire yourself. What at a glance may appear to be a “manageable” fire can quickly grow too large to handle without expert assistance and proper equipment. So, the default action should be to evacuate when an unfriendly fire ignites. However, there are some circumstances when fighting a fire may be done safely.

As a rule, if a fire is larger than you, do not attempt to fight it. Get out, take as many others with you as you can, prevent others from re-entering the area, and call 9-1-1 (or confirm it was called). For crew members, continual awareness of your surroundings (situational awareness) and always knowing where your two closest escape routes are will be key to your survival. If the fire is smaller than you, raise the alarm by alerting others to evacuate the area while you locate the closest appropriate fire extinguisher and properly apply it to the fire. If you are having no appreciable effect, exit immediately and help others do the same.

If you decide to attempt to extinguish a fire, consider the following:

  • Know the location of each fire extinguisher in your workspace and have been properly trained in its use. Likewise, ensure that the extinguisher is appropriate for the type of fire you are fighting (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/portable_about.html). Fighting a fire with the wrong extinguishing agent can actually increase the size of the fire.
  • It is best to have a partner when fighting a fire. While one of you is operating the extinguisher, the other can remain focused on the “big picture” and stay in a position to determine if your efforts are diminishing the size of the fire. If the fire is not immediately getting smaller or you doubt whether you are having a significant effect, leave.
  • While fighting a small fire, always do so from a position between the fire and an accessible exit. Keep your back to the exit in case you must leave quickly. If in doubt, get out. If anything concerns you about your safety, exit immediately and help others do the same. Let properly equipped fire fighters extinguish the fire.
  • Do not attempt to move burning materials, especially towards occupied areas (such as the audience). While separating materials may seem like an effective way to prevent a fire from increasing in size, you risk injury and spreading the fire.
  • ALWAYS remove power (shut off electric) BEFORE fighting a fire involving electrical equipment. Electricity can be far more hazardous to those fighting the fire than the fire itself. If you are unable to remove power to electrical equipment, you should not attempt to extinguish the fire yourself. Wait until the equipment is de-energized to fight the fire.
  • The smoke from burning synthetic textiles (e.g., curtains, clothing, etc.)–and many other synthetic materials such as props, instruments, and furniture–can be highly toxic. (http://fashionbi.com/newspaper/the-health-risks-of-toxic-fibers-and-fabrics). Similarly, the extinguishing agent (powder) from dry chemical and dry powder extinguishers can produce a type of “smoke” that can be irritating and cause respiratory problems for those exposed to it. All people should be evacuated from any smoke-filled area, whether the smoke is from the fire or the fire extinguisher.
  • Assign someone to meet emergency responders at the street (or wherever they will arrive) and show them exactly how to access the fire area. Also, have someone available to them who knows the electrical system well. These two actions can take minutes off of how long it takes to extinguish a fire and are wildly helpful to emergency responders.

The best means of protecting against fire threats is through prevention. However, knowing what to do in the event a fire can make the difference between an inconvenience and a catastrophe. For more information on fire safety, please refer to Chapter 4 of The Event Safety Guide.

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