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TOPIC: handicap accessible booth

handicap accessible booth 17 Mar 2004 12:50 #7757

  • Blue sky
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The fire marshall has just informed me that we must make our projection booth handicapped accessible by installing some sort of lift or elevator. Since this is a costly and almost impossible task, he told me to ask other theatre owners if they have lifts or elevators and if not, how have you gotten "around" that issue? This seems like a certain organization is really splitting hairs on codes. Any help or info would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: handicap accessible booth 17 Mar 2004 13:48 #7758

  • muviebuf
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When I was building a multiplex back in 1998 I ran into an inspector who wanted the booth to be ADA compliant. Truth was the fellow had no idea what a projectionist truly did. We filmed a short home video of a projectionist carrying the 50lb film cans, making up a show, threading the projector, focusing the show etc. We were able to get them to waive the requirements.
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Re: handicap accessible booth 17 Mar 2004 15:36 #7759

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I was working at UA in the '90s when they went through the same thing. They did esentually the same thing but with a still camera. They brought in a wheelchair and then showed trying to thread a platter and carry a film can and such. You have to challenge it.
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Re: handicap accessible booth 17 Mar 2004 18:27 #7760

  • Ken Layton
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I agree that it should be challenged. Show them a 3 or 4 screen interlock setup and trying to thread 200 feet of leader thru all the projectors without having the film touch the floor!
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Re: handicap accessible booth 17 Mar 2004 18:55 #7761

  • Mike
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Sering as Mayor in my little city: I am ashamed of the stupid government shmoes that come up with this pap.

I had a fire marshall who made me put a tin box over a unused glass door's knob that was 4' from 2 sets of double door exits with crash bars. I could see someone in a fire jiggling that door knob. Right!

Goiod luck!

Michael Hurley
Impresario
Michael Hurley
Impresario
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Re: handicap accessible booth 18 Mar 2004 14:25 #7762

  • Avalon
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When I built my fist theatre in ’97, handicapped accessibility to the booth wasn’t an issue because I was converting an old building (truck garage) to a cinema and there was no place for a lift or ramp. So, in a fit of bureaucratic good sense, they decided it wasn’t worth scrapping the whole project to not offend any ADA regulations. Today, I’m trying to build a four-plex and this time the specter of regulatory idiocy isn’t as easy to exorcise. The city just insisted the 12-plex being built a few miles away from me put in an elevator to the booth, so why shouldn’t I? A couple options for me are to take one whole auditorium and convert it into a ramp (60 feet with a couple switchbacks), or install a lift. Now, as anyone who builds a theatre knows, you must have a proper square footage to seating ratio to have the property generate enough income to cover lease and construction costs. In my case, to lose an auditorium means the project isn’t viable. Lifts are expensive (that ratio thing again) and create red flags with insurance companies.
Pardon while I ramble here: There is a part of me that doesn’t want to do anything to make the booth at all handicapped accessible. As politically incorrect as this may be, making a booth accessible perpetuates the myth that a person handicapped to the degree that they need a lift to get to the booth can run a booth given access. This just isn’t true. Those of us who carry the 50 pound cans, thread interlocks, move clamped prints form one booth to another know the reality of what it takes to run a booth. It’s hard enough dealing with the able bodied workers who can’t do the job properly. How fast can a wheelchair get from the snack bar to the booth if there is a brain wrap and the auto shut-off fails? How many feet of film will be shredded before shut down? Oh, so now I have to hire someone to run the snack bar AND the booth on Tuesday nights when we usually have only a handful of people. I took out less than $20k for myself last year. How the hell am I supposed to pay for another employee – let alone the cost of giving a hypothetical handicapped employee access?
If you come to me, person to person, and tell me you have 20 years experience as a projectionist, became a paraplegic in a car accident, have the upper body strength of Arnuld, and I’ll work with you. I’ll see how far I can go to make the job accessible. There can be a construction middle ground: when building your booth, frame in a place for a lift so if God’s Gift to Projection wheels up, you can work with him/her. Make sure there are no design flaws that absolutely eliminate access. It is a given that public places need access. But the accessibility of my booth, this is MY booth, should be left to a person by person evaluation. And evaluation by peers in the biz should weight very heavily in the decision.
So, to get back to the question, I would try asking if they would allow you to frame in a place for a lift so if this hypothetical worker appears, you can accommodate. Also, have a professional design firm handle the negotiations on this. They have a relationship with the planning commissions and know chapter a verse. More importantly, they can cite examples of situations where they got the leniency you are seeking. They are not cheap, and need to be managed, but well worth it. I hope all of us dealing with this keep their progress posted here.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: handicap accessible booth 19 Mar 2004 11:18 #7763

  • Blue sky
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Thanks for the detailed reply Avalon. My theatre was built in the 1970's so there is virtually no way I can cost effectively do what the building inspector is asking. I am hoping that when my architect comes through the site to show where all the exits and fire extinquishers have to go, that he'll be able to sign off on this issue for me and that will be good enough for the township building inspector. By the way, I have the fire marshall on my side with this one, but the township building inspector is a REAL stickler on going by the book.
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Re: handicap accessible booth 20 Mar 2004 11:03 #7764

  • Looney
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I thought the ADA was a set of guidelines, not law?

I know of an apartment building that was built 2 year ago that put in a lift, the type they used cost around $7,500. Much less than I would of thought.
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Re: handicap accessible booth 20 Mar 2004 16:15 #7765

  • RoxyVaudeville
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The ADA is NOT a set of guidelines. It is the LAW of the land as passed by congress.

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Re: handicap accessible booth 21 Mar 2004 13:11 #7766

  • Big Guy
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And according to that law, can't you argue that the cost of compliance is so severe that it is not feasible to upgrade? I thought if you could prove that the cost was excessive (and far out weighed the benefits) that you could get exceptions on a case by case basis? Is this true?
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Re: handicap accessible booth 21 Mar 2004 23:14 #7767

  • Ken Layton
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Yes, I thought you could argue that it would be a 'hardship' to your business. I think that if your building is on the historic register many of the rules are relaxed or suspended.
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