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TOPIC: Side curtain woes

Side curtain woes 22 Oct 2004 00:26 #28709

  • BurneyFalls
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I just bought new material for my side curtains through my theatrical supplier. The material came from Melfabco. A patron brought in two sets of scaffolding today and some ladders and we were scheduled to start replacing the curtains next Wednesday.

The Fire Chief came in this afternoon and wanted to check the fire rating tag on the material. I told him there wasn't one, that the certificate was in the mail and should be here tomorrow. He said a certificate is not good enough, it has to be attached to the fabric. He gave me a copy of the code section. I told him the company that made the curtains is like the biggest supplier of theater curtains in the U.S. That wasn't good enough for him. I found a link for fire rating of fabric by company on a state website, which listed some Melfabco fabric, and forwarded it to the Chief. I will still call Melfabco in the morning. I sure as heck don't want to send the material back and have to pay more shipping costs and wait another eight weeks for another delivery. We are ready to put them up.

Anyone have a similar problem or a resolution. Hopefully Melfabco will have the answer tomorrow.
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Re: Side curtain woes 22 Oct 2004 13:13 #28710

  • jimor
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Sad to say, if even the reply of the fabric maker is not enough to satisfy the Inspector, you may be out of luck, unless he agrees to have your existing fabric fireproofed by any of several such firms that do that work. Contact a theatre supply house in your area and ask them to recommend a contractor. It will not be cheap, and it CAN damage/alter your fabric (depending upon its type/color/contruction AND the particular fireproofing method they use). For this reason, you would want to submit a sample of the fabric to them first to return to you to note contrast with untreated fabric, before you even agree to a total workup.

It may help to ask the Inspector what the department's APPROVED method of fireproofing is, or that may be detailed in State standards, IF the locals ACCEPT state standards, which they often do not have to do legally. If you suspect the Inspector is looking for a 'greasing' or has something against you, you may have to go to a lawyer and you yourself carefully read all the ordinances that apply, though a lawyer familiar with real estate issues may be a lot more knowledgable, since he will know case law as well as statute law. Courts tend to side with inspectors on technical issues unless you are prepared to hire an expensive technical consultant to support your side. Even if the court should decide in your favor, often such decisions apply only to the present situation of the present owner, and if you want to sell to someone someday, or replace the drapery at a later date, you may have to go through it all over again, unless you can get the court to create a continuing variance in your behalf. Also, be aware of the RE-inspection standards of your jurisdiction, since come the next time for a mandated testing of the flameproof worthiness of the curtains, the inspectors may demand flame testing or replacement of the entire fabrics -- especially if they remember your winning a dispute with them years earlier. Best Wishes!

[This message has been edited by jimor (edited October 22, 2004).]
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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Re: Side curtain woes 23 Oct 2004 11:09 #28711

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I called Melfabco and they faxed me a certificate which I faxed to the Fire Chief. In California, the fire code says that there has to be a label or tag on the fabric which states that it meets the California standards. There is no such label or tag on my fabric. Apparently the certificate isn't good enough.

The Fire Chief then called Melfabco and talked to them directly. The Melfabco rep admitted that the fabric was supposed to have the label, but they apparently never do that. Their fabric is registered with the State of California Fire Marshall and the Chief is accepting that. So we are again set to go, unless the swath of fabric the Chief took to test, flames up for more than two seconds and then we are back to square one.

The Chief has nothing against me. I was the President of the Fire Board when we interviewed candidates and hired him, and I am still on the Board. We have a good relationship. I truly believe he was looking out for my best interests and doesn't want anything to happen to the theatre. It was just stressful for me to be so close to getting this major project going and to run into what could have been a major snag.
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Re: Side curtain woes 31 Oct 2004 00:24 #28712

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The curtains are up and look beautiful. I had ten patrons show up on Day 1, six on Day 2, four on Day 3 when the final piece of material went up, and three on Day 4 when we finished the trim and brushed the last petrified spitwad off the ceiling.
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Re: Side curtain woes 04 Nov 2004 11:56 #28713

  • take2
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A lot hassle but at least you know he was doing his job. With that in mind you should feel a certain amount comfort for your thatre as well as the community.
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Re: Side curtain woes 04 Nov 2004 12:32 #28714

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I am just curious. What "sparked" the fire chief's interest in your curtains in the first place? Replacing curtains is not something that you would normally need a building permit for - nor would there normally be anything to trigger an inspection or other municpal involvement. Why go looking for trouble.

Just remember the old joke about the three most often told lies in America: (i) The check is in the mail; (ii) I promise I'll respect you in the morning and (iii) I'm from the govenment and I am here to help.

[This message has been edited by muviebuf (edited November 04, 2004).]
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Re: Side curtain woes 04 Nov 2004 19:23 #28715

  • Avco
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Well in most cities Fire departments and city building inspectors do inspections of public buildings like theatres, night clubs and other public meeting places. It's just like the Health department coming around and checking your food handling every year. They check to see if you are in code. They look for fully serviced fire extinguishers, electrical problems, just to name a few. One of the reasons they check curtains and side wall materials is because if they are not treated. Then if they catch fire, it can spread really fast and take lives. Some owners of buildings try to go the cheap route with some of the materials. Look at that night club alittle over a year ago, that caught fire at a concert. The material was not an approved material and caught fire after the band used their fireworks. It was a bad move to let them use it. That sound proofing material looks like the expensive one but its not. Thats why the tag is very important tobe included on the material/curtain.
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Re: Side curtain woes 05 Nov 2004 00:00 #28716

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It's a small town. I'd been begging for help with the project. He heard about it and came in to check on the fabric. Everything is fine now. He has a copy of the state certificate in the Theatre file at the fire station.
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