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PeleBRONZE Member
the henna lady
6,193 posts
Location: WNY, USA

I am going to be breaking in a couple of new safeties soon and had a conversation last night with another fire performer about safeties who aren't on the ball. When we talk safeties we have always said that they need to be alert and on the ball, but that really doesn't cover much, does it?So...actually safety practices aside, what do you require of your safeties? What qualities do you try to display when you are safety for someone else? I would really love to hear your responses, and yes I realise it is very different for backyard spinning from professional, which is where my point of view comes from.For me it goes well beyond just holding a damp towel. All of my safeties, myself included, have red cross training to the CPR level, if not higher. I expect my safeties to know wrap, drop and roll without being clumsy about it. I have only had to do this once in my experience as a safety (I wasn't even the one on fire) and it was the longest 2 seconds of my life!!!!I think they need to know the safety protocal as well as I do, and I wrote it!We all also know "non-aggressive" crowd control, and have had to implement it. We have never had an issue with someone being a dick about this, knock on wood.My safeties also know about my toys and how to put them out. It isn't something you really think alot about but if the tools aren't put out correctly it can be dangerous when lifting the cloth from them or whatever.I think they should know what I am playing with to better know how to handle them in and emergency.Beyond this there are also other things....I have this pet peeve about safeties rushing me. I like to be alerted that they are coming at me. I ask my safeties to tell me I am on fire and where. If I can't take care of it I say help, they are on it. We don't loose our cool and this way my safeties won't get hit with a flaming toy as I unsuspectingly keep spinning. We've had to implement this twice, when Prom's butt caught on fire and once when the frays on my cut-off shorts singed, we got it and kept performing, it worked well.On the flip side of that coin I also want a safety who is on the ball enough to know if I am in trouble. I have seen safeties yell to a performer "Your chest is on fire", but not do anything, and it was obviously out of the performers control (this was the drop and roll from earlier). To me there is a fine line between over and under cautious where 'just right' remains.I think safeties need to be alert enough to not only watch the performer but possible issues with the environment, audience and such. I think as a performer that it is important to every once in awhile make good eye contact with your safety during a set to make sure everything is going smoothly.For Ren Faire my safety has to have a theatrical presence. It is broad daylight, there is no hiding. My safety needs to be able to play with me and the audience so as to create the full suspension of disbelief for a show.I think that safeties should be good with people, with answering questions and thwarting problematic people. Whipping Boy is great at this. Sometimes people are intimidated by the performer and head for the less imposing safety to ask questions of and such. A positive but authoritative personality is great here. Lastly I am good friends with all my safeties. I wouldn't have it any other way. My life and the well being of my beloved audience is in their hands, I need to know I can trust them and not hope I can. My worst spins have always been when I didn't fully trust the safety, it is such a distraction.There are my requirements of my safeties and of myself when I am a safety. Aren't you glad you don't work with me???
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(you can't answer that Whipping Boy!
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)Anyway, I am interested to hear what everyone else has to say, especially knowing I am one of the most neurotic on here when it comes to safety.
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Regards------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...

Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

NYC_not_PKOne Tyred Guy
203 posts
Location: Camaiore, Lu, Italy

Right on... again a topic I wanted to hit. I think that there is a HUGE difference between doing safety for those who are performing and those who are just spinning socially. If you're performing I COMPLETELY understand the "show must go on" mentality but if it's just a bunch of friends I'd much rather error in the way of caution.As a safety guy I find it really frustrating/scary to be getting into those little arguments with those people who are spinning and run into trouble. "Dude, put down the poi""Na, I'm good, I'm good""Dude, just put them down and we'll get them untangled.""Na, I got it, I got it...ouch, damn, ow.."You get the idea.Can I suggest that if you run into trouble while spinning socially the FIRST thing you do is STOP SPINNING AND PUT DOWN THE POI!I'm all for asking for help too... Though I find that spinnners tend to have an ego about admitting that they need help. You've only got a few seconds if you're in real trouble and any discussion will eat into that time quickly.Pele, I think you're one of the few exceptions here that would have cause to hesitate before pushing the eject button. Most people on the site seem to be social spinners from a wide range of experience levels. I've seen far too many people try to untangle behind the back butterfly knots when all they really need to do is drop the damn fire.

PK is a god.. i love the Peeekster.

.:PK:. [poiinthepark founder member]

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing smileSTAY SAFE! hug

397 posts
Location: Brunswick, Ohio

Woah pele that's deep! I've never really thought much about safteys before. I always figured handing some random passerby the towel was more then enough for the social spinning. Since I've started working with the staff i've been thinking alittle more about training someone to do it right. How do you control the crowd? I haven't had a chance to open a gap yet. What are the steps in opening one?

We are all in the cosmic movie. That means the day you die you watch your whole life repeating for eternity. So you'd better have some good things happen in there and have a fitting climax. --Jim MorrisonIt's going to come from a direction you didn't predict at a moment of chaos which you didn't see coming. -- NYC

442 posts
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

Crowd control isn't as hard as I thought it would be. The closest issue I've had was with a couple of kids on bicycles. I waved them backwards and pointed to Pele and they moved without complaining.For starters we had a defined area where the performer would be. It was 10x10 (but 15x15 would've been better.) The audience kept a good 5 feet from that edge. So it was almost a 20x20 area. The above mentioned kids rode up right to the edge and that made me nervous so I waved them back. Being polite and "please step back" works well. Smile too, people respond well to that.As for after performance duties. I did have to field questions. I was amazed how many were afraid or too shy to talk to her. "Magic fuel or special fuel is used for blowing." "A year of practice doing this." and the big one "No, we don't give lessons."As a safety I also had to tell the performer the crowd reactions. There wasn't any clapping during our show, so Pele didn't think she was doing well. But the crowd was awestruck and couldn't move.I do want to work on a few things though. During her routine, Pele handed me a lit torch as she got another tool. I had to hold it while all eyes were on me. Since I don't dance or anything I just sort of stood there. I'm going to try to maybe pretend or something to keep the interest going.(Should I help with the safety FAQ?) ------------------"Except for that Mrs. Lincoln, How did you like the play?"Pyromorph - Let the fire change you

FYI: I am not Pele. If you wish to reply to me and use a short version of my name, use: PWB.

English? Who needs that? I'm never going to England. - Homer Jay Simpson

Rick aka LokiBRONZE Member
134 posts
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

As a personal rule, I never spin without a safety. While some people I've spun with enjoy private dances, and while it would be wonderful in a lot of ways, we haven't known each other for long enough, I guess, the fire and me, to dance on our own.My spotter's safety steps with regard to me are these: Tell me if my back or hair are on fire (or my front, if I somehow don't notice). If I can't put it out right away, bring the smothering towel or blanket and do it for me. If it can't be smothered right away, use rolling or, if the cost of steam burns no longer outweighs the benefits of being put out, use the water bottle.For me, they must know how to carry out the steps in this algorithm in order, and guard and deal with my equipment.And do it as sober as I am, if it's at all possible. I don't fully trust anyone to be on the ball if they're not fully alert to begin with.Luckily, the most I've had to deal with so far is my pants lighting up in the front, (and the thwacks! mother of mercury my singed hide!) which I was able to deal with.Crowd control usually requires more effort on the spotter's part. They have to understand nonphysical diplomacy, but be willing to become a physical barrier if the person is drunk or crazy or stupid or aggressive (these do happen, so the spotter needs to be someone I can trust to deal with these extreme and unpredictable cases).Here's an interesting tidbit: I was hired to spin at a rave a few weeks ago (my first hired gig! yay!) and used green flames for a couple of burns. WHEW! A combination of drugs and the presence of glowsticks seriously increased the spotter's physical interference responsibilities. The dear little dreamers didn't seem to be able to distinguish between a glowstick and the moderate green flames I had going. The spotter was constantly keeping people from walking too near.Also, my spotters are required to sign a statement saying they'd take a bullet for me. I'm a semi-dangerous, sort-of wanted guy, and I never know who might be after a piece of the action next.My most frequent spotter is Brooke, my partner. She's had first aid training, though I think it's expired. She spins a little herself, so she knows fuel and equipment. Anyone who spots for me hasn't been required to have official first aid, but is shown how to smother a flame, told about steam burns, and has to be confident and reliable. I keep a fire-related safety kit with my equipment, which includes the smothering towel or blanket, a standard first aid kit, water, and aloe vera gel (plants are our friends). The spotter knows where this is and, in the case of Brooke, definitely knows how to use all of it.Pele, I'd say you know your own biz well enough to lay down safety criteria. This is a good topic to build a string around every once in a while, though.Peace, Love, and Safety.
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-Rick[This message has been edited by Rick (edited 20 July 2001).][This message has been edited by Rick (edited 20 July 2001).]

-Rick aka Loki
oh, man, a signature?... uuh... this is like coming across wet cement... uuh, shoot, I had something clever I was saving... I hope I don't run out of sp

397 posts
Location: Brunswick, Ohio

had to look to hard for this wanted to bump it back up.

We are all in the cosmic movie. That means the day you die you watch your whole life repeating for eternity. So you'd better have some good things happen in there and have a fitting climax. --Jim MorrisonIt's going to come from a direction you didn't predict at a moment of chaos which you didn't see coming. -- NYC

383 posts
Location: Brisbane, Qld, Australia

ahhh..sanity. I do not spin without a spotter either. Especially in performance work. (Carrying on with the performance is soo much easier if you have someone there to help you out if you're in troubles)..I also have first aid training including CPR. (Although it has not come to that yet! *touch wood*)I saw some girls with fuel in paper cups. They had no safety at all. They had actually been taught by some locals around Brisbane (I don't name names however) and obviously not taught well at all. When I mean not taught well - that is, they had not grasped the concept of fire safety at all and were a real danger to themselves and others.I don't care how long you have been spinning fire (two days, 12 years), it's fire and its unpredictable.As a matter of fact - I don't know anyone from these parts (granted I have not met them all) that uses fire-blankets and extinguishers unless its an official performance somewhere and it 'looks good'. What the hell is with this I wonder. It's a rather scary thought. When we hold the occasional workshop, it includes fire safety before anything else. 10 points to those who actually use safeties all the time. And mrmo_nyc... I hear you from your 'twirler's ego' perspective.

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.- B.B.King

flash fireBRONZE Member
Sporadically Prodigal
2,758 posts
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

bumparooni *just because*[This message has been edited by flash fire (edited 17 August 2001).]

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