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Jessemember
118 posts
Location: Pittsburgh, PA/ USA


Posted:
Wanting to get more into fire performance in my city, I have been doing research to make sure I have all my responsibilities taken care of first: I have been looking into performer's insurance, and checking with the city's fire bureau to find out what permits/licences/other requirements I need to meet to be a "reputable performer" in this town. But the response that I got back from the city's fire department was extremely distressing for several reasons... 1. I realized that all the national acts coming through that I have watched and admired were breaking the law.2. I completely understand (and agree?) with them on a practical level for doing so.3. The local requirements for fire performance make it virtually impossible to "make it" as a fire performer in this town. The following is a transcript of the response I got from the city officials:There are no license or permits to have open flames.The requirements arethat you get approval from the fire dept.and that a fire inspector ispresent.The cost of an inspector is $28.00 per hour with a minimum of 3hours. In any assembly occupancy the fire code does not permit the use of openflames,if they want an act that has open flames then a fire inspector mustbe on site during the act.The definition of an open flame is any flame thatis not enclosed,ovens pilot lights on furnaces etc. would not be open flames.I think that this (law?) is not only impractical to all concerned, but also unfair, as it essential bars any legal performances due to reasons of cost. I would very much like to have this changed so that instead of finding it cheaper to break the law and pay the fines when they are finally caught, performers around here would find it safer and more practical to obey the law. But I've never really been an activist, nor have I even been known to be particularly outspoken up until rescently. Does anyone have any advice to offer me in how to approach these bureaucrats in an unthreatening manner that will still be assertive enough to make them LISTEN? I'm sure one of you professionals out there has had to deal with something like this in the past... How hard is it (generally) to get something like this changed? Is this based on the ruling of one person, or is this a committee thing? I have never been one to take much interest in city government or officials and find myself at a complete loss here...Jesse

Posted:
I haven't had to do this myself, but here's a "plan of attack" to consider. If as the saying goes "all politics is local", go directly to the fire marshall. Find one who's sympathetic (if possible) and explain your plight. Show him or her documentation of acts, tools, and safety procedures. Offer a demo of your performance. The more you can assure them that you're professional, the better you'll do. It may take some time. You may have to pay for the inspector for your shows to start. I know some kids that eventually got a permit for the year from their city, but only because the fire marshall knew and trusted them. There is hope. Diana

Simosenthusiast
382 posts
Location: London, UK


Posted:
hey Jesse - in addition if the above fails, you could always go to someone in the local council who is worried about votes ot something, i don't know what you have in the States but generally a politician who has a say can make a difference (how are the State laws passed? who proposes changes? go to them if they are accessible)...emmm the other way to go is obviously the media in my opinion - it's amazing how much power they have!the bad thing about this is people get generally nervous when it comes to fire, they'd rather have strict laws and close their eyes to the occasional fire-dancers (do they do that or do they check and fine you?)...a change of law should make a special provision for professional fire dancers if it is to work i think; maybe if you suggest that they introduce a special license for fire performers: that might be hard to obtain i.e. you must provide them with details of your insurance and safety measures and where you perform etc etc before they give it you so that not every random person can obtain one...this is just my opinion but to me this seems a lot easier than trying to change the law, especially the part about the open flames which was clearly designed for safety reasons in the first place and in my opinion is very hard to change - an amendment referring to a licence for professional fire performers on the other hand seems easier to achieve...good luck and i hope you manage to make the change you want smile Jesse,Simos

nomadBRONZE Member
retired
356 posts
Location: Paris, France


Posted:
Funny you'd post this now Jesse. I went to a fire station yesterday to ask about legal issues regarding open flames in Boston. After speaking with 2 different firemen who probably thought i was some kind of weirdo ("Why would you want to dance with fire? Is it because of your culture?"...), the captain told me to take my best guesses as to where to practise outside. Basically, he said that if i spin in an open field or something similar, i wouldn't risk much, maybe get the cops' attention and they would probably just tell me to put it off. I am just concerned about Boston cops being a little more assholish and fining or arresting me!

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


Posted:
Nomad, unless your city has a law against open flames,or the place you choose to spin does, the only thing the cops can legally do is ask you to put them out (this, I know, does not prevent assholeitis). If the fire department sanctions it for outdoor use, then there is nothing the police can do.I learned this from my lawyer and my local fire department. Find out what the open flame ordinances are in your area.------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...

Pele
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


_Stix_Pooh-Bah
2,419 posts
Location: la-la land


Posted:
HIDoes anyone know if the same is for the UK?I live in a block of flats and have the bottom flat and practise in the communal garden (or yard depending on what side of the pond you are from..) No one has complained (yet) but I do want to know if I'm being naughty or not..and to get my facts straight in case the crazy woman from upstairs tries to sue me for anything.. (For safty I always have a fire blanket or powder extinguisher to hand)Any one in the UK had problems?

I honour you as an aspect of myself..

You are never to old to storm a bouncey castle..


_Stix_Pooh-Bah
2,419 posts
Location: la-la land


Posted:
HIDoes anyone know if the same is for the UK?I live in a block of flats and have the bottom flat and practise in the communal garden (or yard depending on what side of the pond you are from..) No one has complained (yet) but I do want to know if I'm being naughty or not..and to get my facts straight in case the crazy woman from upstairs tries to sue me for anything.. (For safty I always have a fire blanket or powder extinguisher to hand)Any one in the UK had problems?

I honour you as an aspect of myself..

You are never to old to storm a bouncey castle..


robingreenshoesmember
32 posts
Location: Surrey, London


Posted:
Jesse, does that mean using a lighter/match to light your cigarette is illegal? I think it's your civil duty to go around town peforming a citezens arrest on all who smoke to highlight what a over-protective law it is.Rob

DomBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,009 posts
Location: Bristol, UK


Posted:
Jesse - Is this indoors? Any fire act indoors is going to have a hard time. Everywhere has strict fire laws. However the US seems to be really bad in places, even in the open air.robingreenshoes beat me to it by minutes, but the response you got basically says that if any performer gets on stage and even lights a cigarette onstage with a lighter, they need to pay for a fire marshall to be present.RedDragon - The UK isn't as bad. If your on open ground then the owner has to object. E.g. you can't spin fire on the Queen's property like London parks, but you can spin on London commons, club car parks, etc... and as long as nobody complains I think you're OK. Contrary to popular belief I don't think the police are as officious and dictatorial as some people make out
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protozoaBRONZE Member
member
148 posts
Location: Baltimore, MD USA


Posted:
Jesse:We have much the same problem here in B-more, and we're trying to find some way around this. So far we have this plan, (although we haven't implemented it all yet):1. Get insurance. This part is actually pretty easy.2. Practice and perform only on private property where we have express permission of the owner (him/her being there helps, just in case a possible "trespassing" issue comes up. Cops will always fall back on trespassing if they can't rely on any other reason to be jerks.3. In the absence of an actual formalized license or permission from the municipality to do what you're doing, get letters of recommendation. We've already worked once for the city of baltimore's promotion agency (spinning in the new year's parade) and we've made friends with the city's former fire commissioner. We hope to get recommendations from them in writing, so we can carry them around.That's what we've got so far. To everybody: please tread lightly and don't do anything stupid. One bad injury that gets into the newspaper could ruin everything for the rest of us around the world.Best,-protie

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


Posted:
I just wanted to point out that Red Dragon revived this topic and that it is a year old. Your info is very helpful to many still so please continue posting it, however some of the people you are addressing directly *might* not still be on here (ie: Jesse).Well said Protie, and to that I would like to add that if the owner of the practice property can not be present, you can always get a statement written by him/her and authorized by a notary republic which makes it completely legal and all you have to do is carry that along with your insurance paper with you.Thanks!------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...https://www.pyromorph.com[This message has been edited by Pele (edited 19 February 2002).]

Pele
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


DomBRONZE Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
3,009 posts
Location: Bristol, UK


Posted:
Oh yes, it's Feb 2002 now isn't it
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At least I wasn't the only one!Not used to old thread being revived, I know it's a great idea, just confuses me when it happens
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firestormmember
28 posts
Location: Redding, CA, USA


Posted:
Fire permits are an interesting problem. More often then not, you will get away with just doing your perofance and not telling the fire marshal. But once you go through the steps of obtaining a permit, then the firemarshal knows that you know better than to just do a performance without permission. Consequently, if you get caught performing without a permit you can't plead ignorance.I usually leave it up to the event promotor to make sure that your performance is OK with the venu owners and local officials. Make it part of the contract so if you do get stopped or prevented from performing- you still get paid. If the promoter fails to take all the nessisary steps then its their fault not yours. The owners and managagers of a venue are ultimately responsible for anything that happenes on their propery. Technically, your working for them. If the police hassle you just pass the buck just give them the name of the promoter. Chances are the promoter is more experienced and better at handling such situations anyway, if not they will learn.If you book shows on a regular basis, you should consider hiring a booking rep. True, they get a cut of the deal, but their job is to take care of all the legal crap, payments, contracts, travel etc. so all you have to do is concentrate on your art. A good agent can usually negotiate higher rates, and book more for you anyway. Also, a good representative won't let you get screwed by shady promoters. Make shure you do your homework before chosing an agent, good help is hard to find. Ask if you can talk with some other performers he/she represents.

^_-


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