Different buildings or venues in Cambridge will have different fire alarm systems and different evacuation procedures. Make sure you read the relevant section(s).
Management will, on special occasions, conduct evacuation drills during tech rehearsals (they won’t tell you about this) and also conduct weekly test (which they will do an announcement about on the theatre's Paging System beforehand). The main fire alarm panel is in the Clubroom and has key switches to isolate the smoke detectors on stage and in the Larkum if you wish to use haze during a performance. There are fire alarm repeater panels in the Foyer, Management Office, Bar and in the PS Wing. There is also a fire alarm annunciator light on the SM Desk.
The fire alarm actually has several stages or levels of activation:
|Pre-Alarm||Constant beeping from main fire panel and repeater panels.||Can continue indefinitely.||Small amount of haze/smoke OR a fault in the system.||Find source of problem and investigate. Reduce haze/smoke levels.|
|Pre-Alert||Intermittent sirens backstage. Strobes on stage and control positions.||2 minutes before triggering Full Alert.||Some smoke/haze.||If no management present then EVACUATE. Otherwise find source of problem: if fire then hit a 'break glass'; if no fire then isolate area and keep under supervision.|
|Full Alert||Continuous sirens backstage. Strobes on stage and control positions. Fire doors close and stage louvres open automatically.||Evacuation has now been triggered. University Security notified. Fire Service are on their way.||Continuous excessive smoke/haze OR heat sensor triggered OR 'break glass' activated.||EVACUATE. Do not attempt to reset the alarm. Assemble on the opposite side of Park Street and conduct a 'roll call'.|
During normal building operations, Theatre Management will be in charge of running evacuations. During a tech or dress rehearsal the Stage Manager is responsible for the evacuation of the stage and dressing rooms and Management for the rest of the building. During a performance, the Duty Manager is responsible for evacuating Front of House areas whilst the SM evacuates stage/backstage/dressing rooms. Outside of the usual building hours, the key holder is in charge of running any evacuations.
- The usual problem area for triggering the alarm is the patchbay. If there is a lot of haze on stage turn down the hazer and the levels will hopefully decrease enough to clear the alarm. In some shows, the haze levels mean that the patchbay fire alarm has to be isolated (by the DM, SM or other designated person) and then ‘guarded’ by a member of the prod team - they are acting as a human fire alarm.
- During a show or rehearsal if you hear intermittent sirens/see strobes you should vacate the fly towers on stage and prepare to evacuate, but otherwise continue normally.
- Full Alert is sometimes referred to as an RTOPS - Red Trucks on Park Street. This is because the fire service get automatically called.
- 'Break glass' fire alarm stations are sometimes referred to as MCP's - Manual Call Points.
Golden rule: if at any point you see flames, hit a break-glass and evacuate.