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Fire Precautions in Projection Room

This page has been added for special interest.  The details given refer to the highly risky nitrocellulose film that caused several cinema fires, including the ones mentioned below.
Later the film was changed to safety film which virtually would not burn even if a lighted match was applied to it.

At the foot of this page is a film clip showing the safety fire shutters that isolate projection rooms from auditoriums in the event of a fire.

On the right is shown a very unusual emergency exit - it was by a rope ladder from the elevated access doors used to install the projectors with the aid of the lifting beam positioned above them.

Fire risk prior to using safety film

Cinema fires caused by ignition of nitrocellulose film stock were the cause of the 1926 Dromcolliher cinema tragedy in County Limerick in which 48 people died and the 1929 Glen Cinema Disaster which killed 69 children. Today, nitrate film projection is normally highly regulated and requires extensive precautionary measures including extra projectionist health and safety training. Projectors certified to run nitrate films have many precautions, among them the chambering of the feed and takeup reels in thick metal covers with small slits to allow the film to run through. The projector is modified to accommodate several fire extinguishers with nozzles aimed at the film gate. The extinguishers automatically trigger if a piece of flammable fabric placed near the gate starts to burn. While this triggering would likely damage or destroy a significant portion of the projection components, it would prevent a fire which could cause far greater damage. Projection rooms may be required to have automatic metal covers for the projection windows, preventing the spread of fire to the auditorium.

Safety Shutters a typical Projection Room

Testing the operation of shutters before installing projectors at a new installation. 

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