By: Dan Culhane, USITT President
I recently had the great privilege of visiting the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, headquarters in Quincy, MA, while attending an NFPA-80 committee meeting. As an alternate committee member, I sat in on discussions about possible changes to NFPA-80, the code that governs fire doors and other opening protectives in buildings. Chapter 20 of NFPA-80 specifically deals with fire safety curtains in theatres. Fire curtains have fascinated me ever since I was told not to “mess” with the first one I ever saw on my high school stage. Years later, I finally had all the permission I needed to “mess” with fire curtains. At SECOA, I oversaw the design of hundreds of them installed all across the country. Being an alternate on the committee that oversees code governing fire curtains is a dream come true for me.
USITT volunteers serve on many other important codes and standards committees including the Life Safety Committee, the International Building Code Council, the National Electrical Code dealing with stages, and Underwriters Laboratory dealing with Fire Curtain Hardware. We even have representation on ESTA’s Technical Standards Council, which provides oversight and guidance to ESTA’s various Working Groups. ESTA has nine working groups that create the American National Standards Institute or ANSI Standards. These standards define the safety and minimum design standards for events, stages, and arenas. I would be surprised if there was not more than one USITT member on every one of ESTA’s nine working groups.
USITT’s volunteer reach extends far beyond the Conference and into our day-to-day working lives, helping to ensure that all in the entertainment industry are protected and safe. I am continually amazed at the impact that volunteers make in this world. I want to thank all of those countless individuals who freely give their time and talent to make sure that safe practices are created and maintained.