Rockin LOVE tour

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06/02/2008
Today is the first official day of the exposition part of the National Fire Protection Association's World Safety Conference and Exposition, though educational sessions and other events have been ongoing here at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas all weekend. On Saturday afternoon I was surprised to see several packed conference rooms late in the afternoon. Yesterday, I went to the Behind the Scenes Tour and Technical Presentation of the The Beatles LOVE Cirque Du Soleil show The theater-in-the-round at the Mirage presented all kinds of problems to the folks charged with protecting it—and the audience and the performers—from fire. The result is a remarkably complex, multi-layered, adaptable fire system. Very impressive. And the tour was a production in itself. Doug Evans of the Clark County and his team of engineers and the Cirque people did a great job explaining the system and coordinating moving 75 visitors to key points in and around the theater. We were down in the bowels of the theater where the mechanical lifts move parts of the stage, in the main control room and way up on the grid, which is 55 feet above the main stage, and yes, you can see through the floor. Among the visitors was a group from A-Tech Systems, a fire and security integrator out of Hacienda Heights,Calif. Dereck Rascon, a consultant and designer for A-Tech is also chief engineer for the famous Wiltern Center theater in Los Angelos. He told me the Cirque system was far more complex than anything he'd seen before. I had a chance to talk to Tom Wahl from SAFE Electronics, the Vegas company that designed and installed the fire system and did the controls for the suppression system. He's got a team of people dedicated to managing the fire system who work at the theater 40 hours a week and are on call all the time. Asked about the maintenance involved, he said, "We do maintenance on it daily." I also had a chance to meet the fire suppression contractor Lyle Norris of Desert Fire Protection here in Vegas. He told me about he collaboration involved in designing this system. "It was fun. This theater is unlike any other in the world and I've been doing this kind of work for 25 years. It was an authentic team effort. We sat in a room and figured out what to do because there's nothing in the codes that are going to tell us. The intent of the code is there, but how to make it work in this building is not there." See the July issue for more on this story