How can I help a venue obtain a permit?
So, a promoter or booker has contacted you to perform with fire at a venue. How can you tell if the venue is suitable for fire and how do you do it legally? A permit is venue specific, it ensures that the FDNY has inspected the space to make sure it's suitable for fire performance. It is not a cart blanch to do fire anywhere and anytime in the venue. You will need to inform the explosives unit if you plan on doing a show under that permit, you will have to answer some questions about location and timing of the show and provide details about the act.
Get a letter of consent from the venue owner. It can be specific for just one event and only with certain performers or it can be broad and allow for fire indefinitely. Do not skip this step! Permission from a third party is not sufficient for starting a fire in someone’s building. The owner absolutely needs to know about it and agree to it in advance. When the owner knows, the general manager and all the staff will know too and there are no surprises when you arrive with fuel or suddenly light up a fire.
Now that you have a line to the venue owner (if its direct or through the booker) you will need some information about the venue to supply to the FDNY. Gather up the following info:
- Letter of intent a sample letter can be found in the study material, email firstname.lastname@example.org for the PDF file. Fill out the information on the form, under description of effect and notes write out a description of the show. Under materials and quantity, list the props and fuels being used and how many. On page one, there is an inspection date and date of the effect, it’s good practice to have an inspection a few days before the event in case some changes need to be made.
- Copy of your COF card, it’s good to have a scan of your E-29 or E-28 card on file.
- A copy of the CFO, the Certificate of Occupancy states how many people can occupy the space and verifies that its up to code. If the venue does not have a CFO (like a warehouse being rented for an event), they can obtain a TPA, temporary assembly permit. Any public place will have this document, if its on private property like a private residence, it’s not needed.
- Insurance certificate, most fire performers go with Specialty Insurance because its easy to use to use, if you already have this insurance, just go to the certificate request page and list the venue as additionally insured. You should also list the FDNY at 9 Metrotech as additionally insured. Add email@example.com and the venue contact as additional email addresses so they get a copy as well. If you have different insurance company like Fractured Atlas, contact your representative to add the venue as additionally insured. if you don't have insurance, you can have the venue add you to their general liability policy.
- Site plan, Though it may not be entirely necessary, it’s good to have for yourself and the FDNY will like to see it.
- Signed and notarized release forms, these will be supplied by the FDNY, all performers should sign release forms that state they do not hold the FDNY liable for their actions.
- Flame Proofing certificates, if there are curtains near the performance area, they will need to be treated and certified. Luckily all venues are required to have treated curtains and should have the certificates on file.
All of these documents can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org , the most important one is the letter of intent, it will put your event on their calendar. If you don't have every document, its ok to send the letter of intent without it and send them information as you get it. The site inspection will cost $210 and monitoring the show will cost $210-$420 depending if it goes past midnight. This should be paid for by the venue. The permit can last for one event or run monthly depending on several factors. If a venue is compliant, sets up a safe fueling area, and always hires licensed performers, the monthly permit will cost less because less monitoring is necessary.
What kind of setup does the FDNY want to see? They want to see that the fuel is stored in a well ventilated, sprinklered room in a metal box with signs that state "Fuel Storage, No Smoking". They want venues to only hire licensed fire performers and safeties or hire a Fire Producer to oversee non licensed performers. There should be two fire safety people with duvetyn blankets and C02 extinguishers on either side of the performance area. Ventilation is really important, any building with a liquor license should have an exit on either side of the building, be sure to open the doors and all available windows immediately after a performance. If there’s an alarm system with air density sensors or carbon dioxide sensors, it will need to be turned off by an appointed person at the venue prior to the performance. The venue should be up to code and have all their documents together, the fire extinguishers should be up to date and the fire exits should be unobstructed.
As a performer, if you have gone through all this trouble to make a venue FDNY compliant, it’s a good business practice to keep your relationship going with that venue and perform there often. With a monthly or annual permit, you can continue to perform similar acts under the guidelines that the FDNY put into place, you just need to email or call them and let them know before each show. Having a solid contract that states your rates, your needs and your safety standards is important. It only takes one irresponsible fire performer to make the venue cut all fire performance or worse, cause property damage, burn down the building or an entire block. It’s good to explain to the managers and the staff the importance of safety measures such as not smoking near the fuel, keeping windows open and fire exits clear.