In the good old days at Dunedin's
Westpac Mayfair Theatre, a call from the stage for ‘‘Mr Sands
to report to the dressing rooms'' signalled a potential
Theatre manager Bruce Collier said it was a code designed to
alert theatre staff that there was a major fire in the
dressing rooms and the audience should be evacuated
immediately through the front door.
But those days will soon be gone. Electricians began
installing an estimated 1.6km of cable for a $20,000
state-of-the-art analogue addressable fire-warning system
Mr Collier said because the theatre could be occupied by more
than 100 people, an approved evacuation scheme was required
under the Fire Service Act (1975) and the Fire Safety and
Evacuation of Buildings Regulations (1992).
‘‘For several years, the New Zealand Fire Service has
expressed concern about the evacuation scheme - particularly,
the means of communicating the discovery of a fire and the
initiation of an evacuation which relied on word of mouth and
‘‘Finally, the crunch came. They would not approve our scheme
unless a warning system was installed which was less prone to
human error. It was, quite simply, find the money or face
closure,'' he said.
Thanks to donations from the Nellie Milnes Charitable Trust,
Bendigo Valley Sports and Charity Foundation, the Lion
Foundation, and the Pub Charity, Mr Collier said a new fire
warning system could be installed that would be able to tell
staff exactly where a fire was in the theatre.
‘‘We are very grateful to the trusts and foundations which
came to our aid as this was beyond the financial resources of
the Dunedin Opera Company which owns the theatre.
‘‘Safety of patrons, performers and staff at the Mayfair
Theatre will be enhanced thanks to their support.''
Mr Collier said the new system would be completed, tested and
evacuation procedures would be revised before the busy season
of productions began in late April.