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Old November 12th, 2008, 07:12 AM   #1
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Preventing fire sprinkler activation

Is there an effective way to temporarily shield sprinkler heads and smoke/heat sensors from lights? I'll be setting up in a small room this week in a building that is riddled with the things in every room, and I've been losing sleep about it. I will be using an open 500W Omni, a softboxed 750W Tota and a softboxed 500W Omni. This is a failure-is-not-an-option type situation, if I can't be sure that the lights won't trigger the system, I'm going to have to cancel the shoot. If the sprinklers go off, we're talking major disaster (to both my equipment and the client!).

I've read up on sprinklers and found that they may activate if the temperature rises above a minimum of 150 degrees F. I thought about placing small buckets with a bit of ice water over the sprinkler heads, then taping candles and a couple of thermometers at various points on the ceiling. The logic being that since wax melts at 150F, if any of the candles start to melt or get soft, then we know the air temperature at the ceiling is getting too warm, and the ice water buckets will keep the heads safe while we shut the lights off. I could also check the thermometers periodically to make sure that the temp is staying well below the trigger zone (like below 100F) and shut the lights off if it gets too warm.

I will definately keep the lights as far away as possible, but due to the number of sprinkler heads and the size of the room, the farthest away I can get from one is about four feet.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 07:50 AM   #2
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Four feet is cutting it close. I'd suggest renting fluorescent lights for this one. And it may be illegal to do any of the things you had suggested that would in any way alter the performance of the sprinkler heads.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 08:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Dan Robinson View Post
Is there an effective way to temporarily shield sprinkler heads and smoke/heat sensors from lights? I'll be setting up in a small room this week in a building that is riddled with the things in every room, and I've been losing sleep about it. I will be using an open 500W Omni, a softboxed 750W Tota and a softboxed 500W Omni. This is a failure-is-not-an-option type situation, if I can't be sure that the lights won't trigger the system, I'm going to have to cancel the shoot. If the sprinklers go off, we're talking major disaster (to both my equipment and the client!).

I've read up on sprinklers and found that they may activate if the temperature rises above a minimum of 150 degrees F. I thought about placing small buckets with a bit of ice water over the sprinkler heads, then taping candles and a couple of thermometers at various points on the ceiling. The logic being that since wax melts at 150F, if any of the candles start to melt or get soft, then we know the air temperature at the ceiling is getting too warm, and the ice water buckets will keep the heads safe while we shut the lights off. I could also check the thermometers periodically to make sure that the temp is staying well below the trigger zone (like below 100F) and shut the lights off if it gets too warm.

I will definately keep the lights as far away as possible, but due to the number of sprinkler heads and the size of the room, the farthest away I can get from one is about four feet.
I accidentally set off the smoke alarm (not the sprinklers thanks goodness) in an office building I was doing a shoot in. What did me in was a scrim on a 1k started smoking, I don't know why either, there was plenty of ventilation for it, it wasn't too close. As I sat in the parking lot with about 150 other building employees, I was kind of bummed and felt like an idiot.

Shaun's suggestion would be the only way I would chance it. Fluoros would be safe and are effective, I did a shoot yesterday with two of my Kino Flo Diva 200s, they work great and there are no heat worries.

Good luck,

Dan

Last edited by Dan Brockett; November 12th, 2008 at 03:24 PM. Reason: typo fix
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Old November 12th, 2008, 01:32 PM   #4
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I just got back from the site after running a pre-shoot test. I bought four thermometers and mounted them on the drop ceiling frame next to the sprinkler heads and the smoke detector. I set the lights up and switched them on, keeping a close watch on the thermometers and the any tangible heat buildup on the ceiling.

When I started, the room temp was 75F. After 45 minutes, the thermometers all read only 80F, with no tangible heat buildup (to touch) along the ceiling. So, this may not be an issue in this case (thankfully). The only place I could feel heat in the air was directly above the lights, but not along the ceiling like I had expected. There was virtually no heat in the air above the softboxes (I left the top vents closed).

I feel good enough about the results of this to go ahead with the shoot. It's only a 20-minute deal, and I'll still leave the thermometers up and check on them constantly. There just was not the heat buildup along the ceiling that I had feared.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 03:26 PM   #5
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I just got back from the site after running a pre-shoot test. I bought four thermometers and mounted them on the drop ceiling frame next to the sprinkler heads and the smoke detector. I set the lights up and switched them on, keeping a close watch on the thermometers and the any tangible heat buildup on the ceiling.

When I started, the room temp was 75F. After 45 minutes, the thermometers all read only 80F, with no tangible heat buildup (to touch) along the ceiling. So, this may not be an issue in this case (thankfully). The only place I could feel heat in the air was directly above the lights, but not along the ceiling like I had expected. There was virtually no heat in the air above the softboxes (I left the top vents closed).

I feel good enough about the results of this to go ahead with the shoot. It's only a 20-minute deal, and I'll still leave the thermometers up and check on them constantly. There just was not the heat buildup along the ceiling that I had feared.
You are a smart guy, you did what everyone in this business should do - location scout! Glad to hear that it worked out for you.

Dan
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Old November 12th, 2008, 03:54 PM   #6
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You are a smart guy, you did what everyone in this business should do - location scout!
BAH! It's far more fun to sit in front of my computer and argue with people I don't know about what would happen and who's making a HUGE mistake! <snide grin>

Dan's right. In fact I would go so far as to say you've gone above and beyond a location scout. I'd STILL try to offset the lights from the sprinklers though (as in: don't place your lights DIRECTLY underneath the sprinkler heads).
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Old November 12th, 2008, 10:12 PM   #7
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you won't set the sprinklers off. you'd have to put something like a 5K right underneath to do the job. even then, you could place a flag with foil between the sprinkler head and light to reflect the heat away

500W isn't even close to setting them off - thats assuming you aren't bouncing the lights a foot away fully spotted on the sprinker head.

yes good idea to stay a foot or so away. if you are really paranoid, a peice of aluminum foil could shield the sprinkler... but doing that is probably illegal in some places. won't claim to of every done it :?
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Old November 13th, 2008, 12:44 AM   #8
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Michael Uva's Grip Book recommends putting a styrofoam cup over a sprinkler head in a building to deflect heat from a lamp under it.
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Old November 13th, 2008, 08:49 AM   #9
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Michael Uva's Grip Book recommends putting a styrofoam cup over a sprinkler head in a building to deflect heat from a lamp under it.
Good one, I have seen grips do this on shoots.

Dan
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Old November 13th, 2008, 09:54 AM   #10
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I found these outdoor faucet insulators at Lowe's that are perfect for the application. They are built like a mini cooler with insulating styrofoam, a hard shell and a foam gasket. Light enough to be held in place with tape. 3 bucks each at Lowes, I bought 2 to add to my gear. They were in the plumbing section of the store.

Probably the same thing as a styrofoam cup, but a little more robust.

http://www.hardwarestore.com/media/p...7_front200.jpg
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Old November 15th, 2008, 02:06 AM   #11
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Fascinating, and I learned a few new tricks (and things) to add to my bag. I am more and more understanding why Dan's grip setup weighs tons. Grips truly are the jacks of all trades aren't they ?

I have both Flos and some tungsten, and more and more I am liking the daylight flos. They don't put out light like a Tota by any means, but they have other attributes so long as you don't need a lot of well lit wide shots.
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Old November 15th, 2008, 01:11 PM   #12
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Fascinating, and I learned a few new tricks (and things) to add to my bag. I am more and more understanding why Dan's grip setup weighs tons. Grips truly are the jacks of all trades aren't they ?

I have both Flos and some tungsten, and more and more I am liking the daylight flos. They don't put out light like a Tota by any means, but they have other attributes so long as you don't need a lot of well lit wide shots.
Hi Chris:

I have no idea how much my grip package actually weighs. The terms in tons comes from how much grip gear would be on a 2, 3, 5 or 10 ton grip truck. A basic solid package that can probably still fit in a van or pickup would be a 2 ton. If you look on www.cinemagadgets.com they actually sell packages by these terms.

I have a little more than a two ton, I own a huge Chevy 2500 3/4 ton crew cab diesel and I cannot even come close to shoving all of the my grip gear into it, so you would need a smaller real grip truck, like a 3 ton to carry it all. A 5 ton is what you would typically see on TV shows and such and I usually see 10 ton packages on big features, these are the huge, really long trailers that are hauled by a separate semi on the front end.

Dan
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Old November 17th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #13
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Dan:

Geeze... and I thought I had to bring a lot of stuff when it was filling my Ford Explorer with the back seat folded down!

Regards,

Chris
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