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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Water Damage Advice

Author Topic: Water Damage Advice
Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1553
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 07-09-2015 09:30 AM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've received a panic call from a theater owner.

A fire sprinkler went off backstage in a large, old, single screen auditorium.

There was no fire. I still don't have details as to what set it off, but I
suspect it may have been hit by someone moving a tall ladder back there.

I understand quite a bit of water was released before they could shut it off.

(Word of advice: All theater floor staff, no matter how stupid they are, should
have some idea of where the main city and fire supply water shut off valves are.)

They've shut down for the day, and I've already advised them that they're going
to need to get a company that specializes in water damage abatement in ASAP.

I will be heading down there shortly to take a look at whatever happened.

Forgetting for a moment about the speakers, (oh, nooo!) My question is this:

IF the screen & curtain got wet, would it be best for me to leave the curtain
"UP" or "DOWN" for now? (Yes, ironically, it was a "waterfall" curtain! [Roll Eyes] )

I'm afraid if I leave it 'down" (it was down when the sprinklers went off) the
screen might get moldy. If I leave it "up" then the curtain won't dry and IT
might get moldy. Although I can control the curtain from here at home, I'm
not moving anything until I go and down there and inspect things for myself.
For all I know the curtain motor could be underwater.

It's a silver screen, I don't remember the make, and it's only about 5yrs old.

I will be heading over there as soon as I can getmyassingear, but in the
meantime, I was wondering if anyone here had any experience or other
advice to offer.

. . . and of course, I'll discuss this with the 'drying guys' once they show up.

Whattamess! (Maybye I should call that theater in the Phillipines and
see how they dried out their auditorium last month! LoL)

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Kenneth Wuepper
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 996
From: Saginaw, MI, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 07-09-2015 10:38 AM      Profile for Kenneth Wuepper   Email Kenneth Wuepper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 


The water soaked curtain is many times heavier than in the dry state. This is a serious consideration on the rigging. Be very cautious about people under or around that area. The weight of the wet curtain is capable of pulling down some major rigging and should be treated as a genuine hazard.

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Jim Cassedy
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1553
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Dec 2006

 - posted 07-09-2015 10:57 AM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I didn't even think of that factor.

However, as I said- - I don't have a lot of details yet, and I'm just about
to head out the door & over there. I'm not even sure the curtain or screen
IS actually wet at this point, but was just trying to get some advice.

- - and yours was excellent!

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Manny Montes
Master Film Handler

Posts: 270
From: United States
Registered: Feb 2010

 - posted 07-09-2015 10:15 PM      Profile for Manny Montes   Email Manny Montes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If the curtain is soaked, as it was said before, be careful of the weight. In all honesty, its easier to clean and remediate mold from fabric then it would be from a screen. I'd make sure the screen fully dries (never had to remove mold from a screen before but I'm sure its not a fun process), but when I used to work in maintenance for a restaurant, I've removed mold from curtains before and its fairly straightforward.

Might be best to pull the curtain down off the rigging, dry it with dryers and then put it back up. Yes it will cost a bit more in the front, but mold really isn't fun to deal with.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7035
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 07-09-2015 11:46 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Jim Cassedy
(Word of advice: All theater floor staff, no matter how stupid they are, should have some idea of where the main city and fire supply water shut off valves are.)
And the booth staff, too! I have to confess to being ignorant on that point myself, but am about to find out where those valves are for both of our theaters.

Presumably the screen consists of a plastic substrate with a synthetic coating, and so it's not going to absorb any moisture. If so, and assuming that there isn't any damage to the reflective coating itself, the only thing you'd need to worry about is removing residue (e.g. limescale) left on the screen after it dries out.

As others have pointed out, the curtain is potentially a gnarlier problem.

In 2000 I was working at a theater on the bank of a river, which burst its bank and flooded the basement. The basement contained a cafe, the breaker/intake room and offices, and so no actual auditoria or booths were flooded. But we did have to turn the power off (the electrical breaker room was under about 4 feet of water for over two weeks), and so by the time the floodwater had gone and we were able to power the building up again, it was thoroughly damp.

That was the only time I've ever been close to an exploding xenon bulb. Because the booth in which it happened was a good 30-35 feet above the waterline, we assumed that there would be no problem in powering everything up and getting going. Wrong - about 2 minutes after lighting the bulb of projector #1, BANG! When we then looked in #2's lamphouse, there was condensation visible on the bulb envelope. The humidity level in the whole building was sky high, and after that we ran space heaters in all the booths on full blast for a full day, with doors and windows open, before trying to power up anything else.

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