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son-of-sam
07-24-2012, 08:10 PM
I was talking to another Haunt owner in my town and his haunt does not have a sprinkler system in it. He told me he was grandfathered in since his haunt was open before they passed the codes/laws that made the haunts here get systems and since the square footage never changed and he never did any permanent renovations to the building like making it larger he does not have to have a sprinkler system. This sounds pretty crazy but he has been open like clockwork every season. I know every city/state has there own codes/laws. Has anybody heard of this in there areas?

BrotherMysterio
07-25-2012, 07:05 AM
I was talking to another Haunt owner in my town and his haunt does not have a sprinkler system in it. He told me he was grandfathered in since his haunt was open before they passed the codes/laws that made the haunts here get systems and since the square footage never changed and he never did any permanent renovations to the building like making it larger he does not have to have a sprinkler system. This sounds pretty crazy but he has been open like clockwork every season. I know every city/state has there own codes/laws. Has anybody heard of this in there areas?

A lot of this has to do with the confidence level of the local FM, and one's previous working relationship with him/her, and history of the show and any cases of incident, not to mention matters of jurisdiction (like being in a remote location). Some FM's are happy with a fire truck out front and a few volunteer firemen on hand, while others, as with Pickel's case, are making him jump thru every hoop imaginable, demanding things which are not only not industry standard, but also not in the least bit customary and reasonable. Allen's wife has been a FM for 20 years, and she has never heard of half the crap that Pickel is putting up with. Funnily enough, Pickel's FM is a pretty decent guy, but he's a haunt virgin, and is about to retire, so he'd rather go out in a blaze of glory, vs. down in flames, ergo, nothing wacky on his final watch.

As for your friend's having been grandfathered in and not having to have a sprinkler system, well, that's fine for now, but what if he gets a new FM and that new FM is strictly by the books and wants to leave no stone unturned? That would change things.

Even more so, what happens if this season we have a repeat of the Six Flags incident (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haunted_Castle_%28Six_Flags_Great_Adventure%29), or a repeat of the Verdun Manor arson, at his haunt or a nearby haunt? Grandfathered in or not, I guarantee you, he'll have a sprinkler system in place the following season (assuming he even opens), and his FM will probably insist that all haunts on his watch (possibly including yours) will have one as well.

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I'm sure there's some frightfully wise and sage advice to be found here about "better safe than sorry" and all that, but frankly if you can produce a safe show and your FM is okay with you not having a sprinkler system, per se, then that may be fine for now, but just be really ready to be really flexible, cuz you never know what your FM is going to say until s/he actually says it.

Just ask Frightener. He went from no adjustments needed, with his FM being as happy as a lark, to suddenly having to pony-up $40K for a sprinkler system. It took some real creativity to come up with another solution (one that didn't cost $40K) to make his FM happy.

C.

Howie Slobber Erlich
07-25-2012, 08:18 AM
I went through a situation that was similar a few years ago. We were forced to follow every code on the books to a tee. We were even asked to install safety items and things that were not in any code books, state or local rules. We were always happy to do anything our Fire Inspector, Building Inspector, Electrical Inspector or the city asked us to do. We even went further and added more safety features than they required. Some of which cost us a ton of money but our opinion was that we would rather be safe than sorry. We of course never wanted to see anyone ever get hurt in our haunt by something we could have prevented.

Our closest competition in the same city (4 miles down the same road) as it turns out, was not required to do any of the things that we were being asked to do. In fact, we found out that they never even applied or paid for inspections of any kind. They had so many safety violations that the haunt was a death trap. No emergency doors, or at least they were not marked, no insurance, using extension cords for all their power, no directional arrows, black visquine (plastic) covering the entire haunt and hanging low enough for customers to touch and too many other things to list.

Well, I got pissed. I thought, why should they get away with all that? If someone did get hurt it would cause a black eye on the whole industry. But I guess what was really bothering me was that year our permits went up almost 2 hundred percent from the previous years. They were not paying anything at all.

I freaked out. I went to city hall and respectfully demanded to speak with the city attorney or someone from the city attorney's office. They led me to the office where I explained the entire situation. They said they would look into it.

Both my haunt and theirs were scheduled to open for the season that night. We had already passed our inspections a couple weeks earlier with only a couple small changes that they asked us to make, (we had already spent thousands in previous years getting things the way they wanted it.) I found out the next day that the Fire Marshal was ordered by the mayor at 6:30 PM while he was at home eating dinner with his family to get over there right away and approve them so they could open on time that night, which he regrettably did, not wanting to lose his job.

Once I found out that they were allowed to open under these circumstances, I sent some people up to the haunt the next night. They used their phone to video the outside and inside of the entire haunt. They were able to catch one of the security people outside telling customers to relieve themselves behind a car because the owner forgot to order porta-potties. We also captured the visquine hanging down (which we took a small piece of,) no fire exits, actors touching people on purpose and a number of other violations.

I gave all the info to my lawyer. He went on Monday to the city. He was told that they would look into all of this. The next day they informed him that all the city inspectors had been to the haunt and made the owner fix all of the violations. I knew that was BS because I knew someone at the time that worked for the building Dept. Who stated that the only thing they made them do was tear down the visquine. The real thing at that point that pissed me off was that I had to pay over $1200.00 for permits while they paid nothing and I had to submit my insurance which I had paid thousands for and as far as I could tell they were running without any at all.

I was too busy with my haunt to continue to pursue it any further that year and just let it go to concentrate on my own show.

The next year a new mayor was elected to the city. And to my surprise, the haunt that had been located at that location was gone. I found out that the owner of the other "haunt" was very good friends with the old mayor. Golf buddies in fact. Once he was ousted from the city, the haunt owner new he would not be able to get away with anything anymore. I was actually apologized to from some of the city building Dept. and some inspectors. They said their hands were tied. That they had felt bad for me because they new what I had to put up with and they wished they could have done something about it. But, they were afraid of the repercussions they would face if they said anything. From that point on, I have never had another issue with the city. In fact they are an awesome city to work with and very reasonable now.

I guess the moral of the story is to get the mayor on your side. LOL or do the things you know are right to make the haunt safe for your customers. Don't worry about the other haunts and what they get away with because there is probably little you can do about it. Talk to your inspectors and see if they will work with you and come up with other solutions that will make you and them happy!

Howie "Slobber" Erlich