Jan 31, 2024
When Should You Use Professional Fire Services in Your TV or Film Production?
It’s common for TV and film productions to work with fire, explosions, pyrotechnics, smoke machines, and similar special effects. They may be used to tell a story, set the tone, or get a particularly dramatic shot.
But, when you work with fire or special effects, there are always risks. The safety of the crew, performers, and anyone else present is paramount so you must take extra care when handling these elements. Here, we’ll answer some key questions surrounding the use of fire in TV and film productions and how TV and film fire cover can help you mitigate fire-related risks.
What Are the Potential Fire Safety Issues on Film and TV Sets?
The use of open flames and combustible materials to create special effects on set poses risks. Even when working with props as seemingly safe as candles, you must consider the risk of fire spreading.
There will no doubt be many more props, scenery structures, and costumes that could be flammable or act as an accelerant to fire. These items may also act as obstructions in the case of fire. Naturally, the chance of fire spreading increases greatly when you introduce high-risk stunts such as explosions or fire scenes.
On unscripted TV productions, you may also bring in pyrotechnics equipment that shoots flames or fireworks to add atmosphere. The use of smoke machines on all kinds of productions is also commonplace. This kind of equipment and machinery may develop faults or cause accidents. Performers and crew may come too close to the equipment and get injured. There’s also the risk that they will be used improperly or by untrained individuals.
On film and TV productions you will likely work on locations with which you, performers, and crew are unfamiliar. There may be a lack of fire exits or escape routes. Furthermore, it’s difficult to manage evacuations in unfamiliar surroundings as people are more likely to panic or make mistakes.
What Do Fire Safety Professionals Do on TV & Film Productions?
TV and film fire safety professionals may carry out a number of key duties before, during, and after filming. Of course, this depends on the requirements of the production or even the scene in question. Fire professionals’ duties include but are not limited to:
Performing Fire Safety Risk Assessments
Experienced TV and film fire safety officers work with the production team to assess, for example, how an individual scene could impact the safety of performers and crew. They will outline the main fire risks, preparing for every eventuality. Plus, they’ll decide which measures to put in place to mitigate risk prior to filming.
Offering Technical Guidance
When you have fire safety officers present they will carefully observe the use of fire, smoke, pyrotechnics, and special effects during production. They are able to advise on safety precautions throughout filming and respond quickly if issues arise.
Beyond offering safety advice, they can share their technical knowledge to help you coordinate scenes that contain fire. They’ll assist you in creating scenes that are both dramatic and realistic based on their knowledge and experience of how fire operates.
Supplying Vehicles and Safety Equipment
Following a fire safety risk assessment of the production, fire safety officers will have an in-depth understanding of what kind of equipment is needed on set. For instance, this may include breathing apparatus, industrial fans, water tanks, fire extinguishers, and thermal imaging equipment.
You may also require an incident room on set from which fire marshals operate. They may provide vehicles such as fire appliances, 4x4s, and further support vehicles, to respond in case of emergency.
When Do You Need Professional Fire Services On Set?
Professional TV and film fire services comprise highly trained and experienced firefighters. They know how to mitigate risk when working with fire. This means you don’t have to sacrifice the dramatic shot you need. Shots are carefully planned alongside an expert and you have the peace of mind that your performers and crew will be safe.
Professional fire fighters can further train and consult with the entire crew in advance of filming to ensure everyone knows how to respond to an emergency, which includes evacuation procedures and the use of fire extinguishers.
In the case of a fire breaking out, fire services are expert communicators on hand to keep everyone calm and safe. They may be a necessary presence if you’re filming in a rural location with limited access to local emergency services.
What’s more, in any situation where you work with fire, a trained professional can spot developing incidents and take preemptive measures to ensure the safety of everyone in the vicinity before an emergency even occurs.
What Are the Legal Requirements?
Like any employer, production companies must adhere to health and safety laws, taking special care to mitigate risks for everybody on set. This can be particularly difficult in the media industry when working with freelancers and workers or performers who come and go as they may not be needed every day.
But, according to the UK Health and Safety Executive, the ethical and legal responsibility for all those on set lies with the producer or production company. The production team must have a health and safety system in place, allocate health and safety duties, assess and manage risks, and review the health and safety system regularly.
Fire safety professionals can make sure the production company fulfils its health and safety obligations and is compliant in accordance with the most up-to-date fire safety regulations.
There are many risks to consider when working with fire in the TV and film industry such as issues with pyrotechnics, workers becoming panicked in unfamiliar surroundings and much more. Proper training and oversight is needed to mitigate these risks and keep everybody on set safe.
Professional TV and film fire cover is useful in many ways. These trained individuals make risk assessments, take preemptive measures, and are able to react quickly and calmly in emergency scenarios. This is what makes it possible to work with fire and special effects, acquiring the dramatic, realistic shots you need all while knowing responsible professionals are around to focus on health and safety.