The open grille type of fire escape, which also was provided to satisfy a whimsical requirement of the law, is a frightful source of danger rather than an aid to escape. Timid people balk at the risk of going on to its latticed platform in time of danger, and thus may create a temporary blockade. In such a situation, should the high heel of a woman's shoe be caught between these iron slats (as it might easily do), a catastrophe might be precipitated. And the raw iron of which these fire escapes are composed is a rapid conductor and a lasting conservator of heat, that easily might be heated to a high degree without outwardly betraying its actual condition. The author recalls an instance of a victim of such a disaster, suddenly aroused from his sleep by an alarm of fire, who in a dazed effort to escape clambered through the bedroom window on to an open fire escape highly heated by intermittent blasts of flame from a window below, and amid agonizing cries for help was barely rescued by the daring efforts of a heroic fireman from being grilled alive on this innocent appearing superheated gridiron.
The aisles of an audience hall should be ample and increase in width toward the exits. The rows of seats should be spaced sufficiently far apart (thirty-six inches from back to back) to insure free passage, and each seat should be firmly fastened to the floor. The main floor aisles should never have risers, but should be formed with a gradual incline.
Large balconies, if approached from the rear of the auditorium, should be pierced by entrance tunnels leading from a mezzanine floor to the cross passage behind the front loggias. In addition, the stairways should be continued from the mezzanine floor, on either side of the house, to the upper level of the balcony. In motion picture houses, the entrance to or exit from the machine booth should be independent of the auditorium.
If conditions permit, a large circular or oval panel, divisible into two sections and capable of being readily opened to the sky, should be installed in the middle of the ceiling of the auditorium as a decorative ornament. Otherwise, vent flues should be supplied in the roof of the stage house and connected with the auditorium by large ventilators.