An appendix reciting a few of the most necessary regulations may prove of service to the reader. These will include valuable extracts from the electric code of the National Board of Fire Underwriters.
In addition the theatre ordinance purposed by the same authoritive body will be published, together with similar ordinances recently enacted by the Borough of Manhattan (New York City), and the cities of Boston, Philadelphia. Chicago and San Francisco are governed by state laws, with some added local restrictions. The states of Mississippi, Kansas and Ohio also have state laws relative to theatres.
The ordinance of the National Board of Fire Underwriters is not imperative except for the adjustment of insurance rates. Still it was drafted as a suggested model for municipalities, and is hereby given as such.
Every theatre or opera house or other building or parts of building intended to be used for theatrical or operatic purposes or motion picture shows, hereafter erected for the accommodation of more than three hundred persons on all tiers shall be built to comply with the requirements of this ordinance. No building hereafter erected not in accordance with these requirements may be used as a theatre, opera house, or by a motion picture show.
The Building Inspector shall determine the number of persons which every such building may accommodate. This determination shall be based on the actual number of seats and an allowance of 3 square feet per person for all parts of the auditorium or galleries where "standing room" may be provided. By standing room is meant such space in which by law persons may be permitted to stand during any performance. Such measurements are to be exclusive of required aisles, passageways and lobbies. No more than the number so determined and certified by the Building Inspector shall be allowed in such structure at any one time.
No building which at the time of the passage of this ordinance is not in actual use for theatrical or operatic purposes within the meaning of this ordinance may be altered or added to for the purpose of converting the same into a theatre, opera house, or for use by a motion picture show, unless when altered or added to it is made in every respect to conform to the requirements of this ordinance.
The provisions of this ordinance shall not be construed to mean or be made to apply to theatres, opera houses or motion picture shows, within the meaning of this ordinance now erected or for which plans have heretofore been approved by the Building Inspector.
No building hereinbefore described shall be opened to the public until the Building Inspector shall have approved the same in writing as conforming to the requirements of this ordinance, nor until the Chief of the Fire Department shall have certified in writing that all appliances for the extinguishing of fire conform to this ordinance and to the special requirements of the Fire Department, and are in a complete and satisfactory working condition.
Nothing herein contained shall prevent the construction of a thoroughly fireproof building above a fireproof theatre, opera house or motion picture show, providing no part of such fireproof building shall be placed above that portion of any such building which is known as the stage section. The portion containing the theatre, opera house or motion picture show, including all passages, lobbies and other accessories connecting therewith, shall be cut off vertically from such fireproof building by unpierced fire walls of solid masonry not less than 12-inch thick and horizontally by unpierced fireproof floors of strength to safely sustain a live load of 150 pounds per square foot on every superficial foot thereof.
A roof garden or open air auditorium (but no other place of public amusement) may be constructed above a fireproof building used for theatrical or operatic purposes or motion picture show built in conformity with the requirements of this ordinance. Such roof garden or open air auditorium shall have not less than 60 per cent of its total floor area open to the sky without a roof, except that a cover of glass and metal skylight construction may be provided, and no part of its seating floor, or space upon which seats might be placed, shall be at greater height than 90 feet above the level of the curb in the street at the main entrance to the building. The total capacity of such roof garden or open air auditorium shall not exceed 750 persons, figured on. the same basis as that provided elsewhere in this ordinance for the calculation of capacity of theatres or opera houses. The construction of such roof garden or open air auditorium shall be fireproof and shall conform in every way to. the requirements of this ordinance.
The size of entrances and exits, corridors and stairs shall be 50 per cent greater than the corresponding requirements called for in this ordinance for theatres where the orchestra floor is at or about the street level. If an audience is to be assembled in the theatre, opera house or motion picture show at the same time as in the open air auditorium or roof garden constructed above the same, then the provisions for such entrance and exit herewith required for the latter shall be entirely distinct from and in addition to the provisions for exits and entrances, corridors and staircases required for the structure below.
If any structure is built over the ceiling or roof of any building used for a theatre, opera house or motion picture show, the girders, trusses or other metal members supporting said structure shall be protected against fire by at least 4 inches of fireproof material with special provision to reinforce or support it.