Special Effects Permits

A Special Effects permit shall be obtained prior to the use of any special effects in UMW Venues and govern UMW Staff/Faculty/Students in their use. No outside performing entities will be authorized to use special effects or any type of pyrotechnics equipment.  These procedures are consistent with other Commonwealth of Virginia agencies utilizing such equipment and recommendations from fire protection officials. For the purpose of this policy, the use of any of the following  shall be considered special effects and use will be limited to these devices:

  • Smoke and haze machines
  • Fog machines
  • Fog induction systems
  • Dry Ice
  • Lasers
  • Strobe lights
  • gun powder (Use may require additional permitting from State Fire Marshal’s Office)
  • Stage weapons and firearms
  • Any large combustible set design requiring the use of fire retardant applications
  • No other types of pyrotechnics are permitted to be utilized in UMW Venues.

The following procedure will be utilized when obtaining a Special Effects Permit

  • Notice of  no less than 2 weeks (14 calendar days) in advance of the use of special effects. Successfully meeting the listed requirements will cause a Special Effects permit to be issued for use during designated performances only.  A blanket permit for the use of these devices in any venue will not issued. Any new production requires a new permit request be submitted.
  • A pretesting of the equipment installed and in the location as it will be utilized in the production to determine its effect on fire detection equipment. This test will be conducted for University EM and Safety staff by the applicant.
  • The product used for the haze, fog or other effect involving a chemical must have a Safety Data Sheet submitted with the request for permit (comply with OSHA Hazard Communication Standard). The product may also require a specification sheet and/or cut sheet for system generation and safe application.
  • The use of Special Effects require signage and postings for the safety and possible health hazards to certain effected individuals, signage will be approved by UMW Safety and Production Managers. It will be the Venue Managers and the Production Managers responsibility to post any/all signs.
  • In the event of an activation, steps may be taken to include design or location changes of the device or disabling single devices for use during a production performance. The fire alarm system will not be completely disabled for any performance. The fire system also can not be altered or redesigned with fans or devices, causing them  to not report as designed. Fire alarm changes will be handled by The Office of Emergency Management and Safety.
  • A fire watch will be put in place by theater department/venue staff to meet criteria established by the Statewide Fire Prevention Code. Written logs of fire watches will be kept per code requirement.
  • The amount of fog or haze may not obscure fire exits or exist signage. This places the University in violation of The Statewide Fire Prevention Code.
  • The Department requesting the permit will be responsible for all expenses incurred for additional manpower or equipment if request is approved and above is required. Such as fire watches, fire alarm technicians, contractor support.
  • The application form will be submitted online and is found below. The Office of Emergency Management and Safety will contact the submitter. Further questions can be directed to the Department of Emergency Management & Safety at (540) 654-2108.

Special Effects Permit Application

Required for use of Special Effects, to include fog and haze machines in University Theater venues

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