Fire Permit: Response from Captain Matthews

I spoke with Captain Matthews at the fire department yesterday (4.23.09) in response to the letters I sent. The good news is we have the permit for this event.

The not so good news is that they have decided we need a 15 foot barrier from the stage on ALL sides. What this means is that where, in the past, we’ve had people coming right up to the edge of the stage and foot of the stairs on the sides and on the corners in the front, we can not do that this year. There will be 10 additional feet from the bottom of the stairs on all sides.

I’m bummed about this because it means we can’t really make eye contact with anyone and it dramatically reduces the space where people can be for the show == smaller capacity to accommodate good views for the show. However, we will have chairs, so it is my hope that with the chairs in place, we will be able to accommodate what I anticipate being a phenomenally large crowd. 

With respect to the request for the new criteria in writing, Captain Matthews had this to say:

I can’t give you that information until the fire marshal has an opportunity to review the guidelines. They will eventually be on our web site.

When further pressed for a specific time, she said she could not make any guarantees because the Fire Marshal of the SFFD (Barbara Schultheis — 415.558.3200) had to review the guidelines that are being created, though she eventually said this:

It will probably be in place within the next month or two.

I have heard from multiple people in the SFFD that Ms. Schultheis is not in favor of fire dancing at all and she might be making a movement to eliminate it altogether in the city of San Francisco. Obviously, this does not make me happy. I will be contacting Ms. Schultheis next week after the show is complete to explain to her that if people can’t get permits they will renegade and this is probably not something anyone wants.

Check back here for more updates.