View Full Version : extension cords in pro haunts?

08-30-2010, 11:56 PM
I am doing my first haunt and I may have to get inspected by the fire dept. or fire marshall.

Anyone had any problems with the use of extension cords?

08-31-2010, 12:20 AM
Plan on being inspected. As a pro , you really don't want to be on the fire or building depts. bad side. Do yourself a huge favor and do it by the book. And as far as extension cords go, fire inspectors don't like them , they would love to see as much hard wired as possible. At least from what I have experienced .
Dave B

Mad Wax Sculptor
08-31-2010, 01:16 AM
use surge strips. check with the city most inspectors prefer heavy duty surge strips over extension cords and wall warts

freak 'n' stein
08-31-2010, 09:36 AM
Plan on being inspected. As a pro , you really don't want to be on the fire or building depts. bad side. Do yourself a huge favor and do it by the book. And as far as extension cords go, fire inspectors don't like them , they would love to see as much hard wired as possible. At least from what I have experienced .
Dave B

...this is absolutely true! Last season, we had to get rid of all extension cords. We hard wire a lot of the rooms, however, some places we have extension cords for ease of use. We weren't allowed to have cords, power strips or even power strips plugged into other power strips cause that is considered an extension cord! Best of luck to you!!

08-31-2010, 10:45 AM
We've been dealing with a strict Marshall the past 4 years. No cords allowed and all other 120v wire in conduit. This year most of our haunt is low voltage. Much easier and fire marshall friendly.


08-31-2010, 01:19 PM
We were allowed to use metal shielded cable instead of conduit. Saves the huge pain of pulling wire. We had a fire chief that was so anti haunted attraction it was unreal. He was convinced that no matter what safety precautions were in place that all haunts were deathtraps.

Hundred Acres Manor
08-31-2010, 04:28 PM
Hey there,

Ethan from Hundred Acres Manor haunted house here. Just wanted to toss you a few tips with the use of extension cords in your haunt that has helped us out during inspections. Sorry if some of these sound kinda yah..duh lol but I figured I would include as much info as possible for you =)

1) Only use the (typically) orange extension cords with grounds. (Sometimes you can find these in black, green, etc. )

2) Avoid using splices and adapters. Try to avoid the use of the three plug splits etc.

3) If you must split a cord, use a surge protector but keep it safe from weather. Be sure that you do not connect a cord from a surge protector into another surge protector for additional outlets.

4) When using surge protectors keep in mind what you are plugging into them, three foggers are a big no-no.

5) Avoid wrapping or coiling live extensions. When in doubt, purchase an extension that fits the length that you need. Over shooting can be a trip or fire hazard.

6) Never use any sort of lamp cord (brown extension with out grounds).

7) Avoid extension to extension connections. This leaves space for potential water entry and shorts.

8) Check all of your cords prior to inspector to assure that they are properly secured to a surface with wire staples to they don't shift during operation.

9) Cover all outdoor connections (even if it is outdoor extensions) to prevent shorts.

I also strongly recommend the use of MiniSpots they are a cheap and very effective form of lighting that is all low voltage and much much safer than any traditional stage light. Last season we replaced all of our lighting with them and our inspector nearly gave me a hug lol.

In conclusion, extensions are never entirely avoidable but try to minimize your use and go directly to the wall outlet when possible and your inspector will be all smiles. Hope that helps a bit. Have a happy and safe haunting season.

Best Wishes,

Ethan Turon


08-31-2010, 04:44 PM
Excellent advice Ethan! Getting thru an inspection can be a nerve racking experience. You never know what kind of hoop will get tossed up for you to jump thru. Good luck.
Dave B

08-31-2010, 05:52 PM
Ethan is right an all accounts there. When we did ours last year, we had to use all orange extension cords (then again we are located outside).

08-31-2010, 06:14 PM
Indoor and outdoor venues are completely different creatures. I have done both. I would hate to have to bury all electric and follow the NEC ( national electric code) for an outdoor haunt. Indoors they tend to put more restrictions on.
Dave B

09-01-2010, 11:48 AM
Our company builds several haunted houses in the Denver market. By the book, orange extension cords are only to be used for temporary power situations. If you are building the house just for the season, you can probably talk your inspectors into letting you use them.

We make a habit of using power strips (the pop fuse kind) on all our power runs. NEVER plug a cord into another cord - the cords can become separated at the point that you plug them together and become a short hazard. There was an earlier comment about running power from one power strip to another, I don't know why that wouldn't be OK power-wise, as both runs have fuses on them and if overloaded, one or both would trip - severing the problem.

One big issue with the new codes is having a system in place to turn off all your sound and strobe lights in the event of an emergency. We power all our sound and strobes through a single point and when our fire system trips, all those items are shut off and the emergency lighting comes on. That has been really well received by the fire departments - in fact - last year it left the Fire Chief speechless.

booscare - Denver haunted houses (http://hauntedratings.com)

09-05-2010, 01:25 PM
They don't want you plugging a power strip into another power strip because it encourages people to plug in more than the circuit or wire can handle. They get kind of particular about that sort of thing.

11-13-2010, 02:42 AM
we have ~30 yrs haunt experience in California, notoriously the worst state in the country for building codes and fire marshals that work for the S.S. In addition to producing haunts I have been a lighting designer in professional theater for many years and would put on quite a lighting show in all the haunts. However the fire marshals hated all the hot, high voltage, dangerous lights both indoors and out. Our solution was the new Ether-Lights system which has been adopted by many haunts this last year as well as many theme parks. It's easy enough that quite literally children who can't operate a TV remote can set lights but versatile enough that theme parks are scooping them up. The greatest thing...in most states anything below 90v doesn't get inspected by the fire marshal. They see one extension cord then from the point of the hub on only low voltage lights that are cool to the touch and go on their merry way. Not only do you massivle cut down on your power distribution needs, get rid of dangerous light fixtures, get a UL listed power supply (the fire marshal loves that), but your show will look better and be easier and faster to set up and modify. If you've got questions about them check out the website and don't hesitate to call with questions.

www.ETHEREALFX.com (http:// www.ETHEREALFX.com)