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Sapsis Rigging Improves School Safety With Fire Curtain Upgrades

Sapsis Rigging Improves School Safety With Fire Curtain Upgrades

When the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Penn., and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., made renovations involving their theatre fire curtains this summer, they called on the expertise of Sapsis Rigging, Inc.

Sapsis fire curtain installationThe fire curtain in Founders Hall at the Hershey School is a framed unit weighing in at just over 21,000 pounds. As it was more than 50 years old, it was in need of a renovation to bring it up to current building codes and ANSI standards. The project included replacing the asbestos cover on both sides of the frame and installing a new winch and control system. Sapsis Rigging, led by Michael Sapsis, provided the equipment, labor and management to coordinate the renovation team, which included an electrical contractor, asbestos abatement professionals and an EPA air monitoring team.

“The project was reasonably straightforward,” said Bill Sapsis, SRI president, “However, when we're dealing with that kind of weight we triple check everything. A failure in a single piece of equipment could have catastrophic consequences. The project went very smoothly and we finished three days ahead of schedule.”

At Phi Beta Kappa Hall at the College of William and Mary, an emergency masonry repair provided an opportunity to replace the motorized winch and control system for the existing fire curtain. Michael Sapsis and SRI technicians removed the fire curtain and all of its rigging, as well as half of the hall's counterweight rigging system. When the masonry contractor completed the wall repairs, the SRI crew installed the new winch and controls, replaced the counterweight system, and re-installed the fire curtain.

Project leader Michael Sapsis noted, “It's always interesting to work with an outside construction company. They know what they're doing, but they're not used to working in a theatre. The challenge was to get the masonry repairs done properly without inhibiting the fire curtain and stage rigging operations.”

More information on Sapsis Rigging, Inc, is available at

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