Hidden optical linear heat detection in large theaters

Have you ever been to one of the big theaters around the world and spent a little time admiring the often very beautiful auditorium? Wondered how they make the sound work? Or perhaps the scenography? But probably not how the fire detection works or where it is hidden?

In 2019, an investigation took place in the iconic Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. The investigation showed that in case of a fire in the auditorium, it would take too long for the fire and heat to travel to the high ceiling and set off the smoke detectors placed there. This time span could prove crucial for the theater and the people inside of it.

With this investigation as background, work was started to innovate fire detection in auditoriums like the one in the Elbphilharmonie. The concept was built on early fire detection, which meant detecting fire and heat already at floor level. However, detecting fire or heat at floor level posed a challenge; To keep the interior and look of the auditorium, so that visitors would not notice that they were being kept safe by a system in the floor.

A reliable and fast fiber-optic solution that had to be hidden

The solution was installing LIOS DE.TECT 4 mm sensor cables in the floor. Perfectly hidden for the guests at the theater, but still doing their job; to detect any shift in heat in a fast and reliable way. The combination of early, but hidden, detection and a fire extinguishing system, turned to be perfect for early detection, keeping flames down, and minimizing damage.

The concept was provided in The Mehr!Theater in Hamburg and recently in the magnificently equipped baroque auditorium of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus. The auditorium holds an impressive 1200 seats and for the theater, it was important to be able to install the DE.TECT sensor cable, while the seats were still in place in the auditorium.

So while the stage stood idle during the theater’s summer break the auditorium was buzzing with life from workers. When dealing with projects like this, we take pride in finding the best solution for the customer and help them get the best solution. One of the big challenges in this project was not only installing the cable with the seats in place but also finding a good solution to support the 4 mm cable in the floor. With an auditorium full of well-dressed people, a high-heel in the wrong place might, unfortunately, damage the cable. But this challenge was solved by getting specially produced rail with the LIOS DE.TECT sensor cables embedded, keeping both cable and shoes safe.

The 3 LIOS DE.TECT controllers and 1500 meters of sensor cable installed in the Deutsches Schauspielhaus does not only provide the theater a very accurate and reliable fire detection system.  It also provides a solution easily integrated into their fire panel that can be connected to their existing extinguishing system. And more so, a solution that the thousands of people who visit the baroque building every year will never notice.

Chairs are carefully covered to prevent damage while cables are installed in the floor.

Work ongoing at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in the summer of 2020


Cover picture credit: © Katrin Trautner, 2014