In what appeared to be a bout of unfortunate timing, a high school musical director's request to use pyrotechnics came minutes after the high school's fire alarm system sounded.
On Tuesday, the Bangor Area School Board considered a request from organizers of the high school's production of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" for permission to use a pyrotechnics display during the upcoming performances on March 3-5.
Musical Director Joseph DiMinico said organizers were hoping to spruce up the high school performance with a dazzling display of sparks during the show.
Rehearsals have been under way without the fireworks but new money from a recent pancake breakfast fundraiser spurred organizers to try to find a creative way to enhance the play.
However, board members expressed concern about the safety and liability of having fire and sparks in the high school theater.
Ronald Baker, the district director of buildings and grounds, said he spoke to Mount Bethel Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Chris Finan. Baker said Finan told him he was willing to look at what play organizers were planning but was not likely to approve any open flames or sparklers.
School Board President Michael Goffredo, who is also chief of Columbia Fire Co. No. 1 in Roseto, said the risk was too great to allow the pyrotechnics, especially with reports of fires igniting at rock concerts and other shows in recent years.
"There's been so many horror stories lately," Goffredo said.
Minutes before the board meeting, the high school's fire alarm sounded. DiMinico said he believed the system was triggered when a fog machine for the show was being tested.
DiMinico said the school has used a fog machine, which is not part of the proposed pyrotechnics display, in previous shows without causing the alarm to sound. It is unclear why the alarm responded to the fog this time.
Goffredo said the air ducts in the theater are equipped with sensors that may be triggered by fire or smoke.
"Unless you block off the duct system, you are going to set off the whole system," board member Toni Lynch said.
The idea of flames in the high school theater would be an "unequivocal problem," Lynch said.
Goffredo told DiMinico there would not be a vote to give him permission for the pyrotechnics.
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Though they were not inclined to grant the fire display, members of the board praised show organizers for their efforts.
"Don't be discouraged," board member Bob Cartwright said. "Everyone loves the shows."
John Best is a freelance writer. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.
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