The Barn Theatre,
25 Bluehouse Lane, Oxted, Surrey
RH8 0AA.

Tel: 01959 561811
Email: barntheatre


Safe Use of Hazardous Equipment and Substances


Theatre Info


Around the Barn



A Risk Assessment for any of the activities below that require greater than ordinary care must be completed by the Hirer for every show and be available immediately on request by the Duty Manager or any Barn Trustee


This guidance gives basic practical advice on the safe use of weapons, including replicas and deactivated weapons. It is not a substitute for proper instruction and training or an exact interpretation of the law. However, following this advice will help ensure the safety of all concerned.

A weapon is any object designed to inflict bodily harm, including firearms, bows and sharp edged instruments, such as swords and knives.
Firearms are weapons that discharge explosive gases (blanks), pellets by compressed air (air pistols/rifles) or any form of projectile, including shotgun pellets, bullets, musket balls, etc.
A replica weapon (prop) is one designed to look like a weapon but is not capable of inflicting bodily harm. A deactivated weapon is one in which the mechanisms to cause harm have been removed or disabled.

The Armourer is an appointed member of the Hirers stage crew responsible for all weapons and the provision of primary first aid (unless specified otherwise) and will normally either be the person responsible for Properties or the Stage Manager.


  • Use of any weapon can only be done so under the control of the Armourer
  • Precautions must be taken to ensure that the police do not react to an apparent emergency.
  • Appropriate measures must be taken to control exposure to the noise that may be generated by weapons.
  • A designated person must be identified as the individual who will provide first aid in case of an emergency - they must be provided with an appropriately stocked first aid kit.

    The security of weapons is the responsibility of the Armourer:

  • The weapon must be kept secure at all times (including the collection, storage, transportation and safe return between the place of hire/origin, theatre premises and the stage).
  • When not in use the weapon is kept in a secure location with restricted access.

If a weapon is lost or stolen the local police must be informed immediately. No one may be permitted to leave the theatre until the weapon is recovered or the police arrive and have granted permission for those involved to leave.

Hazards associated with firearms are:

  • Flying objects, e.g. shotgun pellets, bullets, arrows.
  • Noise.
  • Delayed firing after misfires.
  • Burns.
  • Inhalation of smoke

N.B. People have been severely injured or killed by blanks.

Hazards associated with firearms and other weapons are:

  • Penetration wounds.
  • Cuts and abrasions.
  • Bruises and concussion.
  • Public distress.
  • Police response to apparent emergency.
  • Theft or loss

  • An Armourer must be present whenever a firearm, arrow, projectile or missile is being discharged.
  • A competent sword fight arranger may be appointed to take responsibility for the safe use and storage of swords (responsibility for storage can be that of the Armourer).

  • Appropriate training is required in the safe use of all types of weapons.
  • A sword fight arranger will provide training and choreography for sequences under their control.

  • If a misfire occurs do not walk in front of the muzzle, as there could be a delay in firing, caused by a slow burn lasting 2 seconds or more. In the event of a misfire always check with the person in charge of the firearm(s).

    Line of Fire
  • People (cast, crew and audience) must be kept out of the line of fire. This includes the use of blanks.

  • A competent person must assess the possibility of exposure to noise above the Peak Action Level.
  • Hearing protection must be used where the risk assessment has identified a risk of hearing damage. Those behind the set should use ear defenders. If needed those on stage may be provided with proprietary earplugs that provide adequate protection.


    When a naked flame is to be used during a performance a member of the stage crew must be positioned in the wings with a fire extinguisher. The flame should be extinguished as soon as possible. If this is done on stage then the item that has been burning, e.g. a cigarette, must be put out and disposed of in a receptacle containing sand.

    At the earliest opportunity the item that was lit must be removed from the theatre premises due to the risk of smouldering embers and checked to ensure that it is completely extinguished and that it is impossible for it to re-ignite.


  • Should never be used at frequencies above 8Hz.
  • Must not be used for more than twenty seconds at a time.
  • If more than one strobe is used they must be synchronised together.
  • Warning notices must be placed in the programme and theatre entrances.


  • Never use until fully heated-up.
  • Parts of the machine get very hot - use gloves and do not store until cooled down.
  • Never leave switched on for long periods nor unattended.
  • Avoid firing directly at people, fabrics or equipment and the operator should always have a clear view.
  • Never use more smoke than necessary and avoid dense clouds forming over an audience - small, frequent puffs, allowing time for dispersal, is safest and most effective technique.
  • Be aware of any smoke detectors that may be set off.
  • Make sure that all stage crew and cast are aware when smoke is going to be used.


  • Store in the special container provided, removing only the amount required at a time - this should be transported and stored in the cool box provided.
  • Use gloves at all times.
  • Ensure the bolier is up to temperature and that there is no risk of scalding.
  • Make sure that all stage crew and cast are aware when dry ice is going to be used.


    Lasers can only be used by a trained operator


    Smoke effect canisters - see under Smoke Machines


  • Handling, storage and control of pyrotechnics shall be the responsibility of the Hirer and shall be in accordance with the ABTT Code of Practice 'Pyrotechnics and Smoke Effects' (copy available on request) except as modified below.
  • Hirers must notify the Theatre Manager prior to the commencement of their hiring of their intention to use pyrotechnics during performances.
  • Only approved equipment, readily available on hire from theatrical suppliers, may be used. The theatre does not provide any special equipment.
  • Only small theatrical flash devices may be used and the pod must be sited at least 30cm from potentially combustible materials, in particular fabrics.
  • One person (for each separately located device) who is trained in the operation of pyrotechnics is to be responsible for setting and firing the device and must be positioned no more than 1.5m from the device, with a clear view of it and the surrounding area.

    Pyrotechnics Disclaimer: There can be no exceptions to the above absolute conditions of use and the Barn Theatre will accept no responsibility in relation to the purchase, storage or use of any pyrotechnics by any person at any time.