Building Safety Month: Earth Wind & Fire & Outdoor Bleachers

Outdoor Bleacher Clean Up

We talked previously about cleaning the bearing surface for your telescopic bleachers, but how often are you cleaning up under your outdoor bleachers?

We’re taking the perspective of Safe and Sanitary with this one. You want to make sure your understructure is free of combustibles including unruly vegetation and stored materials.

If you do have stored materials that are combustible, you want to be sure to have proper sprinkler systems in place to prevent a fire from starting, spreading, and harming your patrons. Remember, a disaster like this is less noticeable when the grandstands are full of a cheering crowd and with smells of summer and fall mixed in; smoke is not as easily detected. Taking the proper precaution to keep patrons safe is a priority.

Fallen leaves may appear harmless, but they’re quick to catch fire and spread should someone drop something through the stands. They should be cleared out as often as possible to prevent a fire hazard as well as to prevent moisture build up after a downpour.

Vegetation under the bleachers trap in moisture, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mosquitos while also causing wooden ground bucks on portable bleachers to deteriorate.

While you’re likely not thinking of your outdoor bleachers while staying warm inside, the winter weather does have an impact on them. Our weather here in Ohio has been pretty unpredictable, torrential downpours one day and snowstorms with high winds the next then bam, it’s sunny and 58 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All this to say, make sure your bearing surface is free of standing water. A block of ice surrounding concrete supports acts as a vise, ultimately deteriorating the concrete.

With all of this, you’ll want to make sure your bleachers are always on a level service. If portable bleachers do not have properly installed or damaged mud sills/ground bucks or if foundation column supports are damaged, the unit may sink and/or become unstable.

Earth, Wind, and Fire it’s not just a great 70’s band, it’s what impacts your bleachers through the seasons.

 

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Safety in Operation: Telescopic Bleachers

Telescopic Bleachers

Quick, show of hands – how many of you were at the original telescopic bleacher demonstration for the bleachers in your gymnasium?

In a group of 10, we’re lucky to have two hands raise up, sometimes one. This is by no fault of your own but it is our goal to make sure that you have all the information you need to safely operate your telescopic bleacher unit. This is one of many reasons we offer free Gym Safety Sessions, so we can not only review operation but we can also answer questions pertaining specifically to you and your equipment. While the below information isn’t as comprehensive as a Safety Session, we do want to point out some helpful tips.

Opening Your Bleachers:

Pendant Control

Get Your Pendant Control.
Seems a little obvious, right? But I say this because only Authorized Personnel should be operating your bleachers, this means that your Pendant Control should be stored in a safe place that only those authorized can gain access to it. Opening and closing the bleachers may seem like a simple task, and to a point, it is – but you want to make sure you know what to watch for and that you’re taking every safety and operational precaution into consideration.

Before operation, you want to be sure that the area is clear of people, debris, and dust (see cleaning under the bleachers). You’ll want to check under the bleachers as well as the area the bleachers are opening to.

Once you’re sure the area is clear and you’re plugged in ready to go, keep your eye on the bleacher unit to be sure it’s opening correctly and that all banks are opening together, not skewed across the gym floor. Make sure you bleacher opens completely before detaching the Pendant Control.

Take the Pendant Control with you once you’ve opened the unit fully. Even if you plan to close them again, the last thing we want to happen is that you go under the bleachers and someone closes them not realizing you’re there.

When you’re done, put the Pendant Control back in its stored location.

Additional Set Up:

Aisle Rails

If you don’t have Auto-Rotating Aisle Rails (you should!), you’ll want to make sure every aisle rail is turned and properly secured for the safety of your patrons. A loose rail can be a major hazard for someone trying to catch their balance or worst case, some have pulled them out to use against another patron.

Floor to First Row Aisle Steps, if you don’t have them hinged (again, you should and we can do that for you!) you want to make sure to install each one properly before use. We’ve heard the debate several times, “but they’re a hazard!” Well, no. They’re not. The reality is, according to the International Building Code, if your bleachers were manufactured with removable first row aisle steps – code compliance dictates that you must use them.

Bleacher Aisle StepsThese steps are designed to maintain varying height levels of steps to reduce trip/fall hazards because they were happening frequently (without the steps in place). If you have varying step heights on your unit and someone isn’t paying attention when they are walking up or down the steps, it is likely they could miscalculate their step and trip or fall. This trip and fall hazard increases your liability risk!

Flex Row Operation. If you have Hussey Seating Company Bleachers, be sure you know the proper way to open and close Flex Rows. Hussey has a great Flex Row video along with several tutorials here: Hussey Seating Company

If you have a Safety-End Closure Curtain (they’re great for school spirit AND more importantly restricting access to the understructure of your bleacher unit), you want to make sure it’s securely attached.

For many, this is all of the set up you need, for others you may have additional guard rails or accessories. Make sure they properly installed and all hardware is tight.

Closing Your Bleachers:

Telescopic BleachersThis is where you backtrack. Make sure your aisle steps are removed and stored. Most aisle rails can be left in the proper in-use position or you can turn them. If you’re turning them, again make sure all hardware is tightened. Get your Pendant Control from its stored location. Check under the bleachers for debris and dust that may impact properly closing your bleacher unit. It may seem impossible for things to fall through – but you’ll be surprised at what you might find. Check the surrounding area so that it is clear for closing. As you are closing the unit, be sure that, again, your eye is on the unit and that it is closing consistently.

Warning Signs Telescopic BleachersWe’re noticing more and more districts and facilities are putting up reminders regarding operation of their bleacher units to keep safety at the forefront. By focusing on safety, you’ll also be focused on operation which will increase the longevity of your equipment.

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Chippewa School District | Chippewa Jr./Sr. High School

Project Name: Chippewa School District Owner: Chippewa Jr./Sr. High School Architect: Hasenstab Architects Construction Manager: C.T. Taylor Construction Scope: Materials & Installation of Educational Casework, Lab Casework, Telescopic Bleachers, and Auditorium Seating Completion: August 2018 The February 2019 edition of Properties Magazine featured Chippewa School District’s new Jr./Sr. High School, describing the new build as a showcase for the community. The new building is a…

Marlinton Local Schools | High School Bleacher Replacement

Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers

 

In May 2018, Farnham Equipment Company’s Maintenance Solutions Team performed an indoor Telescopic Bleacher Inspection on Marlington High School’s 57-year-old wooden bleachers and found more than 30 violations, including several improper upgrades.

The major issues were handrail weight limits and a lack of enclosure, which made it a safety concern for the district’s insurance provider. - The Alliance Review

Less than one month later, the school board voted to replace the bleachers with new Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers with the intention of having them installed prior to the first home volleyball game.

The Dukes’ new telescopic bleachers reawakened the gymnasium’s school spirit with orange guard rails and aisle rails, a signature logo “M,” and a custom Safety End Closure Curtain, a far cry from the 1961 wooden bleachers.

On behalf of the Marlington Local School District, we would like to commend you and your company on a job well done. Our new High School bleachers are outstanding and have exceeded our expectations. The order was put in later then desired but you and your company pulled it all together to have us up and running by our first volleyball game. Of all the projects, we have done at Marlington, we have to say this was the easiest and best run operation.

Further, we would like to pay special thanks to your install crew, led by Joe Robinson. They came in early Monday morning and were out by Thursday afternoon with the job complete. Joe also always took the time to stop and talk as we brought through our donors and board members.

The final product is amazing and please feel free to send potential buyers our way, we would love to show off our product. - Steve Miller, Marlinton High School Athletic Director

1961 Bleachers
Hussey Telescopic Bleachers
Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers
Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers
Hussey Seating Company Telescopic Bleachers

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Top 5 Preventative Maintenance Tips: Outdoor Bleachers

Outdoor Bleacher Repair

 

Don't wait until you can see your face through your structural supports - add our Top 5 Preventative Maintenance Tips to your seasonal checklist!

  1. Structure: Check for visual signs of structural damage including Bent and Damaged Supports and Hardware, Erosion, and Rust.
Outdoor Bleachers: Rust
Outdoor Bleacher Damaged Supports
Outdoor Bleacher Rust
Outdoor Bleachers Erosion
Outdoor Bleachers Rust

4. Hardware: Tighten loose hardware and replace missing hardware. It's important to turn the wrench on every one!

Outdoor Bleachers Hardware
Outdoor Bleachers Hardware
Outdoor Bleachers Hardware

3. Seats & Endcaps: Replace missing and damaged seats and endcaps, tighten all hardware, and make necessary repairs.

Outdoor Bleachers Seats
Outdoor Bleachers Seats

2. Clean Up: See our previous post for more clean up tips!

Outdoor Bleachers Clean Up
Outdoor Bleachers Leaves
Outdoor Bleacher Clean Up

1. Annual Inspection & Seasonal Checks: This will always be our number one recommendation for safety and preventative maintenance!

The Ohio Building Code requires an annual inspection for safety and operation. We add that you should be consistent in seasonal checks due to the impact the outdoor elements have on your bleacher unit, specifically the expansion and contraction of aluminum that happens during the winter months.

In the Ohio Building Code 1029:
1029.1.1: Bleachers. Bleachers, grandstands and folding and telescopic seating, that are not building elements, shall comply with Chapters 1-4 of ICC 300. Referenced as, ICC 300-12, ICC Standard on Bleachers, Folding and Telescopic Seating within the Ohio Administrative Code, 4101:1-35-01 References.

Within the ICC-300, you'll find in Chapter 1:

105.2 Yearly inspection required states:
The owner shall cause all bleachers, folding and telescopic seating, and grandstands to be inspected at least once a year in order to verify that the structure is maintained in compliance with the provisions of this standard. All folding and telescopic seating shall also be inspected to evaluate compliance with the manufacturer’s installation and operational instructions, including an inspection during the opening and closing of such seating.

Outdoor Bleachers
Outdoor Bleachers

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We've developed a reference guide for your convenience!

Ayersville Local Schools | New K-12 School

 

Project Name: Ayersville K-12 School
Owner: Ayersville Local Schools
Architect: Garmann Miller Architects & Engineers
Construction Manager: Shook Touchstone XIII, LLC
Scope: Materials & Installation of Educational Casework, Lab Casework, Telescopic Bleachers, and Athletic Equipment
Completion: August 2018

“Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from flying,” is sprawled across the halls at the new Ayersville K-12 School, occupied by students fall of 2018. Farnham Equipment Company has been a sub-consultant on numerous Garmann Miller projects all with the same approach, on their Jan 11, 2019 blog post, Doug Rentz of Garmann Miller shared:

 “For education clients, its designers collaborate with school districts to deliver fresh, flexible spaces. From modern seating options to multi-use rooms with state-of-the-art lighting and audio/video functions, GMAE’s designers are redefining how today’s students learn.”

As part of our scope, Farnham Equipment Company provided and installed an inclusive package featuring Stevens Industries Education and Music Casework, ICI Scientific’s Lab Casework, Brodart Contract Furniture Library Shelving, Hussey Seating Company’s Telescopic Bleachers, Performance Sports Systems Athletic Equipment, and Diversified Woodcrafts Vocational Shop Equipment.

 

Ayersville Local Schools | New K-12 School

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Preventative Maintenance: The How-To & Why

 

Given the right care, your telescopic bleachers will last generations, but it takes effort, care and knowledge on your part. Just like your car needs an oil change, your telescopic bleacher needs preventative maintenance to ensure proper operation.

We mentioned previously that our number one care tip is cleaning under the bleachers. Here are a few others to add to your list:

Hardware: Loose and missing hardware. This one is pretty basic, you want to make sure the hardware throughout your unit isn’t damaged, rusted, missing, or loose. This goes for the understructure, aisle rails, guardrails, seat components and so on. Your hardware should be looked at on a regular basis during normal operating procedures. If you see something wrong you should fix it or have it fixed to prevent additional damage to the components that it is holding together.

Missing or Damaged Row Locks: Row locks are an important component of all telescopic bleachers. They are needed to prevent one row from closing before it is intended to be closed to stay in the proper sequence. There are many people out there that work on bleachers that say it is ok to just take the row locks off if they get damaged if the bleacher is powered. This is not the case. The typical damage is from unauthorized people going under the bleachers, tripping on the row locks and bending them, causing additional problems. This also happens to some manufacturers’ interlocking guide rods. When you catch them with your foot and they pull out, the structural frames are no longer interlocked together and it creates a problem with guidance and structural support.

Damaged Seats: Cracked, damaged, and loose seating can cause an unstable seating surface for your patrons and can cause a cut hazard with sharp edges and splinters. Baseballs can break the faces of Wood Planks/Riser Boards and the faces of Plastic Seat Modules. People stomping on the tops of seats can break holes in them also. When either one is broken, there are sharp edges that can injure your spectators. These items should be repaired. Loose hardware on seats can also cause someone to fall resulting in personal injury and liability.

It’s also worth mentioning:

Bent Cantilever Frame Arms: Are your bleachers sagging? Are you having trouble opening and closing your system? Your cantilever frame arms being bent or damaged is one of the most likely causes. Your bleachers are installed to last the lifetime of your facility with proper maintenance and care. Part of that maintenance and care is making sure that your bleachers are used properly. We’re not saying that everyone has to sit quietly in the stands and limit the shifting of their weight though. Our bleachers are installed for the most fanatic fan – in the open position. In every O&M manual, you’ll see a statement similar to this one:

“Do not allow people to climb, sit, or stand on tiers other than the Flex-Row modules of the MAXAM system while closed.”  And, “Do not leave any section or bank open without the Flex-Row modules being open at the aisle locations.”

– Hussey MAXAM Owners & Maintenance Manual.

 

Students and patrons climbing and/or sitting on the top tier of the bleachers while they are in the closed position is one of the main ways cantilever frame arms get damaged.  Another common problem we have seen is when people are sitting on the upper tiers in the closed position, they tend to want to jump down to the lower levels. This not only can be very dangerous for the person doing the jumping, but very bad for your cantilever arms and your bleacher decks. It will also be costly to repair since misuse of the system is not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

What does it impact? Cantilever frame arms are vital to the life of your bleachers. They attach to the main frame essentially holding up each bleacher deck which makes it easier to open and close your system. If they start to bend or drag, the bleacher decks will start to rest on top of one another causing unnecessary friction during operation and sometime stopping operation all together and causing a continuous flow of premature wear to spread through your seating system.

What to do? If you don’t already have warning labels or signs in place stating the bleachers should not be occupied in the fully or partially closed position, you should add them. If you are in need of these warning labels, you can contact us and we would be happy to get you what you need!

It’s best to be sure anyone using your system: Athletic Directors, Coaches, Maintenance, etc., is aware of these rules and guidelines because what may look like a cool place for students to sit could end up costing much more.

If you need only a small section of seating, you can use your Flex-Rows if you have them, otherwise you should open the entire bank. You also have the option for a secondary locking system for partial seating.

For example, with a 15-row bleacher, you can set a secondary locking system on the bleachers to open only 8 rows of seating and still be locked safely in the open position. When in this position, you can incorporate a top closure to cover the seating rows that are still in the closed position to prevent people from climbing, sitting, standing and storing things on telescopic bleachers while in the closed position. See how Botkins Local School District does this with their telescopic bleachers.

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Telescopic Bleachers: Our Number One Tip for Care

 

There is a reason we gave away popcorn samples at all of our trade shows this year – each one had a reminder inside to clean under the bleachers, the number one preventative maintenance tip we share. Whether its food, soda, or dust and debris, all have an impact on the operation of your telescopic bleachers.

Known as the bearing surface, the space underneath your telescopic bleachers in both the open and closed position. Often, cleaning up the mess after a big game means to close the bleachers and clean the floor where debris fell through. This is a good start, but you have to also beware of what lingers on the bearing surface where the bleachers sit in a closed position. This is where dust and debris tend to collect.

What Does it Impact?
The most obvious reason to clean under the bleacher is for sanitary reasons, from food, soda, wrappers, and dust this is a breeding ground for bacteria. The sometimes not so obvious reason: It can do some major damage to your understructure. The dust and debris can cause a domino effect with damage to the drive wheels that will impair tracking and alignment and this type of damage isn’t covered under your warranty because it is 100% preventable.

When you are closing power bleachers, row one goes under row two and pushes both under row three and then pushes all three under row four and so on getting heavier as they go. Once you have all of the rows closed under the others, except the last row or two, is when the bleachers begin losing their traction and need your assistance to close all the way. This is where the dust is causing the drive wheels to lose that traction. Now if it happens much before that, your wheels have picked up too much dust and are spinning in it creating a glazed smooth drive wheel instead of a gripping tire.

Your bleachers automatically realign themselves by closing completely and opening completely. When the bleachers loose traction and do not close completely and they are then opened, they do not come out straight. Coming back out, the portion that did not close all of the way has a head start and is ahead of the other sections that did close. This can, and does, bend the structural components and can even break them to the point that they need to be replaced. Note: A bleacher inspection that does not include the inspecting person opening and closing your bleachers is not a complete inspection.

But our bleachers are wall-to-wall, no gaps more than 4-inches, and we can only access this area through our access hatch…
You would be amazed at what can fall through tiny openings. Even though unauthorized access to the understructure is prevented with wall-to-wall bleachers, dust still gathers and will build up on your drive wheels.

What to do:
Make cleaning the bearing surface part of your routine schedule and clean under the bleachers in the open position, clean where the bleachers sit in the closed position, then close the bleachers. Don’t cheat and close the bleachers then flip up the skirtboard and sweep between everything, this will leave more dust and debris where you do not want it the most.

Have Reverse Fold Bleachers?
David DeCan, Lead Service Technician shares best practices when it comes to cleaning the drive system and under the bleachers on a reverse fold telescopic bleacher.

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Outdoor Bleachers & Grandstands: Buying Options

 

Buying options have expanded over the last several years and now more than ever, buying through a purchasing agent is the most common way to go. SturdiSteel, our featured Outdoor Bleacher vendor holds a contract through TIPS (The Interlocal Purchasing System). Based in Texas, TIPS does the work for their members, Education, Government, and Non-Profit Organizations, across the United States, following state guidelines and purchasing laws for each state. Membership for you is free while Awarded Vendors go through a rigorous RFQ/RFP process.

SturdiSteel’s contract includes Design, Manufacture, and Install of Grandstands, Bleachers, Stadium Seating and Press boxes.

Few districts still opt for the traditional RFP (Request for Proposal Process). Taking this route, your request would include a general scope and intent of the project as well as evaluation criteria.  In this scenario for an Outdoor Bleacher Replacement Project, a prospective Design Build firm would then reply with their interpretation of the project including design, scope, scheduling, and budgeting as well as their qualifications and references.  Design Build projects work best when there is a relatively narrow project scope (i.e. replacement of auditorium seating or new grandstands).

The benefit of using Design Build for product procurement are numerous and include:

Substantially shorter project duration – Simply advertise the RFP, make the Best Value Selection and the project is underway!

Substantially lower the overall project cost.

No need to hire an architect up front because you’re soliciting for both design and construction services. This lessens the upfront work load and gives you more options from which to choose the final design.

No longer have to make your decision based solely on low-bid pricing. The Design Build option and Ohio Construction Reform (OCR) allow you to choose based on Best Value Selection criteria which is defined as, “a process used in competitive negotiated contracting to select the most advantageous offer by evaluating and comparing factors of both price and qualifications.” You set the criteria which are most important for the project (i.e. quality, duration, cost, features, etc.)

What this also means is that you are no longer tied to the traditional conceive-design-bid-construct project delivery model.  You now have the option to let the proposals come to you and to make the Best Value Selection based on your most important criteria.

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More information on TIPS

More information on OFCC & Buying Options

The Fighting Scots | From Maintenance to Replacement

The College of Wooster

Making the Impossible Possible: Challenge Accepted

Timken Gym Before & After

It took 10 years.

In 2008 Farnham Equipment Company’s Maintenance Solutions Team quoted and performed the first of many seating inspections and repairs at The College of Wooster Timken Gym. Over the span of 10 years, Jim Davis would contact FEC to come back for repairs with a major overhaul in 2012 that led to the start of budget planning for a new seating system that wouldn’t come to fruition until 2017.

The existing seating was installed in the late 60’s, a unique set up with the main seating bleacher bank split/separated in two banks with the intention of creating two separate courts and gym spaces.

The freestanding reverse fold bleacher for rows 1-13 was 7’ deep by 12’h by 104’ long and separated the two gyms. Behind the freestanding reverse fold bank was the massive wall attached bank for rows 14-30 at 24’ row spacing. The bank was 8’d by 28’h by 104’l. When opened, the wall attached bank would meet up with the freestanding reverse fold to create a single bank of seating. This very large bank would take a lot of time, manpower and prayers to open and close due to the size and age of the structure.

The seating opposite the large bleacher bank was typical seating. A recessed bank 13 rows at 30” row spacing by 104’l with wood backs on the main court and another 14 Rows at 24” row spacing by 104’l freestanding reverse fold in the balcony.

May 2017, discussion began and challenges presented themselves. First was to design the largest freestanding reverse fold bleacher bank intended to divide the two gyms and match the height for the cross aisle. Hussey Seating Company would not engineer two separate bleacher banks like the existing seating and accepted the challenge to truly make this seating system work for the College of Wooster. The final design was a 22-Row system. Rows 1-14 have a custom rise (to meet the balcony door way height, with 33” row spacing, Metro and Contour seating, a 6’6” cross aisle, then rows 15-22 at 26 row spacing with CourtSide Seating, for an Open dimension of 58’7”deep, by 104’l. The top seat is at 18’2” with an over height of 22’3”. The closed dimension is 10’9”d. To help reduce weight, we designed the back panel to have a 10’ x 104’ banner above the 10’ plywood back. A local company manufactured the “FIGHTING SCOTS” banner for us.

Challenge Accepted. To date this is the largest freestanding reveres fold bleacher bank in Hussey Seating history and only takes one person a few minutes to open and set up.

Opposite the reverse fold freestanding bleacher bank we matched existing seating on the main court with a wall attached recess bank with 13-Rows of Metro Chairs and Contour backrest at 33” row spacing transitioning to the balcony to a 14-Row 26 Row spacing with CourtSide seats. Both banks at 104’ in length.

Next, Delivery. In 2010 the college built the Scot Recreation center next to the Timken Gym, closing off direct access into the gym main court level. Mike Kirk, Project Manager for Farnham had to get creative with a solution for delivery that would include a crane to lower all the main floor material into the patio/pit area emergency exits. But there wasn’t direct access there either – the delivery truck would need to park on the street with a hillside barrier to the sidewalk. Installation was phased in collaboration with the gym’s floor replacement.

Challenge Accepted. Plan in Place.

Pat Kindelin took some time to meet with Jeffrey Bricker, Scot Center Operations Manager, see below for what he has to say about the refreshing face of Timken Gymnasium.

A big Thank You to Jay Carter and Miranda Harman at Hussey Seating for all their help in designing and pricing out the new seating system. It was a complicated project with many details that needed to be worked out. Thanks to Dave Farnham for his special attention to all the details in this project that made it all come together

The overall team work at Farnham Equipment Company with Rocky Baker and the Service Department, Kami Wernimont for helping put this video together and to Mike Kirk and his team of installers made for complete team effort for a project 10 years in the making for Farnham Equipment Company.

View the full Gallery Here:

The College of Wooster | Timken Gymnasium Bleacher Replacement