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.

Have Questions?

Let's schedule a Free Gym Safety Session

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.

Want to Learn More?

Schedule your FREE Gym Safety Session

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.

Want to Learn More?

Schedule your FREE Gym Safety Session

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

Where There is a Will, There is a Way: Telescopic Bleacher Buying Options

I’m sure if we were to sit down with you and discuss your current telescopic bleacher situation, the first thing you would say is, “Well, that sounds nice, but we don’t have the funds for that.” Capital improvement projects are an investment, and investments take time so if you don’t already have funds set aside, have a donor prospect or dedicated fundraising team with time to prepare, your options may seem limited.

Seem is the key word.

You do have options.

You can streamline the process so it’s more efficient. Rather than soliciting with your own Request for Proposals (RFP), Sourcewell, previously NJPA, is a national cooperative purchasing agent that has already done the work for you. Going with a purchasing agent like Sourcewell means they’ve already vetted out the bidding process to bring you the best value to fit your needs.

“Cooperative purchasing is “Procurement conducted by, or on behalf of, one or more Public Procurement Units” as defined by the American Bar Association Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments.
Sourcewell's analysts streamline the procurement process by developing RFPs and IFBs for national, competitive solicitations that meet or exceed local requirements. Our rigorous process is continually refined to best meet member needs and allows us to offer exceptional products from nationally acclaimed vendors.” - www.sourcewell-mn.gov

Hussey Seating Company, our featured Telescopic Bleacher provider, is an approved vendor for Sourcewell providing you access to the best value pricing for more than just you bleachers, including:

  • Seating Solution Design Services
  • Telescopic Bleacher Seating
  • Telescopic Platform Seating
  • Stadium Seating
  • Arena Seating
  • Fixed Auditorium Seating
  • Clarin by husseyseating Portable Chairs
  • Grandstand Seating Planks & Covers
  • Safety Inspections, Parts & Services

Did you see that? Even Safety Inspections, Parts & Services is on this list – giving you the advantage of combined buying power and the ability to cost effectively do your due diligence we mentioned in our previous post.

Another option: Grants

The grants we hear about most often stem from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Grants. If your bleachers are unsafe, for either you (staff and set up team) or your patrons, you’ll want to look here and see what is possible. The application process can rigorous, but it can be helpful when it comes to replacement, upgrades, and repair.

“Wait, what does a device to move bleachers have to do with safety and security?
Turns out the rules for the grant program were written to include a broad definition of “safety” for students and employees.
So not only are metal detectors and trauma kits covered, but also floor-cleaning machines, cutting/slicing equipment and “safe” food fryers.” - What is ‘safety’?, The Columbus Dispatch

So what does a device to move bleachers have to do with safety?

Bleachers with an Integral Power System have the advantage over manually operated bleachers by not only reducing damages to your equipment but they provide a more safe way for your staff to open and close the bleachers. There are no ergonomically correct bleacher operating moves for manual bleachers. You’re usually walking backwards pulling when opening and pushing all bent over with your head down when closing with no way to keep your back straight during either. Regardless of the type of bleachers, you have to bend and pull and bend and push.  When you are pulling the bleachers open or pushing them closed, you end up reaching the open or closed position by getting a big slam to a halt, causing impact to your back, legs, arms, shoulders and neck as well as the possibility of crushed fingers or smashing your face into them from slipping and falling just to name a few.

There have been some unique devices that have been fabricated and provided here and there but nothing reduces injury hazards like adding integral power to your bleachers. Just a reminder, only properly trained personnel should operate the bleachers to further keep safety at the forefront.

Want More Information?

Drop us a line today for a free quote!

Budgeting for Renovations: Telescopic Bleachers

Maybe budgeting for new telescopic bleachers just isn’t in the plan for 2019 but renovations are necessary for both your staff and your students.

Where Do You Start?

The best place to start is to take inventory of what you have with a complete Telescopic Seating Inspection for Code Compliance and Safety. An inspection will give insight on the severity of code compliant and safety issues as well as what possible upgrades you could make to your seating. If you truly are interested in upgrades, make sure to let your technician know so they can provide options that best suit your needs and answer any questions while they’re on site.

Another item to take into consideration is the overall age of your seating unit as well as the make and model and how easily it can be upgraded while keeping the maximum seating capacity. For instance, if you have an older unit without dedicated aisle and aisle rails, in order to upgrade your unit to include these items, you will lose seating capacity but you will upgrade in safety and code compliance (also decreasing liability).

What is the general footprint of your existing bleachers? Do you have room to grow length wise? Do you have room to grow if you were to add additional rows? Are you also wanting to incorporate portable team seating and scorers tables? During this process, be sure to ask questions and get your questions answered.

Remember Code Compliance

Chapter 5 of the ICC-300, Section 501.4 states: “Alterations. Alterations to any tiered seating shall conform with the requirements of this standard for new construction. Portions of the structure not altered and not affected by the alteration are not required to comply with the requirements in this standard for a new structure.”

Meaning, if you upgrade your aisle rails, you need to be sure they meet the code requirements referenced in Chapters 1-4.

Bottom Line: Do your research and make sure that the people doing the upgrades know what they’re talking about. Code requirements aren’t in place to be a hassle, they’re in place to keep spectators safe.

What is the end goal?

Is your goal to increase seating capacity? Or maybe it is to give your gym a fresh face with an Extreme Logo or Signature Logo Seating. Or perhaps, you have an older model of bleachers that does not have dedicated aisles and aisle rails, and you would like to create ease of access and safety for your patrons.

Depending on your overall goal, you do have options. If your seating unit is code compliant and safe, you can add to your school spirit with replacement seats, colored rails, skirt-board logos, step logos, and a fresh full-bleed Safety-End Closure Curtain that blocks unauthorized access to your bleacher’s understructure.

Is additional seating your number one goal? If you don’t have it in your budget for a full replacement, we suggest looking into the Maxam1 Portable Bleachers that can be moved throughout the building for multi-use purposes. Not sure if this is right for you? Contact us and try out our sample for a game or two.

Let's Have a Conversation!

Drop us a line and let us know what YOU need to move your project forward.

New Year, New Budget Planning: Telescopic Seating

Our Why.

Providing the best solution for you with code compliance and safety at the forefront because our kids, our family, and our community are in those seats.

Do Your Research.

The best solution for your facility may not be the same as the school district down the road. For some, it’s more about the look and feel of the gymnasium and for others it’s more about functionality and ease of use. Truth is, capital improvement purchases such as seating can be extremely complicated, but they don’t have to be if you do your homework. Considering this is typically a once in a generation purchase, you want to approach it correctly, but where do you start? We’ve gotten a lot of questions and a lot feedback over the years as well as calls to update new seating because not all seating options were considered including the addition of team seating, scorer tables, or partial seating options.

Last year, we sat down with Olmsted Falls to discuss their High School Bleacher Replacement project and you may be shocked to know that there were only 13 days (not business days, but days) between the date they contacted us and the day they supplied us with a Purchase Order. What made their decision that easy? Simple: They did their research.

We talked with Timothy Atkinson about his process for choosing Farnham Equipment Company and Hussey Seating Company and found out just how they did their due diligence prior to making a selection. The district passed a Bond Levy in November 2016 for renovations to be completed in 2018. The district wanted to show the community they were progressing with the renovations by starting in the gymnasium, so rather than wait until 2018, they had their new bleachers installed prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

Mr. Atkinson shared with us that they got the parents involved on their research. Knowing that a board office member and her son spent numerous hours in gymnasiums across the state for wrestling meets, Atkinson asked her to take note of what she did and didn’t like about the bleachers she was spending countless hours on along with the manufacturer information. She involved other parents in the process and shared the information with the decision makers. That, coupled with the benefits of NJPA pricing, now Sourcewell, and quick response from FEC, helped them make their decision.

Bottom Line: Know what you truly want and involve your community or colleagues in the process to create the ultimate wish list.

Budget Numbers

Once you have your wish list, find out from the experts what is truly possible within your space including the addition of media platforms, team seating, and/or scorer tables. Even if these items aren’t feasible for you right now budget wise, you want to be able to add them down the road without having to modify your seating again. The majority of the bleachers we install include at least two of these in their layout if not all three and proper egress has to be considered. Read more about Egress & What it Has to do with Bleachers, Team Seating and Scorers’ Tables.

Let’s Talk Extras

We’ve Got Spirit How ‘Bout You? Hussey Seating Company has a Total Graphics Package that provides the ultimate fan experience from Xtreme Logos, StepSign Graphics, CourtSign Graphics, Safety End Closure Graphics, CourtSide Graphics, Colored Rails, Media Platform Graphics, and Team Seating. Many of these options are great for selling sponsorships to assist with your investment. You dream it up – we can make it happen.

Easy Button. Quite literally if you upgrade to a wireless remote for your bleachers. Other ease of use options include Auto-Rotating Aisle Rails and Hinge Kits for Floor to First Row Aisle Steps. If you use your aisle steps now (you should – code compliance!) you know just how heavy the steps can be and that sometimes they wonder off to a closet somewhere… Additional accessories can be found here.

VIP Access. Whether you want to highlight the student section or create a sponsored VIP area, you can upgrade your seats to include backrests, cup holders, and more. Color combinations are vast so you have options!

 

Want More Information?

Looking for more information or ready to purchase? Contact Pat Kindelin or David Fahrenholz – they’ve got you covered. Curious about why Hussey Seating Company is the industry leader when it comes to telescopic solutions? Check them out for yourself here. We’ve partnered with Hussey for over 40 years and stand by their product, so much so that we are one of their Hussey Advantage Regional Service Centers with our Maintenance Solutions program.

Johnstown-Monroe School District | Johnstown-Monroe High School

  Project Name: Johnstown-Monroe High School Owner: Johnstown-Monroe School District Architect: BSHM Architects Construction Manager: Robertson Construction Services, Inc.   Scope: Materials & Installation of Educational Casework, Lab Casework, & Telescopic Bleachers Completion: August 2017 The new Johnstown Monroe High School is part of a district renovation and addition project started in 2014 when the bond levy passed, allowing the district to build…

Emergency Services | Are You Ready?

  Schools are about to open their doors to the 2018-2019 school year. You’ve been working all summer, checking off maintenance needs. Fridays will soon be filled with football and gymnasiums will be hosting pep rallies. Gym class means volleyball, basketball, and indoor sports. All have students gathering, communities cheering on the home team. Are you ready?  We are….