Guidelines for Flame Effects on Mutant Vehicles

Some of the most spectacular Mutant Vehicles seen on the playa incorporate flame effects into their design, blowing fire into the night sky. As amazing as this is, flame effects on Mutant Vehicles present unique challenges, due to the fact that the vehicles move about the playa and carry passengers. While the use of LP-Gas flame effects is permitted, using liquid fueled effects or open fire that cannot be instantly extinguished is NOT allowed on Mutant Vehicles.

Required Inspections

Note that your vehicle must be registered, approved and licensed by the Department of Mutant Vehicles before a member of the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) will review any flame effects. Failure to pass the DMV inspection will result in your not being licensed to drive your Mutant Vehicle on the playa.

FAST will inspect your vehicle’s flame effects at the Department of Mutant Vehicles on playa to ensure you’ve followed all the requirements for safely constructing and operating the flame effects. Failure to pass this inspection will result in your not being allowed to operate the flame effect on your vehicle.

Construction of Mutant Vehicle Flame Effects

When incorporating flame effects, Mutant Vehicle artists must not only follow the General Flame Effects Guidelines, but also take into consideration the following factors in the design and construction of flame effects for their vehicles:

  • The use of wood fires or liquid-fueled flame effects on Mutant Vehicles is prohibited.
  • Transporting open acetylene cylinders, and use of acetylene in flame effects on mobile art is prohibited.
  • Route your hoses inboard and away from hot exhaust pipes or manifolds. You will be moving and you could run into an unlit object on the playa or another Mutant Vehicle. All fuel lines should be protected from potential damage due to a collision.
  • It is possible that you may have participants on your vehicle. The routing of fuel and electrical lines should also be such that they cannot be damaged by someone grabbing them (say, while traveling over rough terrain) or tripping over them.
  • Fuel and electrical lines should be run in such a way as to prevent rubbing, chafing, impingement or other damage that may result from normal use of vehicle.
  • Fuel tanks must be mounted and secured within the vehicle so they are protected from damage caused by a collision with another vehicle or solid object, and where participants cannot step or stand on them.
  • Fuel tanks should be well ventilated; LP-Gas is heavier than air and in case of a leak will collect in low unventilated areas, resulting in risk of explosion.
  • The 1/4-turn main LP-Gas shut-off valve must be placed within easy reach of both the driver and the flame effects operator.
  • Flame should be well above the heads of participants: at least 10 feet (3m) above where any participant could stand, whether on the ground, or on your vehicle.
  • Flame discharges should be vertical whenever possible; no flame shall be angled closer than 45° to the horizontal.

Maximum LP-Gas Quantity for Mutant Vehicles

In order to ensure the safety of participants and Emergency Services personnel, Burning Man imposes limits on the quantity of LP-Gas that may be carried on Mutant Vehicles. These limits are consistent with regulations imposed by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT), as well as National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines.

  • The total Aggregate Gross Weight (weight of containers plus fuel when all containers are filled to their maximum permitted filling levels) shall not exceed 1000 lb.
  • The maximum number of containers shall not exceed ten (10).
  • The maximum size DOT cylinder shall be 1000 lb. water capacity (WC).
  • The maximum size ASME portable container shall be 200 gallon water capacity (WC).
  • ASME containers shall be designed for portable use, and shall have integral appurtenance protection.
  • Containers shall be installed on the vehicle to allow adequate ventilation and access to their appurtenances for easy closure in an emergency situation.
  • The containers shall be transported on the vehicle upright with the relief valve in communication with the vapor space preventing the venting of liquid LP-Gas.
  • Containers shall be secured to prevent movement during transportation.

The formula to obtain the aggregate gross weight of a cylinder is:

AGW = (WC × 0.42) + TW


  • AGW = Aggregate Gross Weight
  • WC = Water Capacity (marked on cylinder)
  • TW = Tare Weight (the weight of the container when empty; marked on cylinder)

Below is a table of approximate Aggregate Gross Weights for several common LP-Gas cylinder sizes:

Cylinder Size

Aggregate Gross Weight









33.5# (forklift)




43.5# (forklift)






Note that Aggregate Gross Weight is only one consideration in sizing your fuel supply. Regardless of the size(s) of the cylinders you choose, you are limited to a total of ten (10) cylinders maximum.

(If the maximum allowed quantity were to be determined by AGW only, a Mutant Vehicle could hypothetically transport 66 × 5# cylinders and be in compliance with the maximum weight rule. But 66 cylinders on a Mutant Vehicle is a lot of valves to close, a lot of connections that could leak, and a lot of relief valves that could vent. Therefore, Burning Man limits the total number of LP-Gas cylinders on any Mutant Vehicle to ten.)

Below are some examples of LP-Gas cylinder combinations that meet the requirements:

  • Ten 20# cylinders (380 lb.)
  • Ten 30# cylinders (550 lb.)
  • Ten 40# cylinders (720 lb.)
  • Five 100# cylinders (855 lb.)
  • Five 100# cylinders and three 20# cylinders (969 lb.)