Open Fire Guidelines

DEFINITION

Open Fire projects can be as large as the Temple or as small and intimate as a fiery urn in the depths of the open playa. Fire can be a great way to bring folks together on a chilly playa night or to send your artwork to the spirits in a final fiery conflagration

Types of Open Fire

  • OPEN FIRE / LEVEL ONE – Large burn in contact with the playa
    Art installations, when fully engulfed in flames, producing a tremendous amount of heat, require a burn shield platform. This burn may or may not require a safety perimeter, and may or may not require Ranger support. A Burn Laminate WILL be needed for this level.
  • OPEN FIRE / LEVEL TWO – Enclosed Fire
    Art installation with small, enclosed fire such as candles, torches, fire barrel, raised container, etc. Precautions must be taken to make sure that anything that should not be set on fire is kept away from the flame (e.g. fabric, sets, etc.). As long as all fire is kept within an enclosed vessel, there is no need for a Burn Shield Platform or a Burn Laminate.
  • OPEN FIRE / LEVEL THREE
    Art installation that is created in one location and is moved to an approved Burn Platform for burning. The artwork could be burned at the Man Pavilion after the Man has fallen OR at one of the Burn Gardens located at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 near the Esplanade, depending on the most favorable schedule. A Burn Laminate will NOT be needed for this level.

Large or small, all Open Fire must address some common issues:

Playa Protection and Burn Scar Prevention

In order to protect the unique surface of the playa and to comply with our event stipulations from the BLM, we must prevent permanent damage to the playa surface. The heat produced by fire on the surface of the playa creates hardened, discolored, baked areas. Over time, these burn scars become raised areas, creating a distraction to the eye and a hazard to vehicle traffic. Luckily, there are simple steps that can be taken to prevent burn scars, and you can read about them here.

Safe Clearance and Perimeter

Fire is an awesome force and we all want to get as close as possible for a good view and to feel its warmth. But we must always think first about the protection and safety of the citizens of Black Rock City. For larger burns and pyrotechnic displays, a safety perimeter and clearance from other art or flammables are required. We have learned a lot of lessons on this subject over the years of Burning Man. If you are planning to burn your installation or are planning a pyrotechnic display, please read these Guidelines for Safety Perimeters.

Material Considerations

When planning for the burning of your artwork, it’s important to choose the materials you use carefully. The use of cardboard, thin sheets of plywood or veneer under 5/8ths of an inch thick, chipboard and cloth can create sheets of embers blowing great distances, showering sparks down on the crowds. Laminated wood also known as engineered lumber is often treated with fire retardants. These retardants can greatly affect the burn time and end with support pieces remaining upright long after the bulk of the piece burns away. Heavily painted or treated wood, plastics and other inorganic materials can cause excessive fumes and will not be allowed to burn.

Alternative Burning Options

If you want to burn your artwork without the hassle of creating a burn platform and a safety perimeter, you have two options that will let you burn with ease. They are:

  • Burn Gardens:
    At the terminus of each radial street in Black Rock City, you will find large public burn platforms that can be used by everybody to burn art projects and camp burnables, throughout the event, on a first-come, first-served basis. Exercise self-reliance and Leave No Trace principles: clean up your part of the mess you create. To prevent potentially dangerous spillover, artwork burned on these platforms must be no taller than the width of the platform.
  • Burn your art on the Man platform:
    After the fall of the Man Saturday night, the Man platform may be used for the burning of your project.

Questions

Here are email addresses to direct questions concerning:

Art installations in general: installations@burningman.com

Open Fire: fire-art@burningman.com

Flame Effects: flame-effects@burningman.com

Pyrotechnics: pyro@burningman.com

Register Your Project

Visit our Art Installation Questionnaire page to register your project.