Pyrotechnics Guidelines

There are good reasons why Burners say “Happy New Year!” when the Man burns. Yes, your year comes to revolve around Burning Man after a couple trips out to the desert. But the more obvious reason is that the thing blows up like New Year’s Eve to the power of the Fourth of July. For that, we can thank world-class pyrotechnics experts, and you don’t live to be one of those unless you practice the craft of exploding things very carefully, using the following guidelines.

Pyrotechnics Definition

Pyrotechnics refers to the art, craft and science of fireworks, which includes any explosives or projectiles. All pyrotechnic special effects material used in any artwork or performance must consist of consumer fireworks [1.4G Class C, UN0336] or less.

Absolutely NO HOMEMADE FIREWORKS, nor DISPLAY (PROFESSIONAL) FIREWORKS [1.3G CLASS B, UN0335] or higher, will be permitted in any artwork or performance.

Safety Guidelines for Pyrotechnics

Allowed Uses of Pyrotechnics

Pyrotechnics may only be used at Burning Man in art installations and performances on the open playa that have been registered with the Art Department and approved by FAST.

ABSOLUTELY NO PYROTECHNICS SHALL BE USED WITHIN THE CITY OR CAMPING AREA.

Consumer Grade Fireworks Only

Fireworks used in these projects are limited to Consumer Grade [1.4G Class C, UN0336] Fireworks. This includes fountains (also known as gerbs), sparklers, night displays or cakes.

For reasons of safety and event stipulations we do not allow the use of Display Grade [1.3G Class B, UN0335] Fireworks.

No pyrotechnics made by anyone other than a licensed manufacturer of consumer grade pyrotechnics will be permitted on site. This is due to the unknown reliability and consistency of the product, which could prove harmful to participants.

Fireworks Debris

Burning Man encourages artists to consider using fireworks that create the least amount of debris. For instance, firecrackers create a lot of debris, but magic whip (sometimes referred to as firecracker rope) creates very little debris. Multi-shot devices or cakes are filled with small cardboard discs that are projected and spread for great distances. When choosing product for display, choose devices with the least amount of wrapping, inserts, foils and other potential debris. Post-display, the entire fallout area must be promptly swept for debris before it is trampled into the Playa surface or is blown away by the wind.

Storage of Pyrotechnic Material

All pyrotechnic material must be securely stored in accordance with the NFPA 1124 code for storage of fireworks and pyrotechnic materials.

Pyrotechnic materials shall be secured in portable, fire-resistant, theft-resistant, weather-resistant magazines (or “day boxes”) that comply with the following provisions:

  • Magazines shall be used exclusively for the storage of pyrotechnic materials.
  • Each magazine shall be equipped with a padlock.
  • Magazines constructed of metal shall meet the following requirements:

    • They shall be constructed of 12 gauge sheet metal.
    • They shall be lined with a non-sparking material.
    • The edges of metal covers shall overlap the sides by at least 1 in. (25 mm).
  • Magazines constructed of wood shall meet the following requirements:

    • They shall have sides, bottoms and covers or doors of 4 in. (102 mm) hardwood that are braced at the corners.
    • They shall be covered with sheet metal of not less than 26 gauge.
    • Nails exposed to the interior of the magazine shall be countersunk.
  • No smoking, open flame, spark-producing equipment or storage of combustible materials within 50 feet (15m) of any magazine.
  • Proper signage of “NO SMOKING – FLAMMABLE” shall be visible from all four directions.
  • At least one handheld portable extinguisher with a 40-B rating is required for any pyrotechnics storage area. Extinguishers rated as ABC, AB, or BC will have a separate value for the B rating, which indicates the square footage of a class-B fire that a non-expert user should be able to extinguish with it.
  • Label magazines with your name, the name of your project, and the types and quantities of material they contain.

Preparation and Assembly of Pyrotechnic Devices

Wherever magazines are open or pyrotechnics are being prepared, assembled or placed, a surrounding 100′ (30m) zone free of free of open flame, spark-producing equipment, smoking or storage of combustible materials must be enforced

Pyrotechnic Operators and Assistants

  • Pyrotechnic special effects operators must be 21 years of age or older. Technical assistants only need to be 18 years old.
  • Only people familiar with the safety considerations and hazards involved are permitted to handle pyrotechnic materials.
  • All personnel involved in setting up or firing the show are required to wear fire resistant clothing and personal head, eye and hearing protection.
  • All personnel involved in setting up or firing the show must be trained in the use of fire extinguishers.
  • No carelessness, negligence, or unsafe conditions with pyrotechnics shall be tolerated.
  • Do not drink alcohol, take drugs, or smoke when working with pyrotechnics.

Safety Perimeters

An appropriate safety perimeter is required for both set-up and firing of a pyrotechnics show. A member of FAST will advise on the correct perimeter size.

You will need a minimum of one front-line person on your perimeter crew for every 25 feet (7.5m) of the perimeter’s circumference.

Plan to establish the perimeter early enough to allow plenty of time for preparation of the burn, bearing in mind that things rarely go according to plan on the playa.

Make sure that members of your perimeter crew can be easily identified and distinguished from other participants by providing day-glo safety vests for them to wear over their jackets or other outerwear.

The artist and Fire Safety Liaison agree that the safety perimeter shall be of such size that no pyrotechnics, flame, spark or fallout will cross or land outside the perimeter, nor enter, go over, under, on, or around the audience.

Please be sure to read the detailed information about setting up and managing a perimeter in the the Safety Perimeters section of the Open Fire Guidelines page.

Fire Extinguishers

Artist and Fire Safety Liaison agree to have an adequate number of the right types of fire extinguishers on hand during show set-up to extinguish accidental fires.

Material Safety Data Sheets

MSDS for all products used in the pyrotechnic display must be available at the installation when the show is being set up, to guide clean-up activities in case of a material spill, and to provide to emergency medical personnel in case of accidental exposure.

Shooting the Show

Artist agrees that the pyrotechnics display will not start until all performers, safety monitors, and participants are in place, ready and the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) has granted approval in the form of a signed Pyrotechnics laminate.

Safety sweeps are required:

  • Before the show starts to identify hazards that may have developed since the pyrotechnics were placed;
  • After firing but before perimeter release to identify and mitigate undetonated pyrotechnics or other hazards.

Questions

Here are email addresses where you may 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

Registration and Approval

Read all about how to register your project and get it approved.