Performance Safety Team

Here is a quick overview of all the great fire experienced on playa in 2011:

  • 22 Regional Effigies (CORE) burned
  • 9 significant art works set ablaze
  • Several great fireworks shows
  • The largest Temple burn ever
  • 10 human fireballs performing full body burns
  • And a huge conflagration to ignite the Man!

With all of the burning art this year it was essential to keep all of the logistics and support pieces moving like clockwork. The Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) worked pre-event to provide Flame Effects, Open Fire and Pyrotechnic projects with information specific to each of these different fire types. This took the form of meetings with artists to discuss burn specifics, the review of technical details and drawings, as well as the scheduling all of the burns. Once on playa the team worked to arrange everything necessary to ensure that all of the fires burned safely through the night.

You said you wanted more fire and we gave it to you! Here are a few of the great burning art projects of 2011.

Burning Time – The 1 Mile Clock Project by Jim Bowers. After a week of laser-based timekeeping on a huge playa-sized scale, the project culminated with a timely burn at midnight Saturday after the Man burned. Smaller burns such as this can be rewarding as you stumble upon them late at night and join the artist in the release of their work.The Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE). While the Burning Man Regional Network is infinitely diverse in their local events, one thing they all have in common is burning. So it was no surprise that the 22 Regional groups from around the world brought their A-game to the task. Thursday night all 22 effigies were set on fire simultaneously. As the night grew late each group played host to a friendly campfire as their work burned to embers.

Fireworks Night by The Flaming Lotus Girls. Friday night the Flaming Lotus Girls and Black Rock Effects again joined forces to choreograph a night to remember using an artist’s palette of fuels and pyrotechnics. The resulting display featured fire and sparks in a stunning 360-degree display of motion, color and sound.The Trojan Horse – by Douglas Bevans and crew. The scale of this project was historic in proportion. A crew of over 500 pulled the horse to its final resting place and a flight of fiery arrows set it ablaze at its final resting spot. Had the original Trojans given the original gift horse the Burning Man treatment perhaps history would have turned out differently.

Mobile Fire ArtGarden of Rockets – by Christopher Schardt. Burning Man has a tradition of cutting-edge flame effects that you will see nowhere else on earth. The Garden of Rockets is one of these projects. Spinning heads of fire whirled around in a dizzying display. Christopher skillfully machined this piece from aluminum stock and added the motion components with a skill level that will set the bar higher for future flame effects.

The use of flame effects on Mutant Vehicles has been a big growth area for the event and the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) has added additional team members over the last few years to keep up with this growth.

Each night a wide variety of Flame Effects are checked by team members as the vehicles are registered with the Department of Mutant Vehicles.

Clearly the use of fire for spectacle, artistic expression and spiritual transformation is one of our event’s strong points and we can look forward to many more great works of fire art. In the coming year we will continue to seek improvements within our team and process. Issues we will be working on include the challenge of ensuring that we continue to protect the playa surface from burn scars and other damage as we see more art to be burned. We will also be working with artists to better train perimeter staff and to try to bring consistency to burn perimeters.El Pulpo Mechanico by Duane Flatmo was an odd octopus roaming the Playa. Controlled flame effects set bursts of fire from the tips of the tentacles as it moved and waved its copper clad tentacles. Working with this type of wonderment is what makes the job of a Fire Art Safety Team member like no other job in the world.

Submitted by,
Dave X