In 2009, the Performance Safety Team (PST) become the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST), after organization-wide efforts to better reflect our roles, and the fact that we had grown beyond just performance as our core mission. While the name has changed, we will still be working in the same diligent way to help people create dangerous art safely.
2009 saw the full and timely use of all of the Fire Art Safety Team’s skills. Artists incorporating fire into their artwork were checked in and inspected promptly, giving the team more time for nightly interaction with the projects as they were in use. Artists with larger burns were assigned inspectors early in the week, giving the inspectors time to work with the artists and to plan for burns that were visually striking, meaningful, and the safest they could be.
2009 also saw Burning Man in full support of the use of Decomposed Granite (DG) as a protective shield for the burning of large artworks. This worked great and we plan to continue using it in the future.
Each year, the team creates a burn timeline for each piece, determining how its timing effects other burns and installations. As one piece smolders into coals and memories another one is ignited. Resources and personnel leapfrog from burn to burn and the population of Black Rock City is drawn from fire to fire.
The weather often wreaks havoc with our timeline. Wind, dust, and high temperature must always be planned for and contingency plans be made before it’s an issue on-site. While it is important to burn promptly we can never put that above the safety of the city’s population.
While threatening early in the day on Burn day, the weather this year gave us a break, and the Fire Conclave set Saturday night on fire, followed by one of the largest Man burns to date. We are proud of the fact that we can bring this type of incendiary art and pyrotechnic display to tens of thousands of participants each year.
The playa was abuzz this year with the rumored launch of the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, created by Sean Orlando, Nathaniel Taylor, and David Shulman. The launch was delayed due to challenging weather conditions, but in the end participants were treated to a visual treat of fuel bursts in assorted colors, streaming silver jets of fire and, yes folks, Gus Gristle is healing just fine after his amazing last-second launchpad escape.
Each night the Holding Flame project by Patrick Shearn and Cynthia Washburn warmed participants as they gathered under its roof for combustion and contemplation. While not technically complex, its simple design produced endless ripples and waves of flame overhead.
The Gee-Gnome by Rosa Anna DeFilippis, Peter Youngmeister, Caroline Miller and John DeVenezia fumed and shot fire in its little garden. Gnomes love fire!
The Flamethrower Shooting Gallery by Matisse Enzer drew folks in like moths to the flame to have a shot at “little Burning Men” with this super soaker of fire.
Fire Of Fires by David Umlas, Marrilee Ratcliffe and the Community Art Makers brought fresh energy to the Temple and for the first time incorporated a large-scale flame effect that ran nightly. Hats off to their crew for providing a contemplative place to remember, honor and reflect.
The Museum of Unnatural Selection by Jen Forbes, Lex Talionis and Goatman Dan warmed the entrance to the Café this year and as participants tried to make sense of evolution and all of its possible branches. Animatronics, lights, and fire were all triggered in delight as participants pushed and pulled its levers and buttons.
Each of these projects chose to incorporate fire and or pyrotechnics in their work and the Fire Art Safety Team once again did a great job helping the artists of Burning Man to expresses their fiery dreams. The Fire Art Safety Team looks forward to helping you create dangerous art safely in 2010.