Approval Process for Fire Art

Burning Man embraces the use of fire as an art form in ways that no other event ever has, and we take as much pride in our safety record as we do our ability to burn. It is every artist’s responsibility to help Burning Man maintain this safety record, ensuring that we can all continue to use fire in the ways that make our event unique.

Before you consider creating art that utilizes fire, you must take into consideration both the fire safety guidelines presented in these pages, and the approval process you will need to navigate in order for your project to be licensed to burn at Burning Man. This multiple-step approval process is not meant to bog artists down, but rather to ensure that they adhere to all safety requirements.

Pre-Playa Planning

Read and Understand Safety Guidelines

Your planning process begins with reading and understanding all of the fire art safety guidelines in this section of the website that pertain to the particular kind of artwork you have in mind. These guidelines have been compiled by Burning Man’s Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) to assist you in creating and exhibiting fire art safely. While these guidelines are extensive, it’s critical that you completely understand and follow all that apply to your project.

If you are new to all this, reading all of the guidelines here – even those that don’t pertain to your type of fire art – wouldn’t be a bad idea: they might give you some ideas you wouldn’t have had otherwise!

If you have questions after reading the guidelines, email us:

Art installations in general:
Open Fire:
Flame Effects:
Mutant Vehicle Flame Effects:

A member of the Art Department staff or the Fire Art Safety Team will be happy to guide you.

Designate Key Project Roles

Bringing any art project to Burning Man usually requires many hands – and fire art projects, even small ones, are no exception. To ensure that your project is successful, safe for everyone involved, and that it leaves the playa in pristine condition after it’s gone, you will need to appoint knowledgeable and capable individuals to fill some key roles. You, the artist, together with the people who fill these roles, make up your project team.

The full list of roles needed in your project will depend on the kinds of fire it incorporates, but every fire art project needs a Fire Safety Liaison, and every project (whether it uses fire or not) needs a Leave No Trace Lead.

Additionally, you will need:

  • a Burn Lead if your project includes large scale Open Fire
  • a Pyrotechnics Lead if your project includes Pyrotechnics
  • a Perimeter Lead if your project includes either Pyrotechnics or Level One Open Fire

All of these roles, and the ideal characteristics of the people you appoint to them, are described in greater detail here. When considering people to fill these roles, bear in mind that each role is important, and will require the full attention of the person chosen to fill it.

Develop Plans and Documentation

Once you have your project team in place, the planning of the actual artwork can begin. Any significant Burning Man art project requires a great deal of planning, but fire art projects require more than most. Your plans not only have to cover how the artwork will be built, but also how crew and participant safety will be managed at all phases (build, exhibition, burning or teardown and clean-up), and how your crew will respond when things go wrong.

Because safety is such an important concern, you will definitely need more than verbal expressions of your creative ideas and a few concept sketches. You must document your plans in detail, using both written words and pictures, so that everyone who needs to understand your plans can do so without you being present to explain them. This is not just for the Fire Art Safety Team, which needs to review and approve your plans, but also for all the people working on your project who need to understand their roles and how to perform them.

The documentation you will need to create includes some or all of the following:

  • Scenario – this describes the “what” and the “how” of your project
  • Timeline (for Level One open fire burns) – this lays out the “when” and “how long” of your open fire burn
  • Diagrams and Schematics – these include technical diagrams of flame effects or other special effects, and layout plans of your art installation and your project’s base camp
  • Pyrotechnic Product and Materials Lists (for projects involving pyrotechnics)
  • Safety Plan – how you will ensure the safety of crew and participants
  • Emergency Response Plan – how your crew will respond when things go wrong despite your safety plan
  • Leave No Trace Plan – how you will ensure that no trace of your crew or your artwork remains after the Burning Man event

Please see the following pages for the specific documentation required for each fire classification:

Required Documentation for Open Fire projects

Required Documentation for Pyrotechnics projects

Required Documentation for Flame Effects projects

Registration and Pre-Playa Review

When the bulk of your documentation is ready, it is time to register your art installation, mutant vehicle or theme camp by filling out a BRC Participation Form.

Each participation form allows you to specify whether your project will be using fire (and for on-playa art installations, which kinds of fire). Answering these questions affirmatively opens sections of the form where you will be asked to agree to abide by all relevant fire safety guidelines, and then to submit your documentation.

IMPORTANT: Please note that filling out the Fire Section of the Art Installation Questionnaire does not automatically mean that you have approval to burn your artwork on playa, given the environmental impact and the limited resources we have to support burns. We will review your application and notify you whether or not you are approved to burn. You must submit your Art Installation Questionnaire by April 15th if you would like your artwork to be considered for burning during event week.

We understand that you may not have every last detail of your plans worked out by the time you submit your participation form, and that plans can change because of financial or other considerations. But we do ask that the plans you submit via the participation form fairly present your best idea of how your project will work, as completely as you can manage, before the submission deadline.

After your participation form is submitted, your documentation will be reviewed by the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST). We may contact your Fire Safety Liaison if we have questions or need clarification about your plans, or need you to make changes.

You will have an opportunity (and an obligation!) to provide updates as your plans firm up or if they change. In any case, we need the complete, finalized version of all your plans by the last full work week in July.

Note: If your project involves Level One open fire, you must plan to have your entire project team participate in at least least one scheduled half-hour Burn Meeting (via online video conference call) with the FAST Artist Liaison assigned to your project.

The safety and logistical requirements of Level One Open Fire projects – artworks that burn on playa – make them some of the most complex projects at Burning Man. It is imperative that your plans be complete, understood by all members of your team, and approved by FAST before you begin packing for the playa. Depending on the quality of the initial plans you submit with the Art Installation form, many additional days’ or weeks’ worth of interactions with FAST (in addition to the half hour Burn Meeting) may be needed to ensure that your plans will result in a safe and successful burn. If your plans are incomplete or do not meet FAST’s safety criteria, your project will not be allowed to burn.

Regardless of project type, your Fire Safety Liaison should closely monitor their email for important communications and inquiries from FAST, and provide information updates to FAST as necessary.

On-Playa Approvals

Once you hit playa, the remainder of the approval process you will follow depends on the type of project you are bringing:

Open Fire and/or Pyrotechnics Installations

  1. Go to the ARTery and check in, starting at the main ARTery desk; after your project check-in is complete and your artwork has been placed, you will be handed off to the FAST desk. If your artwork is Level Two open fire, what you need to do next depends on the scale of your artwork and how well-contained its fire is. Most Level Two Open Fire projects only need to have a short conversation at the FAST desk about proper “burn etiquette,” and do not need a BRC burn license laminate.
  2. If your artwork is Level Three open fire, you simply need to have a short conversation with the FAST desk agent to be sure you understand proper “burn etiquette” for these kinds of artworks. After that you are free to set up and enjoy your artwork. No burn laminate is required for artworks of this type.
  3. Larger-scale artworks or artworks that may create significant amounts of MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) when they burn need to be inspected, and you may need a burn laminate before you are allowed to light them. In this case the process will be similar to the process for a flame effect installation (see below).
  4. If your project is Level One open fire, your next step after checking in at the FAST desk will be to prepare your burn shield for inspection. This means spreading a layer of decomposed granite that you have pre-arranged with Art Support Services to provide.
  5. When your burn shield is ready, visit the FAST desk to schedule an inspection, giving a “time window” when the artist and Fire Safety Liaison will both be at the site and ready to meet with an inspector.
  6. The FAST inspector inspects the burn shield, and may ask for changes. If changes are needed, you will need to schedule another inspection. When the burn shield has been approved, the artwork may be constructed on top of it.
  7. Your Fire Safety Liaison maintains daily contact with FAST to stay apprised of any schedule adjustments or other advisories. Your burn time must be confirmed with FAST on playa. FAST will try to accommodate your preferred burn time, but it is not guaranteed.
  8. If you will be using pyrotechnics, a FAST inspector will make arrangements with your Fire Safety Liaison to review their placement.
  9. On the day of your burn, set your perimeter in plenty of time to make all necessary preparations.
  10. At least one hour before your scheduled burn time, a member of FAST designated as the FAST Lead supervising your burn will arrive at your installation to rendezvous and coordinate with the Project Team (artist and all leads). When all conditions on the ground for burning the artwork and/or shooting the pyro show have been met, the FAST Lead issues the necessary laminates and the burn/shoot may proceed.

Flame Effects (Installation or Theme Camp)

  1. Go to the ARTery and check in. For an on-playa art installation, start at the main ARTery desk, and after your project check in is complete and your artwork has been placed, you will be handed off to the FAST desk. For a flame effect registered through the Camp Placement participation form, you can bypass the main ARTery desk and go straight to the FAST desk. In either case, be sure to tell the FAST desk agent whether you have an on-playa art installation or an in-camp flame effect.
  2. Set up your flame effect, making it ready to be inspected.
  3. Visit the FAST desk to schedule an inspection of your flame effect, giving a time window when the artist and Fire Safety Liaison will both be at the installation and ready to meet with an inspector.
  4. A FAST inspector will come out to inspect the artwork. The artist and Fire Safety Liaison must be present at the inspection. Depending on the outcome of the inspection, the inspector may call for modifications or additional work to be done. In this case, you will need to schedule another inspection when you are ready.
  5. Once the flame effect passes inspection, the inspector issues a license (laminate) signifying that the flame effect may be operated. The laminate must be worn by a designated flame effects operator, who has responsibility for the safe operation of the effects.

Mutant Vehicle with Flame Effects

  1. Prepare your Mutant Vehicle and its flame effects for inspection.
  2. Bring the vehicle to the DMV for inspection of all systems, including its flame effects. The Fire Safety Liaison and flame effects Operator must be present at this inspection. At least two FAST inspectors are on duty at the DMV inspection station during inspection hours. After the flame effect passes inspection, the FAST inspector issues a license (laminate) signifying that the flame effect may be operated. The laminate must be worn by a designated flame effects operator, who has responsibility for the safe operation of the effects.

That Was Awesome! (Now It’s Time to Clean Up)

Once you’ve burned or dismantled your artwork, your Leave No Trace plan kicks into high gear. Completely cleaning the site of your installation is essential for the continuation of our event and it is your responsibility as the artist. This includes removing all debris from decomposed granite, if you have used it, and removing all items buried under the playa surface.

Once the site has been cleaned, return to the ARTery to arrange for a site inspection by Art Support Services. The Artist and Leave No Trace Lead must both be present at this inspection. Only after this final review of your site will you be considered checked out and able to depart.

One Last Thing

In order for us to always improve, we need to hear from you about your experience with your burn. Artists will be required to write a short report post event describing what worked and what did not.


Here are email addresses where you may direct questions concerning:

Art installations in general:
Open Fire:
Flame Effects:
Mutant Vehicle Flame Effects: