Fire Safety Agreement: Open Fire (OF)

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Open Fire Definitions

Open fire (OF) is defined as simple burning of solid or unpressurized liquid fuels, without any enhancement by mechanical devices, extra oxidizers or pyrotechnic materials.

Burning Man defines three different OF types or levels, each with different characteristics, and each requiring different approval processes and safety procedures.

LEVEL ONE – Direct Contact with the Playa. OF1 includes all large sculpture burns in close proximity to the playa surface. A large artwork fully engulfed in flames produces a tremendous amount of heat, requiring a burn shield (decomposed granite, aka DG) to prevent burn scars on the Playa surface. Projects of this type typically require a safety perimeter, and may also require Ranger and/or Emergency Services Department (ESD) support. A burn license is REQUIRED for this level.

LEVEL TWO – Enclosed Fire. OF2 is defined as simple burning of unpressurized fuels, away from the playa surface and within appropriate fireproof containment. Examples include burn barrels, braziers or other raised containers, oil lamps, torches, candles and other simple uses of fire. Precautions must be taken to ensure that anything that should not be set on fire (fabric, stage sets, etc.) is kept away from flame. As long as all fire, fuel, embers, etc., are kept contained and away from the playa surface, neither a burn shield nor a burn license are required for this level.

LEVEL THREE – Relocation for Burning. OF3 artworks are those created in one location that are then moved to an approved burn shield platform at a different location for burning, usually at one of the public burn gardens located at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 along the Esplanade. A burn license is not required for this level.

Fire Art Safety Team (FAST)

Burning Man has a Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) whose mission is to provide experienced support for fire artists and to ensure the safe use of fire at the Burning Man event. FAST is made up of artists, fire safety personnel and industry professionals who assist artists in the safe execution of open fire, flame effects, and pyrotechnics in their artworks, theme camps and mutant vehicles. FAST inspects artworks incorporating fire and issues the appropriate burn license(s) once the artwork has been approved.

Two specific FAST positions will assist artists in the success of their artwork: 1) a FAST Artist Liaison will work with aArtists and their Fire Safety Liaisons during the pre-event evaluation process, and 2) a FAST Lead oversees any burns and/or pyrotechnic shows at the event. Take advantage of their cumulative knowledge and experience in planning your artwork.

Fire Art & Event Stipulations

Burning Man’s agreements with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are in the form of event stipulations, which state that for public safety reasons, artworks utilizing open fire, flame effects or pyrotechnics require safety inspection and approval in the form of a burn license (laminate) issued and signed by a member of FAST.

FAST and outside authorities, including law enforcement, retain jurisdiction over all flame classifications. They have the right to request to see the burn license and if not presented can override, stop, alter or cancel any artwork or performance with just cause. They have access to all areas of the artwork or performance at all times.

Safety Responsibility for Open Fire Art

All artists and their crews are responsible for their own art. Because of the dangerous nature of open fires, no one may ignite a level one open fire artwork without the approval of FAST.

It is the responsibility of the artist to secure FAST approval for their open fire installation, initially based on submitted documentation, and ultimately based on a physical inspection of the construction and operating characteristics of the installation. Evidence of approval by FAST to ignite a level one open fire artwork is in the form of a burn license (laminate).

Fire Art Approval Process

The approval process for your fire art project involves a number of steps, starting well before you depart for Black Rock City, and culminating at the event. This multiple-step approval process is not meant to bog artists down, but rather to ensure that they adhere to all safety requirements. Those steps are:


  1. Designate qualified persons to fill the following project team roles (defined below): Fire Safety Liaison, Burn Lead, Perimeter Lead and Leave No Trace (LNT) Lead.
  2. Complete and submit the art installation questionnaire, including:
    • Fire Safety Liaison name and contact information
    • Burn scenario and timeline
    • Required diagrams
    • Safety and emergency plans
    • Leave no trace plan
  3. FAST reviews your submitted documentation.
  4. Your project team, through your Fire Safety Liaison, engages in an ongoing dialogue with a FAST Artist Liaison to ensure that your plans are complete and in conformity with FAST guidelines. For level one open fire artwork, this dialogue also includes at least one scheduled half-hour burn meeting (video or conference call) between the FAST Artist Liaison and the entire project team.
  5. Your Fire Safety Liaison maintains email contact with FAST to ensure that all parties are notified of updates and changes.

The safety and logistical requirements of level one open fire artworks make them some of the most complex projects at Burning Man. It is imperative that your fire art safety plans be complete, understood by all members of your team, and approved by FAST before you begin packing for the event. 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. Please note that if your plans are incomplete or do not meet FAST’s safety criteria, your project will not be allowed to burn.


  1. Check in at the ARTery, first at the main ARTery desk, and then subsequently at the Art Support Services (ASS) desk and FAST desk.
  2. Once your artwork has been placed, and you have completed any trenching required and installed any anchors, let ASS know that you are ready to receive your decomposed granite (DG) to prepare your burn shield.
  3. Talk to your ASS squad or visit the ASS desk to schedule an inspection of your burn shield.
  4. ASS inspects the burn shield for the proper depth (4 inches) and size (as determined by FAST in your pre-event meeting). When it has been approved, the artwork may be constructed on top of it.
  5. 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 at the event. FAST will try to accommodate your preferred burn time, but it cannot be guaranteed.
  6. At least one hour before your scheduled burn time, the FAST Lead supervising your burn will arrive at your art installation to rendezvous and coordinate with the project team. When all conditions on the ground for burning the artwork have been met, the FAST Lead issues the burn license and the artwork may be fueled and burned.

Open Fire Project Team Roles

The artist must designate knowledgeable and capable individuals to fill the key roles listed below. Together, the individuals filling these roles, plus the artist, make up your open fire project team.

It is the joint responsibility of the artist and their Fire Safety Liaison to disseminate information and applicable deadlines to all project team members. The artist registering the artwork and the Fire Safety Liaison can be the same person or two different people.

Each of the following roles is important and will require the full attention of the person chosen to fill it.

Open Fire Safety Liaison

The Open Fire Safety Liaison serves as the primary point of contact for all communication between your project and FAST, and is responsible for ensuring that the artwork’s use of fire conforms to all applicable guidelines. This responsibility includes:

  • Ensuring that all items of required documentation are complete and accurate.
  • Receiving feedback and addressing questions and safety concerns raised by the FAST Artist Liaison assigned to evaluate the project’s documentation.
  • Promptly providing documentation updates to FAST, whether in response to FAST feedback or to design changes independently undertaken by the project.
  • Ensuring that the artwork is constructed and burned in accordance with the plan approved by FAST, and that the artwork will not be burned while any identifiable safety hazards are present.

Burn Lead

The Burn Lead on a level one open fire project is responsible for the planning and execution of the burn itself. This role is inward-facing during the burn, focusing on the safe preparation and ignition of the artwork. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Creating, in cooperation with the Perimeter Lead, a timeline for the burn, starting from formation of the perimeter and ending with release of the perimeter.
  • Planning for the safe placement of all fuels such as additional firewood, accelerants and/or pyrotechnic devices.
  • Detailed plan for the ignition of the artwork including crew placement and roles.
  • Detailed plan for hazard mitigation after the artwork collapses and before the perimeter is released.
  • Plan for managing any delays caused by weather or other circumstances.

Perimeter Lead

The Perimeter Lead is responsible for the formation and management of the safety perimeter for your burn, and for working with the FAST Lead assigned to supervise. This role is outward-facing during the burn, to protect the safety of those who have come to watch.

The person selected to be Perimeter Lead should have excellent organizational and communication skills, and the ability to stay calm in the midst of chaos. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Pre-event perimeter crew volunteer recruitment and organization.
  • Designation of subordinate perimeter managers at the quadrant level and below, as needed.
  • Educating the entire perimeter crew to ensure that every member understands how to run the perimeter.
  • Obtaining safety vests for the entire crew.
  • Complete perimeter management plan and timeline, including plan for managing delays caused by weather or other circumstances.
  • On-site perimeter crew management.
  • Liaison with FAST, Rangers and ESD as needed.

Leave No Trace (LNT) Lead

The LNT Lead is responsible for organizing daily clean-up around the artwork, and the post-burn clean-up which in most cases begins the morning after the burn. The person selected to be LNT Lead should be an early riser, and should be adept at recruiting and organizing others to participate in clean-up efforts. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Recruiting and organizing LNT crew and ensuring there are enough people for the task.
  • Securing proper clean-up tools, including metal trash cans.
  • Leading crew in both daily and post-burn clean-up efforts.

The post-burn clean-up includes pickup and removal of any unburned materials, metals, pyrotechnic debris and any other matter out of place (MOOP) on site. This includes the area beyond the perimeter boundary (i.e., out into the area where the audience had gathered to watch the burn), as well as any materials buried under the burn shield or playa surface. All MOOP removed must be packed out of Black Rock City.

Once the post-burn clean-up has been completed, the artist and the LNT Lead must meet with Art Support Services (ASS) for an inspection of the site and final check-out.

Fire Art Safety Plan — Required Documentation

The following items of documentation must be submitted for review and approval by FAST.

Burn Scenario

Your burn scenario is a complete, detailed description of how you will prepare and burn your artwork, how you will mitigate any hazards that remain in the immediate aftermath of the burn, and any other elements you will incorporate into your burn. This is the “what” and the “how” of your burn plan. It should include details such as:

  • Burn shield
  • Artwork materials and construction
  • Objects to be removed from the structure before burning
  • Structural hobbling to encourage the structure to fall in a particular way
  • Supplementary fuel load (i.e., cordwood)
  • Pyrotechnic or other special effects elements, if any
  • Performance elements, if any
  • Burn circle zones and perimeter details
  • Accelerants to be used, how they will be applied, and the safety protocols your crew will follow during application
  • How the burn will be ignited
  • Weather contingency plan (see below)
  • How you will mitigate hazards on the ground after the structure falls
  • Your contingency plan in case the structure does not fall
  • Overnight monitoring of the ember bed
Weather Contingency Plan

All burns are subject to cancellation or rescheduling in the event of adverse weather conditions. An essential part of your burn scenario is your weather contingency plan, which covers how you will deal with the possibility that weather conditions could develop that would prevent the burn from proceeding after pyrotechnic materials have been loaded and/or after fueling has taken place. An all-night standby is an essential part of this plan. You and your entire crew must be prepared to maintain the perimeter to keep the restricted zone from being entered once it has been loaded with pyrotechnics or accelerants, to avoid any unintended burning or participant injury.

Burn Timeline

Your burn timeline lays out the steps involved in executing your burn from start to finish, with the expected start time and duration for each step. This is the “when” and the “how long” of your burn plan. It should include any relevant steps such as:

  • Perimeter establishment
  • Clearing structure contents
  • Cordwood loading
  • Structural hobbling
  • Pyro loading
  • Stowaway/straggler check
  • Weather check
  • Accelerant application
  • Performance
  • Pyrotechnics show
  • Ignition
  • Combustion and collapse
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Perimeter release
  • Crew accounting and check-out
  • Overnight monitoring

Note that the items above are listed in the approximate order of occurrence for a typical burn. Every burn is unique, and your burn may have additional steps and/or a different order.

Required Diagrams

The following diagrams are required:

  1. Burn circle layout, including:
    • Illumination: how the installation, including generators or other outlying features, will be illuminated at night.
    • Burn zones and perimeter, showing distances from the center of the artwork
    • Pyro details (mortar locations, fire control station)
    • Perimeter features, e.g., safety corridors, rally point, etc.
    • Any other important physical features or locations.
  2. Burn shield platform, if not using decomposed granite
  3. Structural details & hobbling if you intend to do any hobbling of the structure before burning
  4. Special effects mechanisms to be used during your burn (e.g., liquid fuel dumps, etc.)
  5. Base camp layout
  • Storage location(s) for flammable liquids, fuel gasses or other hazardous/flammable materials.
  • Storage location(s) for empty fuel containers, if different from above.
  • Safety perimeters and barriers, and distances to public areas and habitations.
  • 20′ wide fire lane from street to storage location(s) listed above.
  • Fire extinguisher locations.

Operational Plans

Safety Plan

Your safety plan should describe all the measures that your crew will employ to ensure that your installation will be safe for participants, performers and crew, both during and after construction, and during any burn and subsequent clean-up. At a minimum it should cover:

  • Illumination and protection from vehicle traffic for all elements of the installation, including the artwork itself and any generators or other outlying equipment or structures.
  • Types, sizes and placement of fire extinguishers or other fire suppression means that will be kept on hand
  • Location and contents of first aid kit(s)
  • List of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) to be kept on hand
  • Safety training your crew members have
  • Safety-specific crew roles and responsibilities
  • Safety procedures and protocols
Emergency Response Plan

No matter how comprehensive your safety plan, things still go wrong. Your emergency response plan should list all the ways things may go wrong and expose your crew or other participants to potential injury, and how your crew will respond when they do. At a minimum it should cover:

  • Response to liquid fuel spills, small and large
  • Response to unplanned fires, small and large
  • Response to damage (or incipient damage) caused by wind, vehicle collision or other physical forces
  • Response to hazardous material exposure of crew, performer or participant
  • Response to injury sustained by crew, performer or participant
Leave No Trace (LNT) Plan

The artist, LNT Lead and crew are responsible for all clean up at the installation site during build, during the event and after your burn. Your LNT plan describes how you will accomplish this. At a minimum it should cover:

  • Preventing and removing MOOP during build and burn preparations, especially wood chips from construction or from cordwood.
  • Nightly clean-up procedure.
  • Post-burn clean-up procedure, including specific details on clean-up of any pyrotechnic debris, if applicable.
  • Emergency clean-up procedures (e.g., for liquid fuel spills).
  • Clean-up tools and materials to be used.

Safety Guidelines for Level One Open Fire

Please read carefully!

Failure to do so may result in your project not being permitted at Burning Man.

Burn Shield

A burn shield separates and insulates the playa from burn scarring (baking and discoloration) caused by the intense heat of an open fire burn. 

The simplest and most effective burn shield is a layer of decomposed granite (DG) placed on the surface of the playa prior to construction of the artwork. All art projects that are burning must have a 4” thick layer of DG between the art and the playa surface Arrangements for the purchase of DG are made through Art Support Services (ASS) after the initial burn beeting between your project team and the FAST Artist Liaison.

Artwork Materials and Construction

Materials Not to Be Burned

Avoid incorporating plastics and synthetics into your artwork. The burning of any toxic materials in your artwork, such as those found in furniture, rugs, and many other objects typically used to decorate artworks,  is prohibited by law. Talk to your artist liaison or FAST representative if you have any questions about what is acceptable. All such items must be removed from your artwork before it is burned.

Prevent Airborne Embers

Fabric, cardboard, large sections of papier-mâché, thin wood laminates or plywood less than 5/8 inch (16mm) in thickness are not allowed at the time of the burn. These materials can cast large embers that can be carried by heat and wind causing unintended fires and damage.

Nails, Screws and Other Fasteners

You can use nails, screws, or other steel fasteners in the construction of your artwork. You are required to clean them from the burn site. A magnet rake is one of the greatest cleanup tools and can be purchased cheaply.

Safety Perimeter

Your burn’s safety perimeter keeps participants from straying into areas where they could be injured or interfere with the work of your crew. Designing and managing a burn’s perimeter is one of the most complex aspects of the entire burn, with many factors to consider.

Burn Zones

In preparation for a burn, you must clearly identify and determine (with assistance from FAST) appropriate sizes for its burn zones. Starting from the center and working outward, the zones of a burn circle are:

  • Danger Zone (No-Man’s Land)
    • Artwork / Fire Zone – The artwork is at the center; this is where the actual combustion takes place.
    • Collapse Zone – This is the area surrounding the fire zone where the structure may fall. It should be designed to include an allowance for pieces of the structure that may come loose and cartwheel outward when they hit the ground.
    • Pyrotechnics Zone – If the burn includes a pyrotechnics show, this zone is where the mortars surrounding the artwork are placed.
  • Restricted Zone
    • Staff Zone – This is the area in which your crew does the work necessary to make the burn happen. If the burn includes a pyrotechnics show, the fire control station is within this zone.
    • Performance Zone – If the burn includes a performance component, this is where it occurs. Depending on the performance, it may incorporate prep areas (e.g., for fueling fire tools). There may be some overlap with the staff zone.
    • Perimeter Zone – This is the outermost ring of the restricted zone, occupied by members of your perimeter crew, who face outward toward the audience.
  • Perimeter Boundary – This is the line that marks the outer edge of the restricted zone. For some burns it may be marked by delineators and caution tape, while for others it is simply an imaginary line on the ground.
  • Audience Viewing Zone – This is the area where the audience is located and should remain until the perimeter is released.

Perimeter Layout and Features

Perimeter Size

The size of your artwork, the materials used in its construction, the types of fuels and total fuel load, and whether you plan on using pyrotechnics or staging a performance are all factors that go into determining the perimeter needed for burning your artwork. The exact perimeter size your burn requires will be determined at your project’s pre-event burn meeting with the FAST Artist Liaison.


For smaller and less complex burns a perimeter can be set with a small perimeter crew and without the need for a marked perimeter dividing line. Larger burns require a marked perimeter and must secure supplies such as traffic cones or delineation posts and caution tape.

Locations On and Within the Perimeter

To identify locations around the circumference of a perimeter, FAST, Rangers and ESD use a clock face oriented the same way as Black Rock City’s clock face. To identify a particular point on the perimeter, use its “time” on the clock.

Using the clock face, the burn circle is also divided into quadrants as follows:

  • 12:00-3:00 – Quadrant A (“Alpha”)
  • 3:00-6:00 – Quadrant B (“Bravo”)
  • 6:00-9:00 – Quadrant C (“Charlie”)
  • 9:00-12:00 – Quadrant D (“Delta”)

All members of your crew, and particularly the perimeter crew, should understand and use this scheme, to simplify communication with emergency responders and other support personnel.

Rally Point

Establish a rally point at a predetermined location on your perimeter. This is where all crew members will rendezvous after the perimeter is released, so that everyone can be accounted for. FAST recommends establishing your rally point at the 9:00 position for your burn team to be with FAST, and at the 3:05 position for all perimeter volunteers. Both positions must be clearly marked with a prominent visual identifier.

Safety Corridors

Large burns require that your perimeter plan include safety corridors (i.e., emergency entrances and lanes) for use by emergency and fire service vehicles. These should be placed at the 3:00 & 9:00 positions of your perimeter.

The Perimeter Crew

Management Structure

Management of the perimeter crew begins with the Perimeter Lead, and at least one additional layer of management for any but the very smallest of burns (i.e., less than 30′ perimeter radius).

Each quadrant of the perimeter should have a quadrant manager who reports to the Perimeter Lead, and who manages perimeter crew in that quadrant. If the quadrant has a frontage of 150′ or greater, introduce an additional layer of management between the quadrant managers and the people in the front line, so that no one in the chain of command needs to manage more than seven people.

Each quadrant manager (and their subordinate managers, if any) should make sure that every person in their quadrant knows:

  • their quadrant identifier,
  • where they are positioned on the clock face,
  • where the rally point is, and
  • that they must go to the rally point after the perimeter drops.
Crew Headcount

You will need a minimum of one front-line person on your perimeter crew for every 15 feet (4.5m) of the perimeter’s circumference. Some simple examples:

  • A 50 foot (15m) radius circle requires a 21-person perimeter crew
  • A 100 foot (30m) radius circle requires a 42-person perimeter crew
  • A 200 foot (60m) radius circle requires a 84-person perimeter crew
  • A 300 foot (90m) radius circle requires a 126-person perimeter crew

Note that these counts do not include the Perimeter Lead, quadrant managers or subordinate perimeter managers.

FAST will make the final determination on the number of people required for your safety perimeter crew based on all aspects of your project.

Crew Identification and Safety

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.

Perimeter crew members should have their eyes on the crowd watching for perimeter breaches, and should be ready to respond immediately. However, perimeter crew members also need to maintain situational awareness of what is going on behind them. Perimeter management personnel (quadrant managers and their subordinates) need to communicate situational changes to the resources they manage.

In the event of a perimeter collapse, make sure all perimeter crew members know not to allow a surging crowd to push them into the fire.

All perimeter crew members should know the location of the designated rally point, and should proceed there after the perimeter is released (or collapses prematurely) so that everyone can be accounted for.

Managing the Perimeter

Perimeter Crew Check-In

Set up a check-in location and time for your perimeter crew. A good location is the rally point where everyone working the burn will assemble when the burn concludes. Record the name of every perimeter crew member who checks in, issue them their safety vests, and hand them off to the appropriate perimeter manager.

Perimeter Establishment

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.

In the earliest stages of preparation (clearing the structure, loading additional firewood, etc.), you may be able to get by with a smaller perimeter than you will ultimately need for loading pyrotechnics or actually burning the artwork. In these early stages the focus is on preventing participants from straying into the area where your crew is working, to keep both crew and participants safe, and to allow the work to proceed uninterrupted.

As perimeter crew members show up and are checked in, you can either gradually increase the size of the perimeter, or hold them in reserve until the perimeter needs to be significantly expanded for pyro loading or other activities that need a larger perimeter.

Weather Holds and Other Delays

Be sure everyone on the perimeter crew understands that once pyrotechnics are loaded or accelerants have been applied to the structure, a change in the weather or other unforeseen circumstance could require them to be on the line for quite a long time, possibly even until morning.

Adjustments During the Burn

You may need to adjust the size or shape of your perimeter once the burn is underway, to account for changes in wind speed or direction, or for other reasons. Be sure your perimeter management structure can quickly and clearly communicate an order to all the front-line people in the affected area(s).

Perimeter Release

For a simple burn involving no pyrotechnics or other hazards that might remain after the structure collapses, the perimeter can be released as soon as no part of the artwork stands more than seven (7) feet (2m) higher than the Playa surface. For a more complex burn, the FAST Lead attending the burn will advise the Perimeter Lead when the perimeter may be dropped.

Premature Collapse of Perimeter

Every member of your perimeter crew must be aware of the possibility that the perimeter may spontaneously collapse, and how to stay safe if that should happen.

A perimeter collapse is most likely to occur when the audience has waited for what they judge to be an unreasonable length of time for a structure to fall. Once the crowd’s patience has run out, any significant fall of the structure, even if it does not result in everything in the fire zone being under seven (7) feet (2m) tall, and even if it occurs before all hazards on the ground have been mitigated, may be enough to cause a surge forward.

If this happens, the perimeter crew should not attempt to stop it. They should allow the crowd to bypass them, and should move away from the fire, since further collapses, late pyrotechnics ignitions and the like may cause the crowd to stampede back away from the fire. In the event of a perimeter collapse, all members of the crew should proceed to the rally point.

Perimeter Crew Check-out

However the perimeter is released, all perimeter crew members and managers (and all other crew members) should proceed to the rally point to be accounted for, and to turn in their safety vests and any other gear they may have been issued. Any crew member who fails to report to the rally point for check-out should be considered “missing in action”, and possibly injured or incapacitated, until they are located.

Managing the Burn

The day of the burn, the artist and the burn crew make the final preparations for the burning of the artwork. Below is a general timeline of what needs to be done to prepare for any burn.

Scheduled Burn Time

Although your burn time and day will be decided pre-event during your burn meeting, please confirm that time with FAST after checking in at the ARTery. While FAST will try to accommodate your preferred burn time, no guarantees are offered, and it may be changed due to weather, emergencies or other unforeseen circumstances.

Your Fire Safety Liaison is responsible for maintaining daily contact with FAST to stay apprised of any schedule adjustments or other advisories.


At least one hour before your scheduled burn time (or earlier, depending on the complexity of your burn) 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).

Refrain from applying accelerants to the artwork before the FAST Lead arrives. You can and should be making other preparations prior to that time, however, and continue making them after the FAST Lead arrives.

The FAST Lead is a knowledgeable resource who can help you troubleshoot last-minute problems with your preparations. If in doubt about anything, don’t guess: make use of the FAST Lead’s expertise.

The FAST Lead has final say over when you are allowed to:

  • Apply accelerants
  • Start your performance and/or pyrotechnics show, if any
  • Ignite the artwork
  • Release the safety perimeter

Establishing the Perimeter

See Managing the Perimeter above. As noted there, plan to establish the perimeter several hours ahead of time to allow for preparation of the structure, loading of pyrotechnics, etc.

Preparing the Structure

Once the perimeter is set and there is no danger of participants entering the work area, the preparations can begin. Examples include:

  • Clearing structure contents
  • Cordwood loading
  • Structural hobbling
  • Pyro loading

All pyrotechnic material must be listed and approved pre-event. An inspection of its placement will be required on-site at the discretion of FAST.

Final Checks and Approval

When all the above preparations are complete, the FAST Lead, Burn Lead and Pyrotechnic Operator if any will make a final check of the artwork, looking for any stowaways or stragglers, and checking for any hazardous conditions that may have developed while preparations were underway.

dIf liquid accelerants are needed, a fueling team applies them at this time after being given the clear by the FAST Lead on site, using methods documented in the burn plan and approved by FAST at the pre-event meeting. A member of your burn team must follow a fueler  with a fully-charged fire extinguisher  (and trained in their use)  while accelerants are being applied. Each fueler must be followed by someone with an extinguisher. After a final check and fueling of the structure, the “No-Man’s Land” zone of the burn circle is closed to further entry until the artwork is ignited and the structure has fallen.

Just before ignition, the FAST Lead checks the weather. Barring any high wind conditions or other negative weather factors you will receive an OK to burn from the FAST lead. The FAST Lead issues the necessary license(s) for your burn, and informs the Black Rock Rangers and ESD that the artwork is ready to burn.


At this time the final sequence of the burn, pyrotechnics and any ignition ritual can begin.

All of these elements of the burn must be conducted in a way that prevents premature ignition, to ensure the safety of the fuel team while they are in or near the fueled structure.

Important Note: No one on the fuel team should be tasked with the actual ignition of the structure, as there is a chance they will have fuel on their clothing.

Hazard Mitigation

Following structure collapse, for projects involving pyrotechnics the pyro crew must make a sweep of the pyrotechnics zone to check for unfired pyrotechnics such as mortars and gas mines. Any such materials must be neutralized before the perimeter is dropped. FAST will NOT allow a pyrotechnics crew member to enter a burning structure to check that pyrotechnics inside it have gone off.

Any unburned materials that have fallen beyond the burn shield must be thrown or pushed back into the fire. These items must not become tripping hazards for participants approaching the fire once the perimeter is dropped. If any rebar, ground screws/ground anchors or stakes are protruding above the playa surface that cannot be removed before the perimeter comes down, cones must be placed over them to alert participants.

Releasing the Perimeter

The perimeter can be released after:

  1. All hazard mitigations listed above have been completed to the satisfaction of the FAST Lead.
  2. No part of the artwork stands more than 7′ higher than the playa surface.

See Managing the Perimeter above for additional details.

Burn Aftermath

After the perimeter has been released, all members of the burn crew must be accounted for at the rally point at 3 o’clock. Perimeter volunteers must check out at the rally point at the 3:05 o’clock location where they checked in. Any crew member who fails to report to the rally point for check-out should be considered “missing in action”, and possibly injured or incapacitated, until they are located.

An overnight crew must stay with the embers to ensure participant safety and to prepare the area for clean up (LNT) in the morning. Do not allow participants to throw items that are not to be burned, like plastics or hazardous materials, into the fire.

Leave No Trace

The artist, LNT Lead and crew are responsible for all clean up at the installation site, both nightly and when the event ends. The area must be as clean as when you found it, and all MOOP you remove must be packed out of Black Rock City. This is what it means to LEAVE NO TRACE.

Think about playa clean-up while you are creating your artwork, both in terms of the usual trash that accumulates and extraordinary situations such as fuel spills. How will you prevent these things from happening, and how will you respond if they do?

You must have available at the installation all necessary clean-up tools and materials for both kinds of eventuality, such as shovels, rakes (including “magnetic rakes”), garbage cans (metal ones if you will be dealing with hot ashes), and sealable containers for storage and removal of spill-contaminated playa dirt.

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