Fire Safety Agreement: Pyrotechnics

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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.

Fire Art Safety Team (FAST)

Burning Man has developed 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 comprises artists, fire safety personnel and industry professionals who will Assist artists in the safe execution of Open Fire, Flame Effects, and/or Pyrotechnics in installations, theme camps and mutant vehicles. FAST will inspect artworks incorporating fire and issue the appropriate Burn License(s) once the artwork has been approved.

Two specific FAST positions will assist Artists in the success of thier artwork: 1) A FAST Artist Liaison will work with Artists and Fire Safety Liaisons during the pre-Event evaluation process, and 2) AFAST 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 Pyrotechnic Art

All artists and their crews are responsible for their own art. Because of the dangerous nature of pyrotechnics, no one may discharge pyrotechnic special effects or materials without the approval of FAST.

It is the responsibility of the artist to secure FAST approval for their pyrotechnic 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 discharge pyrotechnic special effects or materials 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, Perimeter Lead and LNT Lead.
  2. Complete and submit the art installation questionnaire, including:
    • Fire Safety Liaison name and contact information
    • Pyrotechnic scenario
    • 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.
  5. Your Fire Safety Liaison maintains email contact with FAST to ensure that all parties are notified of updates and changes.


  1. Check in at the ARTery, first at the main ARTery desk, and then subsequently at the FAST desk.
  2. Fire Safety Liaison maintains daily contact with FAST to stay apprised of any schedule adjustments or other advisories. Your show time must be confirmed with FAST at the event. FAST will try to accommodate your preferred show time, but no guarantees are offered.
  3. On the day of your show, a FAST pyrotechnics inspector will visit your site to inspect your placement of pyrotechnic materials, and may request changes to your setup for safety reasons.
  4. At least an hour before your scheduled show time, a FAST member designated as the FAST Lead for your show will arrive at your installation and rendezvous with your project’s Pyrotechnics Operator and Perimeter Lead. When all conditions for firing the show have been met, the FAST Lead issues the Pyrotechnics license (laminate) and the show may be fired.

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 pyrotechnic 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.

Fire Safety Liaison

The 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 discharged in accordance with the plan approved by FAST, and that the artwork will not be discharged while any identifiable safety hazards are present.

Pyrotechnics Lead

The Pyrotechnics Lead is responsible for all aspects of a project’s pyrotechnic display beginning with the planning and ending with the display itself. This role works closely with or may be combined with the role of Burn Lead if the display is part of an open fire burn. Specific responsibilities of the Pyrotechnics Lead include:

  • Supplying a complete list of all pyrotechnic products to be used.
  • Creating, in cooperation with the Perimeter Lead (and Burn Lead if any), a timeline for the show, starting from formation of the perimeter needed for the set up of the pyrotechnic devices and ending with release of the perimeter.
  • Planning for the safe placement of all pyrotechnic devices.
  • Detailed plan for the ignition of the pyrotechnics including crew placement and roles.
  • Detailed plan for hazard mitigation and a sweep for unfired pyrotechnic devices 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 show, and for working with the FAST Lead assigned to supervise. This role is outward-facing during the show, 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 Leave No Trace (LNT) Lead is responsible for organizing daily clean-up around the artwork (if it has any geographic presence that would become a gathering place for participants) and the post-show clean-up, which should begin immediately after the show and finish up the morning after. The person selected to be LNT Lead 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 trash cans.
  • Leading crew in both daily and post-show clean-up efforts.

The post-show clean-up includes pickup and removal of any 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 show). All MOOP removed must be packed out of Black Rock City.

Once the post-show 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.

Pyrotechnic Scenario

Your pyrotechnic scenario is a complete, detailed description of how you will prepare and shoot your show, any additional elements you will incorporate (such as performances), and how you will mitigate any hazards that remain in the immediate aftermath of the show.

The art registration questionnaire provides additional questions (see below) in which you will enumerate the types and quantities of pyrotechnic supplies (fireworks) and pyrotechnic special effects materials your show will use, so your scenario should concentrate more on how the different products will be used.

Weather Contingency Plan

Pyrotechnic shows are subject to cancellation or rescheduling in the event of adverse weather conditions. An essential part of your pyrotechnic 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 placed. 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 site from being entered while un-detonated pyrotechnics are present, to avoid participant injury.

Pyrotechnic Product Lists

For the “pyrotechnic supplies (fireworks)” please specify, for each different product: number of pieces, manufacturer name, product name and manufacturer’s product code or ID, for example: “6 × Brothers Pyro Golden Peacock Cakes (BP2112)”.

For the “pyrotechnic special effects materials” list the types and quantities of materials to be used, such as smoke cloth, pyro gel, etc.

Be sure to also obtain and print out material safety data sheets (MSDSs) for each type of product you will be using. You do not need to submit these MSDSs online, but you are required to have them on hand when you set up and shoot your show.

Layout Diagrams

The following layout diagrams are required:

  1. Installation Area Layout
    • Pyrotechnics setup, identifying types and quantities of products at each location, trajectories and fallout zones (indicate distances and dimensions)
    • Pyrotechnics preparation/assembly area.
    • Fire control station.
    • Perimeter safety zones: Show where the artwork stands in relationship to participants/audience/performers, indicating distances; note on the diagram how safe distances were determined.
    • Fire extinguisher locations.
    • Location of first aid kit with burn supplies.

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:

  • 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 material safety data sheets (MSDSs) 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 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, both nightly and after your show. Your LNT plan describes how you will accomplish this. At a minimum it should cover:

  • Nightly clean-up procedure, if applicable.
  • Post-show clean-up procedure, including specific details on clean-up of pyrotechnic debris.
  • Emergency clean-up procedures (e.g., for liquid fuel spills).
  • Clean-up tools and materials to be used

Safety Guidelines for Pyrotechnics

Please read carefully!

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

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.


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 products 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. FAST will work with you to provide a place for safe storage of your product onsite.

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 fire safety agreement for open fire in this questionnaire or in the open fire guidelines on the Burning Man website.

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.

Safety Data Sheets

SDSs 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 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.

Fire Extinguishers

The artist and their Fire Safety Liaison agree to keep available at the art installation at least one dry chemical fire extinguisher rated 3A:40B:C, for use in case of any accidental fire at the art installation. Note that this is a minimum. You should plan to have on hand as many fire extinguishers as necessary for the size of your installation and the nature of the fire hazards it presents. If you are unsure how many extinguishers you should have, FAST can advise you.

Not all fire extinguishers work for fighting all fires. You and your crew should understand which type of extinguisher is appropriate for each type of fuel present at your installation.

Dry chemical extinguishers are required where fuel is stored, as they provide the best way to put out a fuel fire. They do make messes that must be cleaned up after use. Also, dry chemical extinguishers start to lose charge after a single discharge and must be serviced and refilled.

Water fire extinguishers are useful for putting out fires involving wood, paper, fabric, and performers’ bodies. These extinguishers must never be used on liquid fuel fires, as they will spread the fire. Also water is a good conductor of electricity, so these extinguishers are a poor choice for fires where energized electrical equipment is present.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers are good responses to problems with fire props and fires involving electricity. They leave no residue and can be used repeatedly until they run out. But they work for small fires only. CO2 extinguishers are also good for putting out fires on people’s clothing, but use care near exposed skin, since the extinguishing agent exits the horn or nozzle at about -70°F/-56°C.

Wet towels must be available for response to accidental fire on a person (e.g., smothering fire on the face of a fire breather) or to extinguish fire props. Wet towels work better than duvetyn because (a) they both deprive a fire of oxygen and remove heat, and (b) they are more pliable and conform better to the contours of an object, making it easier to achieve an airtight seal. Wet towels can dry quickly in the arid playa environment, so be sure also to provide a closed container of water for re-wetting them, such as a cooler chest or a bucket with a lid.

First Aid

A basic first aid kit should be available and contain at least the following items for burn treatment and fuel exposure:

  • Non-petroleum-based burn cream or aloe vera gel
  • Several rolls of 100% cotton gauze and some large gauze pads
  • A jug of clean water for cooling burns, or flushing liquid fuel from eyes
  • Waterless soap for washing liquid fuel from hands

Cool a first- or second-degree burn right away with water, and continue cooling it for at least 15 minutes.

Severe burns, and fuel exposures to eyes, nose or mouth should be treated by ESD. Medical teams are available in Center Camp or in the plazas located at 3:00 and 9:00 in Black Rock City. In case of fuel exposure, be sure to provide a copy of the relevant MSDS to the responding medical personnel.

In case of fire on a person’s body or clothing, remember this rule: Stop, Drop & Roll! Many people have saved their own lives by dropping and rolling when their clothes caught fire.

  • STOP – Stop where you are and DO NOT RUN!
  • DROP – Drop to the ground; cover your face with your hands to protect your eyes and airway.
  • ROLL – Roll to put out the flames.

If you are near someone whose clothing catches fire, be sure to stop him or her from running and make them Stop, Drop & Roll!

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 paya dirt.

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