Safety Perimeters

Implementation of a Successful Burn

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 use fire in the ways that make our event one-of-a-kind.

Before you consider creating art that utilizes fire, you must take into consideration the following guidelines, compiled by Burning Man’s Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) to assist you with creating and exhibiting fire art safely. While we understand that these guidelines are extensive, it’s critical that you read them completely.

If you have any questions please contact:

General Questions: fire-art@burningman.org
Flame Effects: flame-effects@burningman.org
Pyrotechnics: pyro@burningman.org

Table of Contents: Planning for a Successful Burn

Step One – Pre-Playa Planning

– Read Safety Protocol Documents

Step Two – Pre-Playa Planning

  • Fire Safety Perimeter Manager
  • Perimeter Specifics
    • Zones of a Burn
    • Perimeter Size
    • Safety Corridors
    • Determine the Number of Safety Perimeter Crew
    • Identifying Perimeter Crew
    • Quadrant Zones & Perimeter Captains
  • Communication

Step Three – On Playa

  • Establishing a Perimeter
  • Create the Initial Perimeter
  • Ignition of a Burn
  • When to Drop the Perimeter
  • Contingency Plan
  • Clean Up and LNT
  • ARTery Check-out

Step Four – Post-Playa

  • Submit Burn Report

Step One: Pre-Playa Planning

Read Safety Protocol Documents

Please read the following web pages to become familiar with Burning Man’s policies on creating art and fire art for the event:

Art Installation Guidelines
Playa Protection / Burn Scar Prevention
Creating Dangerous Art Safely

Step Two: Pre-Playa Planning

Designate a Fire Safety Perimeter Manager

Designate two people from your team to be the Fire Safety Perimeter Managers for your project. These two people (the artist him/herself can be one, if necessary) will be the point of contact for FAST and the BRC Rangers.

The Fire Safety Perimeter Manager roles are similar to being a Stage Manager, and they should possess the following qualities:

  • Cool Head: ability to stay calm in the middle of chaos.
  • Good Organizational Skills: ability to coordinate and manage the perimeter crew.
  • Communication and People Skills: ability to communicate clearly at all levels, and communicate face-to-face instructions to perimeter team.
  • Understanding The Big Picture: ability to set up in advance and manage the chain of command, the timeline for the perimeter set up, performance, and the rendezvous point for perimeter team, ensuring everybody knows exactly where he or she should be, what to expect, what to do, and who is in charge.

Perimeter Specifics

Zones of a Burn

In preparation for a burn, the artist must clearly identify and set up the Burn Zones. The diagram below is an example of a 70’ radius perimeter. Starting from the inside and working outward, the Zones of a burn are:

  • Artwork – The artwork is at the center; this is the area where the burn itself will take place. Just beyond the artwork is the Fire Zone, where the structure may fall. No participants are allowed in this area.
  • Perimeter Dividing Line – This is the line that separates the audience from the Safety Perimeter Crew and is just inside which the Perimeter crew is stationed.
  • Audience Viewing Zone – This is the area where the audience is located.

perimeter24

 

Determining Perimeter Size

The size of your artwork, the materials used for its construction, the type of fuels and fuel load needed and if you plan on using pyrotechnics are all factors that will go into determining the perimeter needed for your piece. Each project is required to have a half hour phone meeting with FAST pre-event. During that meeting the exact perimeter distance will be determined.

Establishing Safety Corridors

Larger burns require that you plan for placement of fire/emergency lanes and entrances for emergency and fire service vehicles. To identify and divide quadrants, and create Safety Corridors, Burning Man uses clock face designations. Normally the Safety Corridors would be placed at the 3:00 & 9:00 positions (see diagram above). FAST will help you with this planning.

Determine the Number of Safety Perimeter Crew

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

  • 50 foot (15m) radius circle requires a 21-person perimeter crew
  • 100 foot (30m) radius circle requires a 45-person perimeter crew
  • 200 foot (60m) radius circle requires a 84-person perimeter crew
  • 300 foot (90m) radius circle requires a 123-person perimeter crew

FAST will make the final determination on the number of people required for your Safety Perimeter Crew based on all aspects of your project.

Perimeter Crew Identification

Make sure your Perimeter crew can be easily identified and distinguished from participants by the use of day-glo safety vests to be worn over their jackets or other outerwear.

Quadrant Zones & Perimeter Captains

For larger burns, divide the burn circle into four quadrants and number or name each one. Designate one person to take responsibility for each quadrant. Make sure everyone knows the name or number of his/her quadrant.  This will make the task of locating emergencies or other issues easier for all involved.

Communication

Clear communication at all levels is essential. We’ve found that radio communication is great help for all burns and is a requirement for larger burns. In the event of a perimeter collapse, make sure all perimeter staff know not to put themselves between a surging crowd and a fire. All staff should go to the designated rendezvous point so that everyone can be accounted for. We require 3:05 O’clock on your perimeter to be your rendezvous point for perimeter volunteers.

Step Three: On Playa

Establishing a Perimeter

Most perimeters should be set at least two hours before the performance/burn. This timing is dependent on the project’s size, intensity and the complexity of your pre-burn activities. Pyrotechnic performances should have a perimeter established before the pyrotechnic load-in begins and the perimeter must remain in place until after the site has been declared safe. This initial pyrotechnic perimeter can be a smaller perimeter depending on the size of the structure, quantity and type of pyrotechnic material being used. A member of FAST who is certified for pyrotechnics will discuss this with you prior to your chosen burn day. A sufficient supply of fire extinguishers should be on hand from the beginning of the perimeter set up and must be visible and accessible at all times.

Create the Initial Perimeter

Form a tight ring of teammates arm-to-arm around the immediate performance area. Together as a group, proceed at a slow pace outward towards the eventual perimeter to ensure that foreign objects and non-crew participants are not within the perimeter. Be assertive, but polite. You are the host, they are the guests.

Once the perimeter has been set, your perimeter team must be diligent in keeping audience members out. Remember, the perimeter is there for their safety. Sitting is not recommended for the perimeter crew, as it is too difficult to spring into action from this position. Squatting, or crouching with one knee down is better. All members of the perimeter crew should have a flashlight or head-lamp for visibility and safety.

Additional team members may be needed to stand back from the front line of the perimeter crew to catch anyone who makes it through the perimeter line (this does happen). Before the performance, this second line can stand in for perimeter crew members when they need a bathroom break. Also, have some food and water available for your crew, and encourage them to bring warmer clothing to wear under their safety vest for a cooler evening.

Working with your audience is very effective and good humor is essential. Make friends with the audience; it is crucial that they assist you. Perimeter crews always face the crowd, with your back to the art piece. If you do not set up a perimeter before the audience arrives, it’s really difficult to get them to move back. Also, do not be too concerned if the crowd yells things like “burn it!” The crowd can sound surly, but they are at your burn to see the show and have a good time, just like you and your crew. For large performances, ask the first three or more rows of watchers to sit down. This way everyone can see and the likelihood of a sudden large perimeter break is greatly diminished. The people who arrive earliest for a performance often have cameras and are more than happy to sit. Since they would prefer others don’t trample their set up, they are typically more than willing to help you. Remember that in holding a perimeter, the situation can change quickly. The crew needs to stay focused and flexible throughout the event.

Ignition of the Burn

A member of FAST will arrive a few hours prior to the scheduled time of your burn to identify themselves to the artists. This time will be confirmed with FAST on playa. Refrain from adding fuel to the artwork before the FAST member arrives. The FAST member will make a final check of your piece, and if all is in order, they will issue the burn laminate for your piece, and inform the Black Rock Rangers and the Emergency Services Department that your piece is on schedule to burn. You may then proceed to fuel your piece and complete your preparations to burn.

Just before the burn, a FAST member will check the weather. Barring any high wind conditions or other negative weather factors you will receive an OK to burn from the FAST member.

When to Drop the Perimeter

For simple burns not involving pyrotechnics or large amounts of liquid fuels, the decision on when to drop the perimeter is based on when the highest pieces of the artwork have fallen. The idea is that a hazardous situation exists until any components of the artwork over seven feet tall that may conceivably fall, have actually fallen.

For larger burns FAST will help you to make this decision. For projects involving pyrotechnics, and not scheduled to burn completely, the pyrotechnics crew must make a sweep of the area for unfired pyrotechnics materials before the perimeter can be dropped at FAST’s direction. FAST will NOT allow a pyrotechnics crew member to enter a burning structure to check that the pyrotechnics have gone off.

Once the perimeter has been dropped, it is important to make sure that any unburned wood or other materials that have fallen outside of the burn shield are thrown back into the burn. It is important that these items do not become a tripping hazard for participants approaching the fire. If there are rebar, groundscrews/ground anchors or stakes protruding above the playa surface cones will be needed to place over them to alert participants. Once the perimeter has been released an overnight crew will 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.

Contingency Plan

If your burn plan goes like clockwork, great! But on the Black Rock Desert, you must be flexible and patient to have a successful burn.

  • Having a back up plan (or two) is essential. One major factor to take into account is weather; the start of the burn performance may need to be placed on hold or cancelled and rescheduled for a different night.
  • Know where the fire extinguishers are. All perimeter crew must be trained in the use of and aware of the location of the extinguisher closest to them. Have the Safety Perimeter Crew ready to respond at a moment’s notice. They should have eyes on the crowd. In the event of a perimeter collapse, make sure all perimeter staff know not to put themselves between a surging crowd and a fire.
  • Rendezvous Plan – After the perimeter has dropped, all staff should go to the designated rendezvous point so that everyone can be accounted for. If possible, try to make sure the area outside the crowd is clear. In the event of a collapse, the surging crowd may respond by turning around and running back away from the fire.

The artist should be ready to stand by the art if the weather turns bad. A FAST member will be assigned to each burn and will be able to confirm your ignition timing. The FAST member will be the final word on wind and perimeter before the project can be lit.

Clean up and LNT

Post-burn, artists are also expected to completely clean the DG of debris. Completely cleaning the site of your burn is essential for the continuation of our event and it is your responsibility as the artist. Here is more information about burn clean up tools and LNT for fire artists.

ARTery Check-out

Once the burn site has been cleaned the artist should return to the ARTery to have an authorized ARTery team member return with them to the site of the burn. Only after this last review of your burn site will you be considered checked-out and able to leave the site.

Step Four: Post-Playa

In order to always improve we need to hear from you about your experiences with your burn. Artists will be required to write a short report post event describing what worked and what did not. This report is required before any DG deposits will be returned.

Questions

If you have further questions, please email fire-art@burningman.org

Fire in Theme Camps

The winds can pick up at any time on the Black Rock Desert, and untended or dangerously-constructed fires in theme camps can quickly throw sparks and embers long distances across the playa, and into other flammable structures. It’s imperative that each participant using fire do their part to keep Black Rock City safe.

If you’re planning on having fire in your camp, whether it’s open fire or flame effects, you must comply with the following rules. These are for your safety, the safety of your campmates, and all of Black Rock City.

Fireworks Prohibited in the Camping Area

We all love a good fireworks show, but the use of pyrotechnics within the camping area is a violation of both common sense and Burning Man’s event stipulations with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Pyrotechnics may only be used as part of pre-registered and approved art projects located on the open playa. Any other use of pyrotechnics is forbidden, and may result in steep fines and/or arrest by the BLM and/or Pershing County Sheriffs, and possible ejection from the event.

Also, as the hillsides surrounding Burning Man are in high fire risk status during the time of the event, the use of Sky Lanterns is forbidden at any time during the event, and may result in fines from the BLM and/or Pershing County Sheriffs.

Open Fire Within Theme Camps

  • The burning of any art installation, wooden structure, or other objects or materials in direct contact with the playa, or without appropriate fireproof containment, is not allowed in any camping area.
  • Open fire within the camping area is limited to simple burning of solid or unpressurized liquid fuels away from the playa surface and within appropriate fireproof containment (e.g., burn barrels or other raised containers, lanterns, candles, etc.).
  • Burn barrels or other containers should be secured against tipping over, and constructed in a way that the bottom surface is at least six inches from the playa to prevent baking or scarring of the playa surface.
  • No burn barrels or other open fire shall be left unattended. At least one camp member should be designated fire tender and be within visual distance at all times. If found unattended while lit, open flames or burn barrels may be extinguished and/or confiscated if there is sufficient threat of hazard.
  • If winds pick up, all open fire must be put out immediately and burn barrels must be extinguished if they begin to throw sparks.
  • Open fire displays greater than 10 feet tall should be secured from the wind and their safety perimeters increased appropriately.
  • Open fire or burn barrels must be extinguished at the request of any Ranger, FAST and/or Emergency Services personnel.
  • A 20 foot zone around the fire must be free of any combustible materials such as (but not limited to) cloth, paper, tents, plastic, etc.
  • A supply of at least five gallons of water must be kept on hand to extinguish wood fires in case of high winds or other hazards. Wind can blow embers and sparks a long distance across the playa!

Flame Effects and LP-Gas Appliances Within Theme Camps

Flame effects are allowed within the camping area, subject to all General Flame Effects Guidelines, plus additional considerations specific to the dense urban landscape:

  • The use of liquid-fueled flame effects is prohibited in the camping area.
  • If winds pick up, all flame effects must be put out immediately.
  • Flame effects must be extinguished at the request of any Ranger, FAST and/or Emergency Services personnel.

Note that store-bought, UL-approved patio heaters, fire pits, lamps and lanterns, cooking units and other unmodified UL-approved appliances that burn LP-Gas are not considered “flame effects” for purposes of this section. However due caution in using such appliances is still required, including but not limited to locating them sensibly, securing them from wind, checking them for leaks, and so on. Burning Man’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) has jurisdiction over all such appliances, and any request from ESD personnel to secure, relocate, or turn off of any such appliance must be accommodated.

Fire Performance Within Theme Camps

Please check out the Fire Performance page for more information and guidelines about safe fire performance in theme camps.

Guidelines for Flame Effects on Mutant Vehicles

Some of the most spectacular Mutant Vehicles seen on the playa incorporate flame effects into their design, blowing fire into the night sky. As amazing as this is, flame effects on Mutant Vehicles present unique challenges, due to the fact that the vehicles move about the playa and carry passengers. While the use of LP-Gas flame effects is permitted, using liquid fueled effects or open fire that cannot be instantly extinguished is NOT allowed on Mutant Vehicles.

Required Inspections

Note that your vehicle must be registered, approved and licensed by the Department of Mutant Vehicles before a member of the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) will review any flame effects. Failure to pass the DMV inspection will result in your not being licensed to drive your Mutant Vehicle on the playa.

FAST will inspect your vehicle’s flame effects at the Department of Mutant Vehicles on playa to ensure you’ve followed all the requirements for safely constructing and operating the flame effects. Failure to pass this inspection will result in your not being allowed to operate the flame effect on your vehicle.

Construction of Mutant Vehicle Flame Effects

When incorporating flame effects, Mutant Vehicle artists must not only follow the General Flame Effects Guidelines, but also take into consideration the following factors in the design and construction of flame effects for their vehicles:

  • The use of wood fires or liquid-fueled flame effects on Mutant Vehicles is prohibited.
  • Transporting open acetylene cylinders, and use of acetylene in flame effects on mobile art is prohibited.
  • Route your hoses inboard and away from hot exhaust pipes or manifolds. You will be moving and you could run into an unlit object on the playa or another Mutant Vehicle. All fuel lines should be protected from potential damage due to a collision.
  • It is possible that you may have participants on your vehicle. The routing of fuel and electrical lines should also be such that they cannot be damaged by someone grabbing them (say, while traveling over rough terrain) or tripping over them.
  • Fuel and electrical lines should be run in such a way as to prevent rubbing, chafing, impingement or other damage that may result from normal use of vehicle.
  • Fuel tanks must be mounted and secured within the vehicle so they are protected from damage caused by a collision with another vehicle or solid object, and where participants cannot step or stand on them.
  • Fuel tanks should be well ventilated; LP-Gas is heavier than air and in case of a leak will collect in low unventilated areas, resulting in risk of explosion.
  • The 1/4-turn main LP-Gas shut-off valve must be placed within easy reach of both the driver and the flame effects operator.
  • Flame should be well above the heads of participants: at least 10 feet (3m) above where any participant could stand, whether on the ground, or on your vehicle.
  • Flame discharges should be vertical whenever possible; no flame shall be angled closer than 45° to the horizontal.

Maximum LP-Gas Quantity for Mutant Vehicles

In order to ensure the safety of participants and Emergency Services personnel, Burning Man imposes limits on the quantity of LP-Gas that may be carried on Mutant Vehicles. These limits are consistent with regulations imposed by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT), as well as National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines.

  • The total Aggregate Gross Weight (weight of containers plus fuel when all containers are filled to their maximum permitted filling levels) shall not exceed 1000 lb.
  • The maximum number of containers shall not exceed ten (10).
  • The maximum size DOT cylinder shall be 1000 lb. water capacity (WC).
  • The maximum size ASME portable container shall be 200 gallon water capacity (WC).
  • ASME containers shall be designed for portable use, and shall have integral appurtenance protection.
  • Containers shall be installed on the vehicle to allow adequate ventilation and access to their appurtenances for easy closure in an emergency situation.
  • The containers shall be transported on the vehicle upright with the relief valve in communication with the vapor space preventing the venting of liquid LP-Gas.
  • Containers shall be secured to prevent movement during transportation.

The formula to obtain the aggregate gross weight of a cylinder is:

AGW = (WC × 0.42) + TW

where:

  • AGW = Aggregate Gross Weight
  • WC = Water Capacity (marked on cylinder)
  • TW = Tare Weight (the weight of the container when empty; marked on cylinder)

Below is a table of approximate Aggregate Gross Weights for several common LP-Gas cylinder sizes:

Cylinder Size

Aggregate Gross Weight

5#

15lb

10#

25lb

20#

38lb

30#

55lb

33.5# (forklift)

70lb

40#

72lb

43.5# (forklift)

88lb

100#

171lb

420#

711lb

Note that Aggregate Gross Weight is only one consideration in sizing your fuel supply. Regardless of the size(s) of the cylinders you choose, you are limited to a total of ten (10) cylinders maximum.

(If the maximum allowed quantity were to be determined by AGW only, a Mutant Vehicle could hypothetically transport 66 × 5# cylinders and be in compliance with the maximum weight rule. But 66 cylinders on a Mutant Vehicle is a lot of valves to close, a lot of connections that could leak, and a lot of relief valves that could vent. Therefore, Burning Man limits the total number of LP-Gas cylinders on any Mutant Vehicle to ten.)

Below are some examples of LP-Gas cylinder combinations that meet the requirements:

  • Ten 20# cylinders (380 lb.)
  • Ten 30# cylinders (550 lb.)
  • Ten 40# cylinders (720 lb.)
  • Five 100# cylinders (855 lb.)
  • Five 100# cylinders and three 20# cylinders (969 lb.)

Questions

Here are email addresses where you may direct questions concerning:

Flame Effects on Mutant Vehicles: dmv-flame-effects@burningman.org
Mutant Vehicles in general: dmv@burningman.org

Pyrotechnics Guidelines

There are good reasons why Burners say “Happy New Year!” when the Man burns. Yes, your year comes to revolve around Burning Man after a couple trips out to the desert. But the more obvious reason is that the thing blows up like New Year’s Eve to the power of the Fourth of July. For that, we can thank world-class pyrotechnics experts, and you don’t live to be one of those unless you practice the craft of exploding things very carefully, using the following guidelines.

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.

Safety Guidelines for Pyrotechnics

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.

ABSOLUTELY NO PYROTECHNICS SHALL BE USED WITHIN THE CITY OR CAMPING AREA.

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 product 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 in accordance with the NFPA 1124 code for storage of fireworks and pyrotechnic materials.

Pyrotechnic materials shall be secured in portable, fire-resistant, theft-resistant, weather-resistant magazines (or “day boxes”) that comply with the following provisions:

  • Magazines shall be used exclusively for the storage of pyrotechnic materials.
  • Each magazine shall be equipped with a padlock.
  • Magazines constructed of metal shall meet the following requirements:

    • They shall be constructed of 12 gauge sheet metal.
    • They shall be lined with a non-sparking material.
    • The edges of metal covers shall overlap the sides by at least 1 in. (25 mm).
  • Magazines constructed of wood shall meet the following requirements:

    • They shall have sides, bottoms and covers or doors of 4 in. (102 mm) hardwood that are braced at the corners.
    • They shall be covered with sheet metal of not less than 26 gauge.
    • Nails exposed to the interior of the magazine shall be countersunk.
  • No smoking, open flame, spark-producing equipment or storage of combustible materials within 50 feet (15m) of any magazine.
  • Proper signage of “NO SMOKING – FLAMMABLE” shall be visible from all four directions.
  • At least one handheld portable extinguisher with a 40-B rating is required for any pyrotechnics storage area. Extinguishers rated as ABC, AB, or BC will have a separate value for the B rating, which indicates the square footage of a class-B fire that a non-expert user should be able to extinguish with it.
  • Label magazines with your name, the name of your project, and the types and quantities of material they contain.

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 the Safety Perimeters section of the Open Fire Guidelines page.

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.

Material Safety Data Sheets

MSDS 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 the Fire Art Safety Team (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.

Questions

Here are email addresses where you may direct questions concerning:

Art installations in general: installations@burningman.org
Open Fire: fire-art@burningman.org
Flame Effects: flame-effects@burningman.org
Pyrotechnics: pyro@burningman.org

Registration and Approval

Read all about how to register your project and get it approved.

Flame Effects Guidelines

The primal simplicity of an open fire is great and all, but newfangled technology enables all sorts of spinning, swirling, squealing, pink-and-green fire magic, and Burning Man artists make full use of it. The thing is, flame effects involve lots of moving parts and high-pressure flammable fuels, so follow these guidelines to make sure you’re doing it right.

Flame Effect Definition

Flame Effect is defined as “The combustion of solids, liquids, or gases to produce thermal, physical, visual, or audible phenomena before an audience.” This includes all flames that are automated, switched, pressurized or having any other action than simply being lit on fire; as well as projects using propane or other liquid or gaseous fuels.

Safety Guidelines for Flame Effects

The majority of flame effects at Burning Man are Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LP-Gas) effects; LP-Gas is often commonly referred to as propane. Most of the guidelines below deal with LP-Gas as a fuel. Regardless of fuel type or technological basis, all Flame Effects must be constructed in such a way as to meet or exceed applicable laws, codes and industry standards.

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) publishes numerous codes and standards for the construction and use of LP-Gas systems, including:

  • NFPA 54 – National Fuel Gas Code
  • NFPA 58 – Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code
  • NFPA 160 – Standard for the Use of Flame Effects Before an Audience

NFPA documents are available for viewing and purchase on the NFPA website and should be reviewed by all Flame Effects artists.

Construction of Flame Effects

  • All LP-Gas cylinders shall be designed, fabricated, tested, and marked in accordance with the regulations of the US Department of Transportation (DOT) or the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code.
  • All LP-Gas cylinders must have an unexpired certification date stamp and be in good working order. Tanks in poor condition or out of date are a danger to fill and may cause injury to the fuel team, the artists, and/or participants.
  • Each LP-Gas flame effect must have a single 1/4-turn shut-off valve as the primary emergency fuel shut-off. When closed, this valve must inhibit all fuel flow to the flame effect, regardless of how many LP-Gas cylinders are connected to the flame effect. This valve must be exposed and visible at all times, and must be clearly marked as the emergency fuel shut-off.
  • All components of the fuel system (fittings, piping, valves, connectors, etc.) must be designed and rated for both the type and pressure of fuel being used. The use of improper fittings can lead to leaks and failures in the fuel system resulting in fires and or injury.
  • All LP-Gas metallic piping and fittings that will operate at a pressure greater than 125 psi shall be schedule 80 or heavier.
  • All LP-Gas Hoses that will be operated in excess of 5 psi shall be designed for a working pressure of at least 350 psi and shall be continuously marked by the manufacturer to indicate its maximum operating pressure and compatibility with LP-Gas.
  • Air or pneumatic line is not acceptable as fuel hose. LP-Gas degrades rubber hose not specifically designed for use with that fuel. This results in the hose cracking from the inside out, potentially leading to a catastrophic failure.
  • Hose clamps are prohibited on LP-Gas hose at any pressure. All fuel hose connections shall be factory made, or constructed with a crimped fitting specifically designed for that purpose. Hose clamps are well known for cutting and chafing fuel lines or coming loose, possibly leading to catastrophic failure.
  • All metallic tubing joints shall use flare fittings. The use of compression fittings or lead soldered fittings are prohibited.
  • Accumulators, surge tanks and other pressure vessels in the system shall be designed, manufactured, and tested in accordance with the ASME Boiler Pressure Vessel Code or the Department of Transportation (DOT) for the pressure of the gas in use.
  • Any welding alteration of pressure vessels, or alteration or fabrication of other system components that hold pressure, must be performed by an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) certified welder, and must be stamped and certified as such.
  • If the fuel supply pressure exceeds the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of an accumulator or other pressure vessel, a regulator shall be installed between the fuel supply and the pressure vessel to reduce the pressure below the pressure vessel’s MAOP. A pressure relief valve shall also be installed in the pressure vessel, with a start-to-leak setting at or below the MAOP and a rate of discharge that exceeds the maximum flow rate of the supply container.
  • Fuel tanks for stationary flame effects must be protected from vehicle traffic and be well illuminated at night.
  • flame effects should be constructed and sited in such a way that the flame head and/or hot components are at least six inches from the playa surface, to prevent baking or scarring of the Playa.
  • Any artwork, towers or other structures that incorporate flame effects should be secured from the wind and encircled with an appropriate safety perimeter to prevent injury to participants.

Operation of Flame Effects

Flame Effect Operators

Flame effects operators and assistants must be 21 years of age or older and be trained in the use of fire extinguishers.

Operators and assistants must wear fire resistant clothing while operating flame effects.

Personal Responsibility

No carelessness, negligence, or unsafe conditions with flame effects shall be tolerated. Do not drink, take drugs, or smoke when working with flame effects.

Safety Perimeter

An appropriate audience safety perimeter (and performer’s safety zone if applicable) shall be established well in advance of flame effects operation, and must be approved by FAST. Because of the variety of artwork that incorporates flame effects, a member of FAST will help you determine the correct perimeter distance.

In any case, a 20′ zone around the flame effects must be kept free of all combustible or flammable materials, and nothing should overhang this zone.

Fueling

Only people familiar with the safety considerations and hazards involved are permitted to connect/disconnect LP-Gas tanks, or to do liquid fuel filling. Wearing personal safety gear (glasses, gloves, etc.) during liquid fuel filling is required.

Daily Safety Check

A daily safety check of all flame effect components and connections is mandatory before operation begins. Never start operation of a flame effect until the daily safety check is completed. If a safety hazard is identified either during the safety check or during operation, the Fire Safety Liaison must delay or halt operation until the hazard is corrected.

Operating Guidelines

Never light a flame effect until all performers, safety monitors and participants are in place and ready.

Never operate a flame effect in such a way that it poses a danger to people or property.

Attending to Flame Effects

flame effects must never be left unattended. The winds in the desert are highly variable, and may create havoc in a poorly monitored installation. Any flame effect found running unattended will be shut down. Egregious and/or repeat offenses will result in the confiscation and/or disabling of the effect.

No Smoking or Open Flame

ABSOLUTELY no smoking or open flame within 10 feet any storage area where flammable liquids or fuel gases are stored. All fuel and flammables must be stored in approved containers which must remain closed except when filling or dispensing, or when connected to a system for use.

Material Safety Data Sheets

MSDS for any hazardous chemicals used in the construction or operation of the flame effect must be kept at the installation, so they are available to guide clean-up activities in case of a material spill, and to provide to emergency medical personnel in case of accidental exposure.

Questions

Here are email addresses where you may direct questions concerning:

Art installations in general: installations@burningman.org
Open Fire: fire-art@burningman.org
Flame Effects: flame-effects@burningman.org
Mutant Vehicle Flame Effects: dmv-flame-effects@burningman.org
Pyrotechnics: pyro@burningman.org

Registration and Approval

Read all about how to register your project and get it approved.

Open Fire Guidelines

Open fire projects can be as large as the Temple or as small and intimate as a fiery urn in the depths of the open playa. Fire can be a great way to bring folks together on a chilly playa night or to send your artwork to the spirits in a final fiery conflagration. Whatever the size, all fire platforms and containers need to be six inches off the ground. 

Open Fire Definitions

Open fire 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 types or levels of open fire, each with different characteristics, and each requiring different approval processes and safety procedures.

LEVEL ONE – Direct contact with the playa. A large sculpture burn in close proximity to the playa surface. A large artwork fully engulfed in flames produces a tremendous amount of heat, requiring a burn shield to prevent burn scars on the playa surface. Projects of this type typically require a safety perimeter, and may also require ranger and/or ESD support. A Burn License is REQUIRED for this level.

LEVEL TWO – Enclosed fire. 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. Artwork created in one location is moved to an approved burn shield platform at a different location for burning. The artwork could be burned on the Man platform after the Man has fallen, or 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.

Safety Guidelines for Level One Open Fire

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.

An Artist proposing an Open Fire Level One artwork must include a burn shield plan. FAST must approve your burn shield plan before you bring your project to the event, and must inspect and approve your burn shield in place, as constructed, before you may assemble or burn your artwork on it.

If the Burn Shield is NOT approved, Artist understands and agrees that the artwork will not be burned on the rejected burn shield platform. Violation of this Agreement by ignoring the guidelines and burning the artwork, or anything, on the open Playa, without prior approval will be cause for a $1,000 fine from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

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. The thickness and extent of a DG burn shield depends on the size and weight of your artwork. When spreading a DG layer, care must be taken not to leave any exposed areas, and to prevent the DG from being scattered by participants. Arrangements for the purchase of DG are made through Burning Man after the pre-event burn meeting between your project team and the FAST Artist Liaison. In addition to the purchase price, a deposit will be required to insure that the DG you use is thoroughly cleaned by your LNT team prior to removal after your burn.

You may propose a different burn shield design, but if you choose to do so, you must submit a dimensioned drawing of your proposed platform, showing enough detail to convince FAST that it will in fact provide adequate burn scar protection, and that it will be large enough to capture all pieces of the artwork as they fall. In this case you should also consider the following points:

  • YOU MAY NOT USE PAINTED WOOD OR PAINTED METAL. Remove paint from metal before bringing it to the playa.
  • Corrugated steel needs supports no more than two (2) feet (0.6m) apart to support the weight of walkers or heavy objects.
  • The space between the burn shield and the playa surface must be large enough to allow adequate air circulation during the burn.
  • Avoid using aluminum. Even moderately high heat (~1200°F/650°C) will cause aluminum to melt.

You can read much more about burn shields on our Burn Scar Prevention page.

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 is prohibited by law. Items that contain such toxic materials may include furniture, rugs, and many other objects typically used to decorate artworks. All such items must be removed from your artwork before it is burned.

Prevent Airborne Embers

Over the years we have found a short list of materials that when burned create excessive embers and floating burning materials. These loose sources of unintended ignition can cause issues for Mutant Vehicles at the burn perimeter and nearby Art projects.

Materials not to be burned due to embers include:

  • Fabric
  • Cardboard
  • Large sections of papier-mâché
  • Thin wood laminates
  • Plywood less than 5/8th inches thick
  • OSB, chipboard, and particle-board

Engineered and Glue Laminated Structural Elements

While Engineered and Glue Laminated Structural wood has excellent strength and may be useful in larger structures, it is also designed to be fire-resistant. Through experience, we have found that these type of beams can often end up mostly unburned and can remain upright long after the rest of the materials have burned. The result can be the need to hold the perimeter for the time that it takes for the remaining unburned sections to be made safe.

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. Read more about Managing a Burn Perimeter here. 

Scheduled Burn Time

Although your burn time and day will be decided pre-event during your burn meeting, please confirm that day and time with FAST after checking in at the ARTery. While FAST will try to accommodate your preferred burn time, it can’t be guaranteed, 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.

FAST Lead

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. 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, including:

  • 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 under way.

If liquid accelerants are needed, a fueling team applies them at this time, using methods documented in the Burn Scenario, and approved by FAST at the pre-event meeting. A fire safety team with fully-charged fire extinguishers in hand, and trained in their use, must accompany and cover fuel team members while they are applying accelerants.

After this 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 the Emergency Services Department that the artwork is on schedule to burn.

Ignition

At this time the final sequence of the burn, including performance, 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 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, and
  2. No part of the artwork stands more than seven (7) feet higher than the playa surface

See Managing the Perimeter 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. 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.

Questions

Here are email addresses where you may direct questions concerning:

Art installations in general: installations@burningman.org
Open Fire: fire-art@burningman.org
Flame Effects: flame-effects@burningman.org
Pyrotechnics: pyro@burningman.org

Registration and Approval

Read all about how to register your project and get it approved.

Leave No Trace for Fire Artists

Most of the information on this page relates to installation (on-playa) fire art, but much of it will be helpful even if your fire art is in your camp or on a mutant vehicle.

New Standard: Introducing the LNT Grid

  1. After checking in at the ARTery, you’ll be escorted to the site of your art project. The center of your project location is marked with a CD and a plastic marker (“floofy”).
  2. Additionally, the Floofy marks the center of your Leave No Trace (LNT) Grid, which delineates the boundaries of your Leave No Trace focus. You and your crew are responsible to line-sweep the LNT Grid in its entirety before we check you out to leave.
  3. Your LNT Grid will encompass the ENTIRE area that you and your crew and project occupy such as: art, staging areas, wood shop, metal shop, kitchen, trash, recycling, burn barrels, etc. This is both for the build site pre event, as well as the actual art installation site. For most projects (unless otherwise stated), you are responsible for a 50’ area outside of your project footprint, as well as any additional audience area. You are responsible for everything in this area, including trash left by other participants.

MOOP Public Enemy Number 1: WOOD CHIPS!

Also known as splinters, bark, sawdust, and wood debris. This is the biggest and fastest growing MOOP problem on the Black Rock Desert.

To prevent wood chips from getting to the playa in the first place, do as much pre-cutting off-playa as possible. If you must cut wood on-playa, do it in an enclosed area such as a shade structure with walls, and lay down a carpet which you can then roll up and carefully transport off-playa with the wood chips secured inside.

Where possible, choose plywood over particle board when building your projects, as particle board cracks and splinters more easily.

Pre-Burn Arrangements

To protect the playa from scarring from large-scale open fire burns, we offer the opportunity to arrange for the purchase of decomposed granite (DG) as a burn platform. Arrangements for this will be made after your Burn Meeting conference call with the Artist Liaison from the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST). The DG will be dropped at the center location of your fire art project.

All burn platforms must be six inches off the ground. 

NOTE: No decomposed Granite (DG) can be provided without prior pre-event arrangement.

Read more about DG burn shields on our Burn Scar Prevention page.

Post-Burn:

  1. Make sure that all large wood debris have burned down to nothing.
  2. Make sure that all metal debris, large and small, has been removed.
  3. Use a magnetic sweeper and landscape rake to easily pull up all small metal such as screws, nails, staples, etc.
  4. When your site has been deemed as clean as it should be by a member of the ARTery team, the Heavy Equipment team will be notified that the DG can be removed.
  5. Pick up all leftover MOOP using the line-sweep method, using the LNT Grid as your team’s boundary. Be sure to check off the art, staging areas, wood shop, metal shop, trash, recycling, burn barrels, etc.
  6. Using your LNT Grid as your guide, make your own MOOP map. It doesn’t have to be fancy but this information will be used to help the DPW Playa Restoration Team double check your area know where to focus their efforts on any problems before the BLM Inspection.

Deposit Return

A return of your project’s clean up deposit will be considered after a post-event LNT Report is submitted to the Art Department and the Playa Restoration Team.

Line Sweep Tips

  1. Think of the grid in terms of the Red, Yellow, Green just like the MOOP Map.
  2. Think of your first pass as more of an assessment pass. If an area seems RED and becomes too overwhelming, mark the area and focus on it on your second pass. Try to keep the Line Sweep moving until you’ve assessed the entire grid. Do a second and third pass of your grid until it’s Green.
  3. Your LNT Grid will be designed optimally for 30 people standing six feet apart but can be done with fewer people. The more people you have, the more territory will be covered and therefore go faster. The most important thing is to not be further away than 6ft apart from each other. 6ft apart is the optimum number.
  4. Orange Traffic cones placed at the edges of your LNT Grid work best at defining a visual boundary for your line-sweep team.

Orange traffic cones also work well visually defining a Red Area AKA “Hotspot” to come back to focus on.

Creating Dangerous Art Safely

“Basura Sagrada” Temple burn by Shrine, Tucker and the Basura Sagrada Collaboratory, 2008 (Photo by Thomas Fang)

Fire is the heart of the Burning Man event, and we encourage and support all types of safe fire art and pyrotechnic displays. The following information and guidelines are designed to promote the safe use of open fire, flame effects and pyrotechnics in your artwork, performance, theme camp or Mutant Vehicle. Please read this page in its entirety, as well as the other pages in this section that apply to your work. Thank you for burning safely!

Fire Art Safety Team (FAST)

Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) is a team of artists, fire safety personnel and industry professionals whose mission is to provide experienced support for fire artists and to ensure the safe use of fire at the Burning Man event. FAST assists artists in the safe execution of open fire, flame effects, and/or pyrotechnics in installations, theme camps and Mutant Vehicles. FAST inspects artworks incorporating fire and issues the appropriate Burn License(s) once the artwork has been approved.

There are two kinds of FAST personnel: 1) FAST Artist Liaisons work with artists and fire safety liaisons during the pre-event evaluation process, and 2) FAST Leads oversee any burns and/or pyrotechnic shows at the event. Take advantage of their knowledge and experience in planning your artwork.

Fire Art and Event Stipulations

Burning Man’s agreements with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management are in the form of event stipulations, which state that for public safety reasons, artworks using open fire, flame effects and/or pyrotechnics require safety inspection and approval in the form of a Burn License (laminate).

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.

Flame Classifications

Burning Man has created a set of definitions that will help participants understand and plan for the use of fire and pyrotechnics in art installations, camps and Mutant Vehicles. These definitions will be referenced throughout this section.

  • Open Fire is defined as simple burning of solid or unpressurized liquid fuels, without any enhancement by mechanical devices, extra oxidizers or pyrotechnic materials. Examples of open fire include burning sculptural installations, as well as burn barrels, braziers, oil lamps, torches, candles and other simple uses of fire. Read our Open Fire Guidelines.
  • Flame Effect is defined as “The combustion of solids, liquids, or gases to produce thermal, physical, visual, or audible phenomena before an audience.” This includes all flames that are automated, switched, pressurized or having any other action than simply being lit on fire; as well as projects using propane or other liquid or gaseous fuels. (Note: liquid fuel flame effects are not allowed in theme camps or on Mutant Vehicles.) Read our Flame Effects Guidelines.
  • Pyrotechnics refers to the art, craft and science of fireworks, which includes any explosives or projectiles. All pyrotechnic special effects material used in any art installation or performance must consist of consumer fireworks [1.4G Class C, UN0336] or less. Read our Pyrotechnics Guidelines.

Fire in Theme Camps

The use of flame effects and burn barrels is allowed within theme camps, but the urban density of the camping area of Black Rock City poses some additional challenges and issues.

A small burn barrel or flame effect at the entrance to your camp can be just the thing to help guide you and your campmates back late at night, but the reality of a tent fire or a more serious situation arising from its misuse is a threat to participant safety and the future of our event.

Each camp should designate someone who is responsible, not under the effects of drugs or alcohol, and present at all times to monitor fires and/or flame effects and be prepared to extinguish the fire if wind conditions kick up. For details, read our Guidelines for Use of Fire in Theme Camps.

Flame Effects on Mutant Vehicles

All Mutant Vehicles must be registered and approved by Burning Man’s Department of Mutant Vehicles. Flame effects are allowed on Mutant Vehicles, although liquid-fueled effects and burn barrels or other open fire are prohibited.

While all standards for LP-Gas (or “propane”) flame effects also apply to Mutant Vehicles, there are additional considerations specific to Mutant Vehicles that must also be addressed. For details, read our guidelines for Flame Effects on Mutant Vehicles.

Building the Temple

Spirituality and Community

The Process and Intention of Bringing a Temple to Black Rock City

By John Mosbaugh aka Moze

Out of the desert grew a ritual,
a celebration,
a participatory moment

Out of the moment grew a need
A need fulfilled by a temple
A place to let go,
to remember,
to celebrate

The temple became a tradition
It grew from the playa,
from the temporary city,
from the culture
Its methods were ours,
its tradition was ours
It became a part of our city

And a part of us. – Jess Hobbs

It is no mistake that Black Rock City is laid out the way it is. Changes to the City map have been made in the last 25 years to accommodate changing population, address new civic needs and create additional spaces for citizens to gather, be they Center Camp Café, the Plazas or the Man Pavilions. Rod Garrett has discussed at length the evolution of the city layout and with this evolution has come experimentation that has been lauded as revolutionary, organic and even fit for settlements on other planets.

About this photo...Part of this process has been the appearance of Burning Man’s Temple. David Best and Jack Haye brought their Temple of the Mind to the playa in 2000, a structure that would become the first of a long line of Temples. When their friend and fellow Temple builder, Michael Hefflin, tragically died in a motorcycle crash prior to leaving for Burning Man, once on playa, the art installation became a memorial to him.[1] David and Jack both talk about how Black Rock City citizens had a spontaneous reaction in the Temple and began leaving remembrances to people they’d lost. In 2001 David and Jack brought the Temple of Tears also called the Mausoleum, and the tradition of the Temple at Burning Man began. There has been a Temple every year since; David Best being the lead artist for half of them to date, with the other Temples built by a wide range of artists.

This article explores the serious nature of the Temple and its cosmological importance as part of Black Rock City and as part of our shared Burning Man Culture. It discusses artistic and skillset competence as well as what part volunteers take in the process of a Temple build and how that is different from most other large scale art installations.

Burning Man takes the Temple seriously, and while just about everything at Burning Man is amplified both figuratively and literally, the Temple is also amplified, but not with booming music and wild ecstatic dancing or with art cars that slither along the desert floor or with other lunatic cacophony. While the Temple is something that does reflect the mad masquerade and joy of our community, it does so with sacredness, solemnity, a sense of remembrance, grief and renewal that can appear as a stark contrast to the rest of the event. It is that contrast that helps to define the Burning Man community as anything but one dimensional.

About this photo...Other tangible representations of the Burning Man ethos such as Burners Without Borders and Black Rock Solar also serve the purpose of defining our community. We are very much about absurdity and expression, but also we are deconstructing prevailing ideologies of what is “normal” and creating postmodern expressions of service and civic duty with a common theme of healing ourselves and the planet we inhabit.

Artists who build Temples in Black Rock City are not just building a large scale art project. They’re creating something for the community and fulfilling a civic need as caretakers of that venerable space. One of the first questions one should ask themselves if they want to propose an idea for a Temple is not “WHAT am I doing this for?” but rather “WHO am I doing this for?” from what I have ascertained after talking with some of the artists who have built Temples at Burning Man.

Structure of Passage and Hierophany of Black Rock City


About this photo...A long trail of rites and initiations [2] lie along the central spine that begins just off the highway pavement and on to Black Rock Desert. Pilgrims to Burning Man move through porticos of the Gate, up Black Rock City’s entrance road flagellum, past Burma Shave signs that educate the anticipation-drenched denizens in carnival conveyances with values and initiations, up through the Greeters station and into Black Rock City proper. Once inside the circle streets of the City, the backbone continues through Center Camp and through Center Camp Café where you are presented with a choice of staying where you can still purchase things like coffee and ice and can be entertained (or entertain). Or you may, hopefully, continue on your journey.

Moving along the walkway from the Café, you encounter the Keyhole; an imaginary last point before you step across the Esplanade into an unknown realm where nothing but art awaits you. If you choose to wander up the spired promenade to the Man you will reach what has been called the “Axis Mundi” of Black Rock City. This concept has been discussed by Lee Gilmore in her book Theater in a Crowded Fire [3] and on the Burning Man Blog where she writes, “The placement of the Man at the BRC’s center readily evokes what historian of religion Mircea Eliade called the axis mundi-a symbolic manifestation of the sacred center of the cosmos and the location of hierophany-the eruption of the sacred into the profane world.”[4]

About this photo...Eliade and Arnold Van Genep figure heavily in the ontological conception of the layout of Black Rock City. 2003’s theme Beyond Belief was born partially out of Eliade’s (and Rudolf Otto’s) writings[5],[6] and 2011’s theme, Rites of Passage, drew heavily from Van Gennep’s book [7] of the same name. These ideas are integral to the intellectual foundation of the layout of Black Rock City that Larry Harvey has noted is “open in the front, open to infinity”.

The spot along that grand promenade that stands as the last large gathering point before reaching the sprawling “wholly other” outer playa, is the Temple, beyond which are a scattering of projects out to the trash fence and that symbolic infinity. The Temple is at the edge of where we bring order to chaos. It is where our community goes to unburden themselves.

Why is this talk of cosmology important? We know how to get to the Temple from the highway.

About this photo...Burning Man is known as one of the biggest parties on earth. It is also well known as one of the pre-eminent places for public art, large sculptures, art cars, participatory experience and alternative culture. However Burning Man is not just an art gallery, a rave, a camping trip or a place to discover something new about yourself. It is not just a hopeful phenomenon or some incarnation of a Dionysian festival. It is the sum of all these, and many other things. There was a time when Burning Man was just a weeklong event in the desert, but that is no longer the case. It’s now something that exists throughout the world, appearing in many different iterations with different purposes as organizations such as Black Rock Arts Foundation, Burners Without Borders, Black Rock Solar, the Burning Man Project or in the Regionals. These entities all share a common ethos and shared community values, even if we are a diverse bunch.

What we have in Black Rock City is a microcosm of humanity. Within this microcosm is what M. Eliade called a profane or mundane world; meaning that which is not sacred. In our realm of Black Rock City, we have plenty of cacophony, satires of every known aspect of the world we live in, fantastical art, a critical mass of events espousing our shared concern and curiosity, and a community all living together for that week to cross pollinate each other with our ideas, aspirations and evolutionary inclinations.

About this photo...The theory goes that as societies mature, and their intellect develops, mythologies are created to explain the human condition. Larry mentioned this in his Viva Las Vegas speech as we’ve “learned that we need myths and stories that can tell us who we are. [We’ve] learned that we need unities of time and place, a coherent theatre in which to act out life’s drama: a place you can belong to. The prospect of such things, this idea of a greater home on earth, is extremely attractive to human beings.” [8] From myths that we create springs Eliade’s concept of hierophany [9]; the creation of sacred spaces. Alexei Lidov [10] further suggests that the creation of sacred spaces at first happens because of what he calls “heirotopy” the “creation of sacred spaces regarded as a special form of creativity,” Lidov’s idea is that the hand of man creates, influences and brings into existence a place where “Every sacred space implies a hierophany, an eruption of the sacred that results in detaching a territory from the surrounding cosmic milieu and making it qualitatively different”.

In the sphere of Black Rock City, the Temple delineates the profane or mundane from the sacred and that juxtaposition provides a framework for Burning Man to have a deeper significance than if it were just a weeklong festival in the desert.

About this photo...With this in mind, I asked David Best if he thought that the Temple would have come into existence eventually if he and Jack Haye hadn’t built that first Temple. I’ve mentioned before that David Best can be quite a charming man, with blue piercing eyes that look into you when you’re speaking. He listens intently to people who come to him and there is an endless stream of people who want to talk with him. When I asked that question he told me a story.

“Do I think it would have come? Well gee, that’s a vanity question you’ve asked me.” He laughed and sarcastically replied, “Don’t know where I’ll go with that. Y’no, I’m the greatest guy in the world.” Then he continued,

“I went down and talked to [a large computer company] and they call their place a campus. They have a barber shop, you can get a haircut. There were three different restaurants, at their campus. I forget how many people are there, 2,000, 3,000 people. If you feed that information into a computer, for 2,000 people, at least three of them are going to have lost a family member. And they don’t have any place in their campus to address [that] and they want to profess that they’re building a family yet they don’t have a place to address the loss of a family member.”

“It’s like, when Burning Man built up that population, we all of the sudden needed that. It was just an obvious absence. There was a void that no one really noticed. They got the porta potties, they’ve got the police station, they’ve got the medical and they’ve got the Man. They just didn’t have a place for grief. And the Man kind of did grief for a while, but it was a mixture of so much celebration that it was hard to really have a quiet place.”

“So in all truthfulness, it would have happened sometime. The fact that I was lucky enough to do one is a lucky punch.”[11]

The Process of Building a Temple

There is a lot of empty space to fill up in Black Rock City.

People interested in building the Temple each year submit proposals to the Burning Man organization to basically do what Larry has said is one of the main purposes of Burning Man, “To blend life and art so you can’t tell the difference.”

About this photo...I spoke with a lot of people when I was researching what it took to build a Temple. Obviously, if you think you have the skills and resources to build a Temple at Burning Man, you’ve successfully built large scale art installations out there before and you’re well aware of the challenges you face. You understand how to keep a team productive and cohesive. You have tools and access to places to prebuild the Temple. You can build something that is safe, accessible, finished, and that won’t require last minute fixes just to get it standing and safe enough for Burning Man. You understand what “dust days” are and how to incorporate them into a project timeline. You have a group of people with mad sets of skills and a drive to try to pull off something as difficult as building something at Burning Man that everyone will notice and have an opinion on how you did.

Every person I spoke with told me that a Temple build is something so important to the community that there’s a lot of pressure to get it done on time and to have it ready for when Black Rock City citizens begin arriving on Sunday. The Temple isn’t an art installation that can be in the process of going up throughout the week. It isn’t the kind of installation that can be bailed out on playa at the last minute. It is something that only those who have proven they can handle a large scale installation should even think about attempting.

Everyone has their own style of getting it done. The most important thing is that it gets done and I was fortunate enough to talk to some of the people who have done that.

About this photo...Bill Codding who’s worked on several of David’s Temple told me their crew has a flat structure, with David running the show and all the volunteers taking direction from him. They have a head framer and people with skill sets in routing, carpentry and who can train the volunteers, but everyone has the ability to work on what they want to with David orchestrating everything. They have about 300 people on the Temple crew who have worked on various Temples over the years and Bill has a list of people he can call on, but getting volunteers isn’t an issue, as there are plenty of people who always want to work on the Temple.

At the work site in 2012, weeks before the Temple was opened, Chunk, aka Richard told me that about 1/3rd of their crew are skilled laborers and “There’s lots of on the job training and I’m working with David for the artistic and community experience. You don’t get that in everyday life. Seeing people enjoy it. The overall creation is a thing of beauty in the flames. It has a phoenix affect and is catharsis for so many people. We’re all contributing to Black Rock City’s Temple as a place of grieving. It’s a sacred space, not a disco.”[12]

About this photo...I also spoke with Jess Hobbs who in 2010, along with Rebecca Anders and Peter Kimelman designed and headed up the building of the Temple of Flux. Their group had an existing infrastructure of people who had worked together on a bunch of projects and they came at it with all their combined knowledge. They put together a team that included structural engineers and experienced carpenters. They also included novices because a big part of their organization’s passion is having people learn new skills by building collaborative art. Jess stressed that a project as large as the Temple also needs to have an extensive Administration team to handle Finance, Fundraising and to organize resources and volunteers. They were able to successfully utilize the Burning Man social network and effectively advertise their fundraising efforts at mainstream publications like CNN and Fast Company.

About this photo...Jess also mentioned that past Temple builders were helpful when they had questions, notably David Umlas and Marrilee Ratcliffe who had built Fire of Fires Temple the year before in 2009 and Tuk Tuk and Shrine who built 2008’s Basura Sagrada Temple. The Burning Man artist community is a dynamic one where collaboration and knowledge sharing is paramount and the sum total of Temple building knowledge is accessible for the most part.

About this photo...I was talking with Jack Haye about how things developed with the first Temples. How did elements of the Temple come about? He was the original Construction co-ordinator and continues to consult with David when he is building the Temple. Jack explained how the original Temple was a project built by their camp. He talked about the organic spontaneity of things that became part of the Temple; the original dinosaur cutouts they discovered that were recycled to create the ornate decorations, the found wooden blocks on the property David and Jack had their studios on in Northern California, that became pieces of wood where people inscribed names of their loved ones to be burned. He told me how there was an evolution of elements such as the central structure (an altar, or with the Temple of Juno, the chandelier) being a remembrance to people who took their own lives.

About this photo...Each time a new artist takes on the Temple, they re-imagine it, but bring elements of what has become a structural definition along with them. The Temple of Flux was probably one of the biggest departures from previous Temple designs and they intentionally refashioned the conventional idea of the Temple, but even then they created a space and in that space had “caves” for memorials. They also kept one of these caves as a remembrance place for suicides. Basura Sagrada, headed by Shrine and Tuk Tuk conceptualized the Temple as their “Sacred Trash” concept with the goal of making “something amazing and exotic out of materials deemed unworthy, the stuff we throw away every day. And while it is obvious that making something beautiful out of refuse is a political act, the question we hope to answer with this project is whether it can also be a spiritual act. We believe that it can.” [13] Mark Grieve built two Temples with the Temple Crew, 2005’s Temples of Dreams that utilized space in a village of shrines, pagodas and spires around a central Temple and the Temple of Hope in 2006 that featured a grand central stupah. In 2011, Chris “Kiwi” Hankins, Diarmaid “Irish” Horkan and Ian “Beave” Beaverstock and the International Arts Mega Crew (IAM) set out to build the largest Temple ever brought to the playa using “49,360 lineal feet of Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified lumber” [14] The Temple of Transition was massive, with five towers connected to the main tower by arching walkways.

Jess Hobbs put it really well when she told me “Burning Man is an experiment and the Temple should also be an experiment.”[15]

Volunteers and our Community

About this photo...One thing unites all Temple builders. They are building something that is all inclusive and for all Black Rock City citizens. As such, certain design elements have been carried forward with each reinterpretation of the Temple including creating a space that is both intimate, with areas (often called altars) for folks to leave tributes, as well as creating a large enough gathering space capable of holding hundreds (possibly a thousand) at a time, so that it’s a true community area.

When I was hanging out with David Best’s Temple crew I noticed that, like most projects at Burning Man, the volunteers care deeply about the Temple, but there is an added dimension to this particular project. Many of them have lost someone close to them and the Temple has helped them to grieve and let go. Every person on the Temple Crew I met told me that when they heard David was building the Temple in 2012, they wanted to work with him. The process of building a Temple, for a majority of the Temple Crew, is cathartic in the same way the Burn of the Temple is and many of them feel they are contributing in remembrance of someone they’ve lost.

I asked Jess Hobbs about volunteers. The Flaming Lotus Girls, and now the Flux Foundation have a lot of members. How did they handle the influx of people who wanted to work with them? She said, “We had a lot of people come to us to work on the Temple. We took into consideration if they’d worked on Temples before and we tried to accommodate everyone” then she added that “The Temple attracts people who are grieving and in the process of letting go. We had some really heavy moments with people, especially the day before we burned it.”

About this photo...Tuk Tuk talked about how so many people volunteer to make “The Temple part of their own. They wanted to touch a piece of it.”[16]

The Temple Guardians are another volunteer phenomenon who appeared organically in 2002. Part of their purpose of “holding space” is “to protect the Temple and all of those who visit it” and they state “We do not make rules, nor are we enforcers; we watch quietly and act skillfully when necessary to protect the safety and sacred space of the Temple.” [17]

About this photo...David Best handles his volunteers with such empathy it was something that helped me develop a deeper understanding of what the Temple is all about. Watching him interact with his crew by taking time no matter what was happening and to listen to them, console them and help them through whatever process of letting go they were going through, was pretty intense and demonstrated to me one of the reasons our community is something I care so deeply about. There are other memorial art installations that come to the playa year after year, but the Temple has become a focus of so much of that energy that not only is it moving to see it in action, it is important for people to realize just what kind of a burden they are taking on if they want to propose building a Temple. Volunteers will appear who have motives that are deeper than simply “getting the job done”.

I talked with David Best about his volunteers and he told me the story of a woman who, while she had few skills that could be tapped to build a Temple, wanted passionately to work on it. David had been in a discussion about building the Temple with another artist who mentioned that they thought there would be no room for someone like this woman in his crew if he were to build the Temple.

David relayed that the woman had said,

“I can’t do anything, I have no skills, but I want to be on the Temple crew”and he continued,

“We were going, how we are going to deal with her? And she came up to the work weekend. I thought maybe we can just tire her out. Maybe she can just see for herself that she can’t do it. Well, she didn’t quit. She didn’t quit. And we finally went, she’s gotta be on the crew and she came up to me in line, we were at lunch one day working on the Temple, and she came up and said, “I want to thank you for letting me be on the crew” and I said we wouldn’t be worth a shit if we didn’t let you on the crew. We wouldn’t be a Temple crew if you couldn’t work with us.”

David told this to the other artist who said “Well you know you can’t have people who slow your project down.”

David replied, “You don’t build a temple for the finished product, you build it for the crew. It’s for those people who are building it. I could build a temple with 20 people in half the time. I’ve done it in half the time. But what it would lose is its soul and the heart. And that comes from P being in a wheelchair or T being unable to do that, or someone else who’s artistically challenged or someone who’s challenged using tools. It’s those layers of the commitment from those people.”

“We’re talking about other people coming to build it and I’m saying that in the screening process of someone saying hey I want to build the Temple; we kinda have to look for what the intention is. Is it to make a spectacular, the biggest burn you can possibly make? I mean that’s kinda cool, but there’s gotta be something else.”[18]

Someone sitting at the table with us said, “It has to spiritually resonate” and David agreed.

Intention

About this photo...When we think about intention, we should return to the question artists who want to build a Temple should ask themselves, not “WHAT am I doing this for?” but rather “WHO am I doing this for?”

Jack Haye told me that their camp in 2000 and 2001 that created the original Temples was called Sultan’s Oasis, and their themecamp description was:

“The Sultan’s camp is to be a place where you can prostrate yourself before a greater entity and find transformation” and in 2001 it was “The sultan is back at his oasis, offering weary travelers a place to rest.”

About this photo...Jack said their philosophy was one of service and that is something that needs to be impressed on people who attend Burning Man. Jack said that “in camp we would invite people in and say ‘How can we serve you’, not touchy feely, but ‘How can I help you?’ And the Temple is like that. It’s a shared community art piece. Some people want to build it to become rock stars but it’s really all about that service.”[19]

Jack doesn’t see the Temple as a resume builder. It belongs to Black Rock City. It is a work of art, but it doesn’t exist as a piece of art unto itself. There are plenty of pieces each year on the playa that exist for themselves, as beautiful sculptures. The Temple is different.

Jack said, “It’s not there to call attention to itself, it is there as a sacred, spiritual space.”

Sealed Up, Never to Return

About this photo...Personally I was ambivalent about the Temple until this year. One year in the mid aughts, I put a picture of my grandparents in there with a goodbye and good luck inscription to them. Another year I made a little shrine to my dog of 16 years who I had to put down, but this year, after hanging out with so many people and hearing their stories of loss and letting go of that loss, of forgiving themselves and of taking part in building the Temple or of leaving totems to their loved ones that, as David Best has said, “everything is sealed up, never to return”[20] I came to an awareness that the Temple once complete and filled with remembrance is something consecrated and very significant to our community.

On Sunday night I walked out to the Temple burn and hung out, unexpectedly, in the Temple Bus with two new friends, one who was celebrating her mother who’d died 19 years ago. My friend had been allowed to get on a boom lift to place her mother’s ashes in the spire towards the top and her mom was next to a cat which delighted my friend. She said. “We celebrate the dead, but life is for the living. She’s been with me for 19 years, and she’s next to a cat. She always loved cats.”

About this photo...Bagpipes played. Diva Marisa and Reverend Billy’s choir sang “Ave Maria”, and the three of us took swigs of Jameson befitting an Irish wake as the full moon inched towards the Temple. Once the Temple was lit by wandering purposeful shadow shapes in the courtyard carrying fire, we watched the roaring orange and red flames grow then engulf that structure until it became a delicate black skeletal outline against the glowing blazing inferno. I hugged my friend and saw the flames in her eyes as she looked on smiling, and said, “Mom has the east, the best view on the playa. Her and the cat.”

When the spire outline grew thin, it finally leaned over slowly, and then collapsed upon the rest of the Temple sending a great chimney of embers floating upwards. My friend said, “Mother is free and so am I now. I really feel her. She would have liked this.”

I have no doubt she did, indeed, like it.[21]

Conclusion

I have attempted here to discuss the cosmological importance of the Temple as it appears in Black Rock City and to impress that it is a vital part of our shared Burning Man experience. The Temple is not just an art installation, but it encompasses a large range of serious spiritual requisites that add dimension to our community. Building a Temple in Black Rock City requires not only artistic and craft skillsets, and is something that is taken very seriously by our community, but along with it comes a set of volunteers who want to be part of it, to build and to protect it. As such, the Temple is something special and is, in one way or another, shared by all of us.

About this photo...As with all Honorarium projects, each year’s Temple crew is expected to create something extraordinary, on time and within budget, but building a Temple also involves a substantial responsibility to not only the citizens of Black Rock City and the Burning Man community in general, but to the volunteers who will want to take part in the building of the Temple. It is something bigger than any artist who conceives and pulls it off because it is something that helps to define who we are as a community. It is about creating a shared space for everyone to take a part in, as Sarah Pike notes the Temple is “Burning Man’s largest collective piece of art.”[22]

When they were building the Basura Sagrada Temple, Shrine said, “You are putting in what you want to let go, or putting in how you want to change your life. It’s what makes a sacred space.”[23]

About this photo...In 2012 David designed thresholds to keep out bicycles and the distracting sound from art cars. Upon venturing out there, I felt like I was stepping across that threshold into another reality. The atmosphere was heavy with reflection and quiet chanting, prayers, the drawn out grrr of a digeridoo and other reverent sounds. I was overwhelmed with all the notes and altars, inscriptions, photos and totems that covered every square inch of the walls staring back at me. That most intimate space swells with so much grief and remembrance, so much reflection and meditation it is indeed what David Best has called an “emotional nexus”. The Temple provides a space for that essential urge, but unlike religion, that feeling is coming directly from our core, unadulterated by dogma.

Creating this place carries with it a heavy responsibility and should not be taken lightly.

About this photo...Whoever is building the Temple each year brings it to our city as a gift for everyone. A friend of mine said “It’s a profound space. If people can’t confront it, they want to escape.” If you have been fortunate enough to not have experienced something that rocked your reality, you may have no use for the Temple. But if you ever need it, someone will be building it for you each year in Black Rock City.

Jess Hobbs told me, “We wanted to bring back the silence of the Burn. It was a gift and the Temple was the biggest thing we’d ever burned. It was a gift we gave to the community, but the biggest gift we ever got was what the community gave back to us.”

I’ve been to many Temple Burns over the years, but this year as I was trying to understand on a deeper level what it all meant, I felt that I’d come closer to realizing what a gift all our Temple artists, volunteers and playa citizens create each year. It is all about affirmation, closure, forgiveness and healing. On Sunday of the event this year I tried to describe how it feels to be there as a Temple burns and wrote the following that is not concerned with the how and why, the philosophy and meaning.

It just is.

About this photo...“Tonight the Temple burns and all of the emotion we’ve put in there this week will wash up in a cathartic column of fire, sparks and ash that will send those notes of love and loss and of grief and forgiveness swirling into the night sky. Dust tornadoes will form and dance around us as if they are our loved ones lost, caressing us in the firelight’s glow, saying do not worry, everything is as perennial as the seasons, or the plants that return each spring or the love that brings us all together eventually.”

Huge Thanks to everyone who contributed to this article by letting me interview them and thanks to Portaplaya, aka Todd Gardnier who took many photographs this year of the Temple and those who build it.

Also, there is an accompanying blog post where you can record your comments to others’ comments about your thoughts on this article.


[1] Lori Van Meter. “The Temples at Burning Man”, 2007 http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ptb/mso/dd/dd5/VanMeter%20paper.pdf p. 3.

[2] Moze, Initiations and Salutations. Burning Man Blog. http://blog.burningman.org/2011/07/culture-art-music/initiations-and-salutations/ 2011.

[3] Lee Gilmore, Theater In A Crowded Fire (University of California Press 2010)

[4] Lee Gilmore, The Temple: Sacred Heart of Black Rock City. Burning Man Blog. http://blog.burningman.org/2010/05/spirituality/the-temples/ 2010

[5] Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (English Translation, Harcourt, Inc. 1957)

[6] Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy (Oxford Univ. Press 1923)

[7] Arnold Van Gennep, The Rites of Passage (Univ. of Chicago Press 1960)

[8] Larry Harvey, Viva Las Vegas, Speech at Cooper Union, New York City, https://burningman.org/culture/philosophical-center/founders-voices/larry-harveys-writings/viva/ 2002.

[9] Op. cit. Mircea Eliade, p. 26

[10] Alexei Lidov, Hierotopy. The Creation of Sacred Spaces as a Form of Creativity and Subject of Cultural History http://www.imk.msu.ru/Publications/lidov/01-Lidov-eng.pdf (Progress-tradition, Moscow) 2006, p 33-58.

[11] Moze, Interview with David Best, (Black Rock City 2012)

[12] Moze, A Sacred Place amidst the Dust http://blog.burningman.org/2012/09/building-brc/a-sacred-place-amidst-the-dust/ 2012

[13] Basura Sagrada: The 2008 Burning Man Temple, http://playajoy.org/?p=108 (2008)

[14] Temple of Transition – The tallest temporary wooden structure in the world. http://www.greendiary.com/temple-transition-tallest-temporary-wooden-structure-world.html (2011)

[15] Moze, Interview with Jessica Hobbs, 2012

[16] Basura Sagrada, http://current.com/shows/max-and-jason-still-up/89322038_basura-sagrada.htm (Current TV 2007)

[17] About the Temple Guardians, http://templeguardians.org/about-the-temples/

[18] Moze, Interview with David Best, (Black Rock City 2012)

[19] Moze,Interview with Jack Haye (2012)

[20] The Last Temple, Interview with David Best http://current.com/groups/art-and-style/87265491_the-last-temple.htm (Current TV 2007)

[21] Op. cit. Moze, A Sacred Place amidst the Dust

[22] Sarah M. Pike, Burning Down the Temple: Religion and Irony in Black Rock City(rd Magazine) http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/culture/5082/burning_down_the_temple%3A_religion_and_irony_in_black_rock_city/ (2011)

[23] Basura Sagrada, http://current.com/shows/max-and-jason-still-up/89322038_basura-sagrada.htm (Current TV 2007)


If you are interested in learning more about how you can build the Temple in Black Rock City, visit BRC Temple Grants.

 

Leave No Trace for Artists

The LNT GRID

  1. After checking in at the ARTery, you’ll be escorted to the site of your art project. The center of your project location is marked with a CD and a plastic marker (“floofy”).
  2. Additionally, the floofy marks the center of your Leave No Trace (LNT) Grid, which delineates the boundaries of your LNT focus. You and your crew are responsible to line-sweep the LNT Grid in its entirety before you leave. For most projects (unless otherwise stated) you are responsible for a 50’ area outside of your project footprint.
  3. Your LNT Grid will encompass the ENTIRE area that you and your crew and project occupy such as: art, staging areas, wood shop, metal shop, trash, recycling, burn barrels, etc.

MOOP Public Enemy Number 1: WOOD CHIPS!

Also known as splinters, bark, sawdust, and wood debris.
This is the biggest and fastest growing MOOP problem on the Black Rock Desert.

To prevent wood chips from getting to the playa in the first place, do as much pre-cutting off-playa as possible. If you must cut wood on-playa, do it in an enclosed area such as a shade structure with walls, and lay down a carpet which you can then roll up and carefully transport off-playa with the wood chips secured inside. Where possible, choose plywood over particle board when building your projects, as particle board cracks and splinters more easily.

Line Sweep Tips:

  1. Think of the grid in terms of the Red, Yellow, Green just like the MOOP Map.
  2. Think of your first pass as more of an assessment pass. If an area seems RED and becomes too overwhelming, mark the area and focus on it on your second pass. Try to keep the Line Sweep moving until you’ve assessed the entire grid. Do a second and third pass of your grid until it’s Green.
  3. Your LNT Grid will be designed optimally for 30 people standing 6 feet apart but can be done with fewer people. The more people you have, the more territory will be covered and therefore go faster. The most important thing is to not be further away than 6 feet apart from each other. 6 feet apart is the optimum number.
  4. Orange traffic cones placed at the edges of your LNT Grid work best at defining a visual boundary for your line-sweep team.

Orange traffic cones also work well to visually define a Red Area AKA “Hotspot” to come back to focus on.

Please read more about Clean-up Tools to make Leaving No Trace even easier.

Eyes on Art Program

The Eyes on Art (EoA) team surveys art installations across the open playa and identifies potential safety issues  with art projects, unlit construction sites and exposed rebar. Eyes on Art maintains a real-time, radio-dispatched response team that spends each night of the event until 4AM checking different areas and installations for problems.

Mission Statement

As a safety team within the Art Department, EoA’s mission is to patrol the playa starting build week and throughout the event looking for dark, dangerous, damanged and/or unregistered art.

We focus our efforts on educating and reinforcing the guidelines for creating art on playa. We strive to keep art and the people experiencing the art safe, in particular, sharing best practices for lighting your art installation safely.

With a wide-ranging of skills and resources our team aims to serve Black Rock City as a whole. Eyes on Art works to make the playa safe at all hours. Through education and accountability we work with artists to create and maintain safe art installations on-playa.

EoA coordinates its work with many of Black Rock City’s departments including (but not limited to) the ARTery (Art Support Services (ASS), Fire Art Safety Team(FAST)), Black Rock Rangers, Department of Public Works (DPW), and Heavy Equipment and Transport (HEaT).

Lighting Your Art Installation

One of the important design steps in bringing art to the playa is deciding how to light your art – both for safety and to make your art look awesome. 

The goal is to make your art visible at night. The playa can be a very dark environment. Your build site and art need to be lit *every single night* from when you arrive on playa until you depart, to prevent injury to participants or damage to your art from accidental vehicle/bike/pedestrian collisions.

During construction, your project and perimeter – including any rebar or guy wires – must be illuminated at night. Build sites need to be neatly organized (piles of lumber, stuff not scattered around) and all things need to be well-lit for safety.

Lighting on playa requires daily maintenance, from the day you start building, to ensure that your lights stay lit. This can be undertaken during your daily MOOP sweep.

Although our Eyes on Art (EoA) team is there to support you and other artists by patrolling the playa nightly during build week and the event, looking for dark, dangerous, or damaged art, PLEASE REMEMBER:

  • It is YOUR responsibility to light your art. 
  • If your art is insufficiently lit, EoA will put out perimeter lights or cones (if available) to protect oncoming vehicles from colliding with your art.These lights and cones should be returned to the ARTery in the morning.
  • Your Art Support Services squad will connect with your team to ensure that you correct your lighting problems before the next nightfall.

General Guidelines for Safety Lighting Plan

  • Design it in. Consider lighting in your art design, not as an afterthought.
  • Use the 20-second rule. People should be able to see your art 20 seconds before they arrive at it. Since art cars travel at 5 mph this means they should be able to see your art from (minimum) 150 feet away.
  • 360 degree lighting is important for safety. As most lighting is directional, ensure no dark spots in your lighting design by putting up spot-lighting or adding perimeter lighting.
  • Light your rebar. This structural part of your project is often overlooked and is one of the biggest causes of injury on the playa — be sure to mark it and light it up!
  • Light your perimeter. Mark your boundaries to keep art cars at a safe distance from your artwork. Perimeter lighting is best when off the ground, so it does not get buried beneath a layer of dust.
  • Enhance your lighting system. Mirrors, reflectors, and other shiny surfaces can reflect your deliberate lighting as well as headlights from oncoming vehicles. Sound objects like wind chimes can also assist in protecting your art from oncoming vehicles both at night and during daytime playa whiteouts.

Unacceptable Forms of Light

There are many forms of light for you to choose from. Please DON’T use:

  • Chemical lights (“glow sticks”): they don’t last an entire night and are bad for the environment.
  • Fuel lanterns (tiki torches, etc): no unattended flames are allowed on the playa.

Acceptable Forms of Light

  • Electroluminescence
    • Highly portable, flexible, and customizable, electroluminescent (EL) panels and/or wire
    • Available in neon/fluorescent colors, different shapes and diameters
    • Can be powered with simple or sophisticated lighting controllers
  • Incandescent lighting
    • Highly accessible
    • Available in standardized packages
    • Generates light omni-directionally
    • Consumes a lot more power, produces more heat, and is far more fragile than their updated counterparts
  • LEDs
    • Highly efficient, effective alternative to conventional lighting.
    • Compact
    • Available in an array of colors
    • Easy to power and control
  • Perform well in extreme environments
  • Neon
    • Highly efficient
    • Consumes little power in operation
    • Can last for years if utilized properly
    • Since made of glass, consider placing it out of reach to guard against breakage.
  • Rope lights
    • Available as incandescent bulbs or LEDs
    • Inexpensive solution
    • Can make a great demarcation, point of reference, and/or general area light
  • Small blinking (bicycle) lights
    • Easy to procure
    • Bright enough to warn on-comers of potential hazards
    • Do not cast much light on the surroundings
    • Should be used as warning lights only
  • Solar lights (garden lights, etc.)
    • For ground-mounted solar lights, consider lifting them up and off the ground in an attempt to keep dust from accumulating on the integrated solar panel and/or LED light, which can greatly impair their functionality.
    • Can be used for perimeter marking or accents, but not very bright and should not be considered the main source of lighting.
    • If not staked down properly, can be blown away or get stolen.
    • For larger solar light installations that require solar panels, see “Power” section below
  • Lasers
    • Do not consider using lasers unless you understand the regulations surrounding them.

Power for Your Lights

To the extent possible, please help us reduce the carbon footprint of BRC by considering sustainable sources to power your artwork, such as solar or wind. To learn how to use solar to power your art, check out this Solar 101 course on Hive

(You can learn more about Burning Man Project’s community-wide effort to prioritize sustainability and lessen our environmental impact in our 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap.)

No matter the source of power you’re using, it needs to be checked daily prior to sundown to ensure your art will be lit throughout the night. Take this time to also do a MOOP sweep! If you are having lighting issues your team can’t fix, make sure you get to the ARTery before 6pm closing time.

  • Solar
    • Before acquiring components (solar panels, charge controller, battery, inverter, wiring, connectors), take the time to properly design your system for whatever you may be powering
    • Always build margin into solar systems, be sure to account for no/low solar days, plan for worst-case scenarios and bring along additional components to perform onsite repairs
    • Solar systems require daily maintenance to remove dust and check connections
  • Small Batteries
    • Require daily swap-out
  • Car Batteries
    • Should be stored in a cool, dry place
    • Should be secured to ensure they don’t wander off
  • Generator
    • Needs to be secured within a generator box (see the “Generators” section of this Handbook for details)
    • Fuel needs to be arranged with Art Support Services

Re-using Your Lighting

Post-event, your lighting system can be used for future years if it is in good condition. If you are going to re-use your lighting system for another year, think about ways to improve it.

If you don’t plan to reuse it, consider donating your unneeded lighting objects to avoid having them end up in a landfill. You can check with Eyes on Art at the ARTery to see if they are accepting donations of small solar lamps, bicycle lights, blinkies and other small lighting accessories.

Guidelines and Registration

All Participants are Welcome to Create Art at Burning Man!

Burning Man’s Art Installation Registration Questionnaire opens on March 17, 2021 and will be available online via Burner Profiles. The questionnaire closes on June 2, 2021 at 12 noon Pacific Time. After this date there is a late registration form, or you can do a walk-in registration for your project at the ARTery on playa. You MUST fill out the art installation questionnaire if you would like to bring an art installation for placement on the open playa. Please read through the following guidelines before registering your project.

This questionnaire is only for registering physical art installations to be placed on the open playa, and not mutant vehicles, performances, art for the Center Camp Café, or art inside your camp (which doesn’t need to be registered).


(Click to Enlarge)

ART INSTALLATION GUIDELINES

Responsibility

Whether you create a theme-related artwork or a vision you’ve had in your head for some time, anyone making a commitment to creating art at Burning Man must take responsibility for all aspects of that creation. From filling out the art installation registration form, to participating in a dialogue with us, arriving on the playa, protecting your art, and being accountable for cleanup – every aspect of creating art must be taken seriously.

  • Artwork must be sufficiently secured against high winds and intense weather conditions that often arise on the playa. If there are guy wires that are necessary to the construction they must be flagged. Please read about securing structures.
  • Artwork must be sufficiently illuminated at night, including rebar, guy wires and any other part of the installation that somebody could crash into. This includes lighting your build materials before you finish creating your art installation. Note that it’s a darn good idea to use something that cannot be stolen or removed. Read more on lighting your art.
  • To prevent irreparable environmental damage, no holes larger than three feet by one foot in either direction may be dug in the playa surface. If you do need to dig a hole up to this size, you will need to keep the playa in a container so you can pack it back into the hole when dismantling your installation. If you need help securing your structure, please contact the ARTery and we can help you with alternative solutions.
  • Camping is not allowed at any art installation on the open playa.
  • Prefabricated structures such as domes or tents are not placed as art on the open playa. The open playa is for hand-built and personally-designed artwork rather than prefabricated structures. Any art installations comprised of domes or prefabricated structures will not be placed.
  • Live plants are not allowed at Burning Man. Please ensure your installation does not include live plants, or any potentially MOOPy plant matter.

Communication

After you fill out the art installation questionnaire, someone from our Art Team will review your proposed project and contact you with any questions. Participating in a dialogue with you about your artwork will enable us to help make your Burning Man experience the best it can be.

Challenge

Creating art on the playa of Black Rock City is like no canvas or gallery that you may have ever experienced before. The challenges are many. You must consider the extreme physical conditions of the desert, the logistics of transporting building materials and equipment to this remote desert site, and the difficulty of maintaining tools and equipment in a place that has no service grid or ready market of resources.

You must also consider the inherently chaotic nature of Black Rock City itself. All of these challenges are aspects of the medium in which you are working, so plan carefully and be patient. Your creation may not happen in precisely the way you envision it, and that’s okay. The struggle to adapt and to survive is an essential part of this experience and can lead to unexpected discoveries, both about your art as well as yourself.

Interactivity

We challenge you to create something that will inspire, engage, question, puzzle, amuse, seduce and otherwise influence the citizens of Black Rock City. Interactive art is our particular obsession. Interactive work convenes society around itself. It generates roles. It provokes actions. It transforms participants into active contributors to a creative process.

Sound

Large scale sound art is confined to the 10:00 and 2:00 edges of our city. Art installations on the open playa may contain ambient sound elements that are integral to the installation, but we do not allow DJs, sound systems, DJ booths, or any kind of amplified dance music in the art area. Why not? Electronic music permeates our city, and the open playa is one place that is free of it. Some installations require a quiet area, and amplified music makes that impossible. With the nature of the open desert, sound carries far and wide very easily. If you are creating an art installation that contains amplified music, it must be located on or in front of the 10:00 or 2:00 edge of our city, and must adhere to our sound policy.

Cleanup Accountability – To Burn or Not To Burn

You arrive on a clean blank canvas – the playa. And that is the way you will leave it. Everything you bring to live, create and burn MUST BE REMOVED. Nothing, absolutely nothing, may be left at your art site or camp when you leave. Cleaning up and Leaving No Trace are paramount. As citizens of Black Rock City we are held to a high standard.

Read more about Leave No Trace for Artists and Clean-up Tools

IMPORTANT: There are special requirements if your artwork incorporates FIRE in any of the following ways:

  • Open Fire: flames created by candles, torches, fire barrels, wood fires, and/or artwork that will itself be engulfed in flame or otherwise burned
  • Flame Effects: flames that are automated, switched, pressurized or have any action other than simply being lit on fire. This includes projects that use propane or liquid fuels.
  • Pyrotechnic Display: explosives, fireworks or projectiles
  • Hazardous Materials Storage: Storage of hazardous or combustible materials, including kerosene, white gas, propane, gasoline, pyrotechnics, etc.

If your artwork incorporates fire in any of those ways, it is mandatory that you read and follow the fire safety guidelines that we have developed. You will also be required to fill out the Fire Safety section of the Art Installation Questionnaire and include your Burn Scar Prevention plan. To be prepared for these questions, please read the following and gather the information you need before you start the questionnaire:

Here’s who to email if you have any questions:

And Finally …

Once you’ve gathered the information you need to describe your artwork, your lighting, your Leave No Trace plan, and fire safety plan if your artwork incorporates Open Fire, Flame Effects, Pyrotechnics or the storage of hazardous or combustible materials, click below to get started. Note that the Art Installation Questionnaire is available from late February to late May.

Art Installation Questionnaire

Sound Systems

Sound Policy

The playa is a natural amplifier and it doesn’t take much to produce a large amount of sound. Bass travels multi-directionally and cannot be effectively contained with any structures. This gives “sound” as an art form an unfair advantage over other art forms. Burning Man is dedicated to radical self-expression, but it is also dedicated to creating community. This means we all must find a way to get along with our neighbors. Our past history has led us to this point where we MUST give guidelines on amplification and limit space for this sort of art.

The following four rules make up our basic sound policy:

  1. Neighbors should talk to one another when sound becomes problem and try to resolve the issue through direct communication.
  2. Large-scale sound installations MUST be located along the ends of our city. They may express themselves unless community complaints persist.
  3. Within the city, a maximum power amplification of 300 watts is permitted, producing sound amplification not to exceed 90 decibels, when measured at 20 feet from the source.
  4. Any complaints about excessive sound will become the concern of the Black Rock Rangers. Concerns about excessive sound can result in:
    a) volume check and mediation between camps,
    b) volume check and a final warning on complaints,
    c) the disabling of equipment.

Loud vs. Quiet

Again this year we will have no “loud” and “quiet” sides of the city. These are relative terms, and they set up expectations that may be impossible to meet. These terms create infinite gray areas regarding what is perceived to be “loud” or “quiet,” and this results in difficult negotiations between neighbors.

Large Scale Sound Art

All large-scale sound systems will be located in the Large-Scale Sound Art Zone. Like all theme camps, these camps will be encouraged to be as creative and interactive as possible. The primary rule is that all speakers MUST be turned away from greater Black Rock City toward the open playa at all times. The deadline for large-sound art installations is first-come, first-served, so when these spots are filled, no more sound systems will be permitted within Black Rock City.

Sound Complaints

If you believe your neighbor’s sound is too loud and you are not able to effectively negotiate a solution, you may report this to a Black Rock Ranger station or directly to a Black Rock Ranger. (Please do not mistake a BLM Ranger for our own). Black Rock Ranger Stations are located at both Outposts and in Center Camp. A complaint should contain:

  • The exact SOURCE of the sound. (Vague reports will result in no action or ineffective action.)
  • The exact TIME of the disturbance. (Vague reports will result in no action or ineffective action). Please report problems when they happen, although reports filed the next day can be useful with persistent problem camps. We will not take action on issues of taste.

As a community, we need to work together to keep sound at desirable levels. This means that everyone involved is personally responsible for how they affect everyone else’s experience. If your neighbor believes your sound is too loud, you must work with them to find an acceptable volume. You will need to check in with those that you are camped near to find out what other events are planned and work with them to create a schedule. With these actions you should be able to handle all of your own sound issues. If everyone works together there will be no need for Black Rock Rangers to monitor sound. Please pass this information around to other participants in your theme camp or village and to those that are not planning on being listed on the map. A community effort is need to pull this off.

Law Enforcement

Black Rock City and the roads leading to and from the event are patrolled by the following agencies:

  • Pershing County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO)
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
  • Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO)
  • Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP)
  • Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Police Department (PLPT)
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

It is not the stated mission of these agencies to police your lifestyle or inhibit self-expression. They serve the same functions as the police in any city – to protect public safety and respond to any violation of the law that is brought to their attention or is in plain view.

We Want Your Feedback About Law Enforcement

Did you have any interaction with law enforcement at Burning Man? Was it a positive experience? Was it a negative experience? Do you feel that you were harassed or illegally searched? Whether you were cited or not, we want your feedback so that we can further improve relations between law enforcement and our participants.

Please fill out our online Law Enforcement Feedback form as soon as possible after your interaction, so you can record all the details while they’re still fresh in your mind. You may also download a PDF of the form and return it to us. Thank you for your help!

Please note: Burning Man’s Black Rock Rangers are participants serving as non-confrontational community mediators. They are not law enforcement officers.

New for 2019

As volunteers, Black Rock Rangers do not typically engage physically with participants. Instead, Rangers rely on tools like education, negotiation, and an appeal to the 10 Principles to resolve conflict. Each year, there are a few situations involving participants behaving aggressively that are beyond the scope of Ranger responsibilities but don’t rise to the level of requiring law enforcement intervention, or might benefit from proactively deploying a team than can act in the event that a situation escalates.

For the 2019 event, Burning Man Project has contracted with High Rock Security to provide a very small team (no more than four people at a time) in Black Rock City that will provide support and assistance to Black Rock Rangers. We believe that having this third option for a small number of unique cases will benefit Rangers, participants, and law enforcement.

The High Rock team will not be proactively patrolling the city, and will only engage when dispatched by Ranger leadership. They will not be armed and will escalate any serious issues immediately to law enforcement as needed. They will be wearing black “High Rock Security” shirts, clearly distinguishable from Rangers and law enforcement.

You may know High Rock Security from their work at a number of official Burning Man Project events (like San Francisco Decompression and the Artumnal Gathering) and events adjacent to Burning Man (e.g., Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis). They work alongside Rangers at some of these gatherings and approach security in a manner inspired by Black Rock Rangers, preferring de-escalation techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is this the “private security” that BLM discusses as a potential mitigation in the Environmental Impact Statement?

No. This is completely unrelated to BLM’s Environmental Impact Study or to any requirements from BLM. Our collaboration with High Rock Security is not the security force proposed by BLM to search for contraband at the Gate. High Rock will not be searching vehicles at the Gate.

Why is this happening?

Black Rock City staff have dealt with a small number of issues over the years where individuals displayed physically aggressive behavior, demonstrated the potential to harm themselves or others, or otherwise continued to behave badly when asked by Rangers or other Burning Man staff to stop. While we rely on law enforcement for support when things get out of hand, there are cases where it would be helpful to have a team under our management that can monitor a situation before it rises to law enforcement action, so as to ensure safety if things escalate until law enforcement arrives.

What is private security’s intended role at the event?

To assist our Black Rock Rangers and Black Rock City staff in situations that might need a higher level of de-escalation or intervention that volunteer Rangers are not prepared to provide, but don’t rise to the level of requiring law enforcement involvement.

Does this mean more or less law enforcement at the event?

Neither. High Rock Security is not tasked with enforcing the law and therefore does not remove the need for law enforcement in BRC. They are here to serve Black Rock City needs and to support our volunteer Black Rock Rangers.

Will High Rock staff be armed? Will they carry guns? Tasers? Batons? Pepper spray?

No. High Rock staff will not be armed with any weapons.

What will they be wearing? How will we know who they are?

They will be wearing black “High Rock Security” shirts, clearly distinguishable from Rangers and law enforcement. Due to the very small size of the team and the specific nature of their work, the vast majority of participants will not interact with, or even notice, the High Rock team in Black Rock City.

What is High Rock Security’s history?

High Rock Security was founded in 2002 by members of Burning Man’s Black Rock Rangers and Gate teams to provide a non-aggressive style of security to events. Their clients include San Francisco Decompression, Burning Man regional events, Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis, and Joshua Tree Music Festival. Much of High Rock Security’s staff consists of people who have been Burning Man Project staff and volunteers, previously involved with Black Rock Rangers, Gate, DPW, Cafe, and other departments.

How will High Rock Security interact with Black Rock Rangers?

High Rock staff will work alongside Rangers and under the direction of Ranger management. High Rock staff will be dispatched by the Black Rock Rangers as an additional resource when appropriate.

Will High Rock Security patrol BRC?

The plan is for High Rock to respond as needed when called upon by Black Rock Rangers to assist.  They will typically be accompanied by Rangers.

How many of them will there be?

There will be between two and four agents on duty at a time.

If you can use private security, why have BLM or Pershing County law enforcement patrolling the event? Why not do what EDC, Coachella and Bonnaroo do—use private security and call in law enforcement only when needed?

Black Rock City takes place on public land and has more than 70,000 participants, so law enforcement isn’t optional. Additionally, we’re talking about a very small private security force that wouldn’t be able to take on all of the functions of law enforcement in BRC.

How was High Rock Security selected as the security vendor for BRC?

The selection process took about four years and was managed by Burning Man’s Law Enforcement Advisor, the Ranger Department Manager, and the Ranger Deputy Department Manager.  Several companies submitted proposals, and High Rock wasn’t a contender until they got a license in Nevada in 2018. They were selected based on a number of factors, including flexibility in working with us on a very small scale, and a unique cultural fit for Black Rock City.