Fire Art Guidelines

Fire Balls (Photo by C. J. Evans)

Fire art is part of the essential fabric of Black Rock City, and to keep creating fire art, we need to do so safely. Whether you’re incorporating fire into your art installation, theme camp, Mutant Vehicle or performance, it’s essential that you don’t harm others or the playa. This section contains important information about creating fire art safely and exhibiting it on-playa.

Thank you for taking the time to read this information thoroughly, and for wanting to create fire art for Burning Man. Now… let’s burn some stuff!

Mutant Vehicles

What is a Mutant Vehicle?

Slow down, hotshot. All Mutant Vehicles must be licensed to drive on playa. Learn more.

A Mutant Vehicle is a unique, motorized creation that either shows little or no resemblance to their original form, or to any standard street vehicle, or is out of context from it’s normal setting (a pirate ship or space ship on the desert, for example). Mutant Vehicles can be built from scratch or are radically, stunningly,and safely modified from their base vehicle.

The Clock Ship Tere by Andy Tibbetts (photo by Patrice Mackey aka Chef Juke)

 

Mutant Vehicles may include such non-standard motorized forms such as furniture, other non-street vehicles such as a boat or train, animals, or just about anything imaginable. For safety reasons, they must not mimic any type of emergency service or law enforcement vehicle.

Vehicles merely stripped to the frame and engine, and vehicles with minimal changes or temporary decorations are not considered Mutant Vehicles.

How are Mutant Vehicles different from any art car?

The Mutant Vehicle classification was specifically created by the DMV for use in Black Rock City. The classification was created because the term “art car” can have a broad definition, and, because of the limit on the number of vehicles the DMV can license, the DMV needed a classification that better described the level of ‘mutation’ that was required for a license.

A Mutant Vehicle is, in essence, a specific variety of art car that is either built from scratch, or is more modified, customized or changed (i.e. ‘mutated”) from its original form, if any,  than most art cars. 

What is NOT Considered a Mutant Vehicle?

  • The following are not considered Mutant Vehicles:
  • Unmutated vehicles.
  • Vehicles only stripped to the frame and engine.
  • Street/stock vehicles with minimal changes or temporary decorations.
  • Vehicles which too strongly resemble the original form or where too much of the base vehicle is unmutated and still visible.
  • Low riders, classic cars, monster trucks, dune buggies, rat rods and hot rods (there are other venues for these vehicles to be appreciated)

Mutant Vehicles are integral to the culture and community at Burning Man. They contribute to the surreal, visual quality that binds Black Rock City together.

If you are interested in bringing a Mutant Vehicle to Black Rock City, see the Mutant Vehicle Licensing and Criteria.

Ambient Drummers

The Ambient Drummers are a collection of unaffiliated drummers that help create atmosphere at the foot of the Man on the night of the Burn. Each drummer comes with a drum and a desire to create music. We collect drummers into groups, give them a chance to practice with each other and then spread them around the Great Circle with the Fire Conclave on the night of the Burn to fill the air with music. Here are the basics:

  • All drummers who wish to participate must attend one rehearsal/meeting during the week of the event.
  • All drummers must sign in at Fire Conclave Convergence in Center Camp before the meeting.
  • We do not supply drums; you must bring your own drum, shaker, or instrument.
Photo by Kevin LeVezu

 

What we need from you:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Location in the world (City, State, Country)
  • A brief introduction
  • Affiliation with any musical group or fire group (optional)

Send the above information to drummers@burningman.org.

 

 

Once we have this info we will add you to the drummers announce email list. This list is where we will send you info that you need in order to participate.

Photo by Kyer Wiltshire

 

 

Fire Conclave

Fire is the very heart and essence of life. For it is phenomena rather than substance, that is revealed, seen and touched in ways of risk and ritual.

Fire Conclave performs at the Man burn, 2013 (Photo by Ales aka Dust To Ashes)

Fire Conclave performs at the Man burn, 2013 (Photo by Ales aka Dust To Ashes)

What is the Fire Conclave?

The Fire Conclave is a composition of select fire performance groups from around the world who create choreography dedicated to honoring the Man. Their performances forge a temporary community, as they offer fire art as a gift in service to the Man. Under the night sky, before the release of the Man in pyrotechnic delight, the largest convergence of fire performers and support staff gather at one time where, more fire energy is expressed and let loose than anywhere else in the world. Along with the Fire Conclave there are also the Processional Consortium and Ambient Drummers. Learn about how to join the Fire Conclave and the Fire Conclave history.

The Processional

The Processional is made up of of Luminists, torchbearers who create a path for the Luminferrous to pass; Lamplighters who convey the Luminferrous to the Man; and a processional band who generates energy for the procession. The Processional Consortium transfers the flame from the Cauldron to each fire group in the Fire Conclave, who stand ready to receive the flame.

Ambient Drummers

The Ambient Drummers are a collection of musicians, not affiliated with fire performance groups, that help create atmosphere at the foot of the Man on the night of the Burn. Drummers are organized into groups who rehearse together before joining the Fire Conclave groups around the Great Circle on to fill the air with music.

Fire Conclave Ceremonies

Burning Man’s ceremonial fire activity encompasses the spirit as well as the body and mind. The gathering of people dancing and drumming around a fire goes back to the beginning of Burning Man and beyond — it is the original, essential form of dance that crystallizes community. By summoning the power of the flame to flow through us, it strengthens and transforms our spirit.

Opening Fire Ceremony & The One Flame

Opening Ceremony – Photo by Grant Palmer

On the first Monday of the event, Crimson Rose extracts a flame from the sun to light  a fire in El Diabla, a special cauldron located in Center Camp. For the flame to continue burning it must be stoked, disturbed and kept alive throughout the entire week. We encourage all those that encounter El Diabla to help keep this flame alive.

 

Procession Of The Ceremonial Flame

Crimson Rose lighting Luminferrous – Photo by Espressobuzz

On Saturday night the fire that has been extracted from the sun, drummed and danced around, and has been burning all week long will be transferred to a special lantern, the Luminferrous. The Procession of the Ceremonial Flame will proceed to the Great Circle where the Sentinels will receive the fire and share it with the largest convergence of fire performers, the Fire Conclave, who will utilize that same fire to start their dances dedicated to the Man before it is released in pyrotechnic delight.

 

Fire Performance

What was once a specialty dance created by a few has spread like wildfire. Fire Dancing has grown and matured into a full-blown performance art form, where the art is as varied as the imagination of those who dance with the flame. Fire Dance has its roots in many cultures and is embraced at Burning Man on a scale that is unmatched anywhere.

Fire Conclave

The Fire Conclave is a composition of select fire groups from around the world who create choreographed fire dances to honor the Man before it burns on Saturday night, creating the largest gathering of fire performance in the world.

For general information on fire performance on the playa, visit Fire Conclave Convergence in Center Camp. Fire Conclave Convergence is staffed Monday through Friday, 10am-6pm. There you will find lingering fire dancers, and a large dry erase board with notices of happenings, where participants can share information about performances and spin jams on playa.

Before heading to the playa you may want to join the Fire Conclave Announce email list.

Basic Fuel Storage Information & Fire Performance

  • Fire Performers at Burning Man must always follow basic safety practices when dealing with fuel. For information on the safe use of specific fuels you should first read the recommendations printed on the original fuel container.
  • Fuel should be kept in the original container or other containers clearly marked as containing fuel. Water bottles or other containers that might lead to the accidental ingestion of fuels should not be used.
  • Keep your fuel out of direct sunlight and away from any open flames, burn barrels and other sources of ignition.
  • When transferring fuel use a secondary containment such as a 5-gallon bucket or other larger container to prevent spills. Do not dump excess or unused fuel on the playa.
  • More information about the storage of fuels at Burning Man can be found here.

Basic Guidelines for Fire Performance

  • Please be aware of your environment and surroundings anytime you are performing with fire.
  • Respect boundaries set by camps and campers.
  • Fire can cause serious injury, disfigurement and property damage. All fire performers must perform sober and act responsibly.
  • Before beginning any fire performance check your equipment for any damage or issues that might cause the device to come apart and potentially cause a flaming element to be thrown into camping areas or at those gathered to watch.
  • Always have proper fire suppression equipment at hand. Fire suppression equipment should include clean wet towels or duvetyn for extinguishing performers and a separate one for extinguishing tools and props.
  • At least one BC rated extinguisher should be on hand for extinguishing fuel fires. Note: do not use dry chemical fire extinguishers on performers as the chemical material will need to be removed from burns and that will hurt!
  • Do not leave flames burning on the playa surface (you may be ticketed by BLM).
  • Do not spin or shake off excess fuel on the playa; use a spin off bucket or zip-lock baggies to catch your excess fuel. That means burning off those fuel trails on the playa surface is a no-no.

Fire Safety

  • There are no formal Fire Conclave Safety Trainings, however you may always stop by Fire Conclave Convergence or check the What, Where, When for information about trainings that may be presented by theme camps or individual fire troupes.
  • All fire performers must have a second person on hand acting as a safety. This person should be able to extinguish tools using a flame retardant material (such as duvetyn) and a second piece of wet clean natural fiber (such as a cotton towel) should your costuming be ignited.
  • The safety person should also be able to deal with any situations you may not be aware of as you perform. You never know when something may go wrong so be sure to always have a sober fire safety. Just because you have your act together doesn’t mean the people around you do.

Nevada State Fire Performance Permitting and Laws

  • Nevada state law does not regulate fire performances at Burning Man. Which means there is no special permitting required, though unsafe behavior will not be allowed at any time. Black Rock Rangers or Emergency Service members may ask those found to be performing in an unsafe manner to stop and correct safety issues.

Center Camp Café Performance

Singer/Songwriters, jugglers, stilt-walkers, marching bands, film-makers, and magicians are just some the participants of Black Rock City who fill the Café with their pulsing, raucous energies. In addition to the free-form entertainment that abounds, the Café hosts special events, and has a stage for scheduled community performances.

about this photo

The Performance Stage is a fun and high profile way for participants to share their talents at Burning Man. During the day, an eclectic mix of Café-style musical offerings such as instrumental, jazz, and world performances encourage community gathering, relaxation, and social interaction. We also host spoken-word, comedy and small-scale theatrical productions. In fact, the entire Café is a majestic space host to performances as unique as their surroundings; not all performances happen on the stage. We can also host large participatory and performance groups, dancers, orchestras, and jugglers in what we call “the Center of the Center”: the occulus of the Center Camp Café.

Are you one of those black-clad gaffer’s-tape-and-flashlight types? Volunteer as a tech on the Café Sound and Performance Team!

The Café is seeking acts that can contribute to the Café ambiance with performances from opening Monday and throughout the event until Sunday just before Temple Burn. Yes, that’s right, we are open 24/7 for Event Week. Performers interested in performing in the Café should arrange for a pre-scheduled performance time during the event. You can get started by emailing some basic information to our Café Performance booking volunteers:

  • Your name
  • The name of your Act
  • Featured instruments and musical style
  • Brief sound requirements
  • Links to any online samples or information, excerpt from one of your poems, sketches, or plays, or a description of the type of performance you’re planning.
  • ****Note to Booking Agents – All artists are required to be radically self reliant, which means purchasing their own ticket to the event as well as providing all necessaries to survive the Black Rock City. We do not work with Booking Agents, have your clients contact us directly.

We have three wonderful volunteers to help get your performance booked. Email them to:

  1. For your spoken word/comedy stylings:
    cafe-spoken@burningman.org
  2. For musical performances:
    cafe-music@burningman.org
  3. For other all other types of performances:
    cafe-performers@burningman.org

If you have an event that may contribute to the overall Café community experience and require any additional assistance or if you have general questions about performing in, on, or around the Café, contact cafe-performance@burningman.org.

 

Share your expertise, research, analysis, and experiences with your fellow playa citizens and be a part of the Center Camp Cafe Speaker Series!

Every year the Speaker Series has a sub-theme that we ask you consider how your talk might fit into. Our sub-theme for 2018 is:

**Em(Body)ment- The foundation from which we perceive and act**

We want to ask you to explore a way in which you enter the world, specifically through physical embodiment and how that influences the way we perceive ourselves, each other, and interact with the world.

Some things to consider when submitting your topic may include:

— How and what you study

— How and what you prioritize

— The way you speak/the language you use

— The way you interact

Of course, we accept talks that are not specific to our theme, however talks that incorporate this year’s event theme (I, Robot), or Speaker Series sub-theme will be given scheduling priority.

Structure of Our Talks:

  • Talks generally range in length from 10-30 minutes.
  • There is a moderated Q&A that follows every talk ranging in time from 5-25 minutes depending on the submission, the time slot, and the audience engagement level. This is where the moderator and the audience can question and engage with the presenter on their assumptions and thesis.
  • All submissions and topics are welcome, as long as general Burning Man ethos and values are upheld. (i.e. No promotions of products, corporations, political candidates, or rigid partisanship.)
  • We are looking for speakers and talks, not workshops.
  • We are looking for fully structured talks that reveal and explore the nature of the topic submitted. Research, whether academic or experiential, is welcomed and appreciated.
  • We are a family friendly venue until dark, and we have no speaker slots after dark this year, though that doesn’t mean that we will not accept talks on ‘racy’ or more ‘adult’ subjects… it’s just something to consider in the framing of your submission and talk.

For speaker series submissions email:
speakerseries@burningman.org

Next Page: Performance Guidelines

Fuel and Hazmat Storage

Fuel Guidelines

Most fuel spills result from improper storage and transfer of fuel. As citizens of Black Rock City, we must remember our responsibility for Leaving No Trace. Fuel will expand with heat. Never fill your fuel containers past 80%, no matter if you use a five gallon fuel can or a 55 gallon drum.

Fuel must be stored and transported in containers designed and rated for the type of fuel within. These containers must be in good working order and free from defects or leaks. Black Rock City PETROL reserves the right to refuse containers found to be unusable or a hazard.

Protect the playa surface from fuel spills. All containers, regardless of size, must be stored within “secondary containment” basins even during transport. These basins must be capable of holding 110% of the volume of the largest single fuel container stored within it.

Follow the guidelines below when storing containers of fuel.

Large Scale Storage

  • No more than two 55-gallon fuel drums (or no more than a total of 110 gallons of fuel) may be stored in a camp.
  • Do not fill fuel containers more than 80% of capacity to allow for heat expansion; do not fill past the maximum fill line marked on containers.
  • All fuel containers, regardless of size, must be stored within “secondary containment” basins capable of holding 110% of the volume of the largest single fuel container stored within it. For large fuel containers, a secondary containment solution can be as simple as a fuel pallet or a plastic kiddie pool. If a fuel container should fail, a secondary containment basin will catch all the fuel.
  • Fuel and flammables must be stored in approved containers that must remain closed except when filling or dispensing.
  • Fuel containers should be “UL” certified for safety and in good condition.

Small Scale Storage (one to five gallons)

  • All fuel containers, regardless of size, must be stored within “secondary containment” basins. If a fuel container should fail, a secondary containment basin will catch all the fuel. For small fuel containers, a secondary containment solution can be as simple as a cement mixing tub or fuel-resistant tarp with a raised frame placed beneath to create a containment area.
  • Fuel containers (even little ones) should not be filled more than 80% of capacity to allow for heat expansion. Do not fill past the maximum fill line marked on containers.
  • Fuel containers are to remain closed except when filling or dispensing.
  • Fuel containers should be CARB and EPA certified.
  • Never use fuel containers that are degraded by the sun, cracked or damaged.

Fuel Storage Area Safety Guidelines

  • No more than two 55 gallon fuel drums (or no more than a total of 110 gallons of fuel) may be stored in a camp. [MANDATORY]
  • A safety radius of 100 ft. must separate fuel storage areas between neighboring camps. [MANDATORY]
  • For liquid fuel storage a safety radius of at least 20’ must be maintained from any liquefied gas storage area, eg. propane, CNG, any other gas fuel. [MANDATORY]
  • A safety radius of 10 ft. must separate fuel storage areas from any non-fuel item.  This includes bikes, trailers, tents, camp structures and public areas. [MANDATORY]
  • A safety radius of 25 ft. must separate fuel storage from a source of ignition or heat sources such as burn barrels, grills/stoves, running generators, RVs and vehicles, . [MANDATORY]
  • Within 10 ft. of your fuel storage, keep a fire extinguisher easily visible and accessible. [MANDATORY] We recommend a 40-B rating / five pound fire extinguisher.
  • Fuel storage area must be kept away from where it can be struck by vehicles. [MANDATORY] Fuel storage areas must be protected from vehicle collision. Establish a safety perimeter around fuel storage areas using caution tape or equivalent.
  • If your fuel must be in the sun, make sure that it’s only filled to 80% so that when the fuel expands, it does not break your container. [MANDATORY]
  • Fuel should not be stored inside or under a living area. [RECOMMENDED]
  • Storing fuel in the shade is recommended, particularly in a designated fuel storage depot. However, fuel should never be stored in a confined space, under or near a structure or vehicle, or close to sources of ignition. [RECOMMENDED]
  • Fuel storage area must be accessible from a 20’ wide fire lane and access road. [MANDATORY]
  • “NO SMOKING – FLAMMABLE” signage must be visible from all four directions around fuel storage areas. [RECOMMENDED]

Fuel Spills & Playa Protection

  • Bring a shovel and sealable five-gallon bucket for removing fuel spills and contaminated soil from the playa and take it with you post event to dispose of.
  • Fuel spills and contaminated soil that are larger than 5 gallons must be reported to Black Rock Rangers or Emergency Services Department at either Center Camp or the 3 and 9 O’Clock plazas. Any Burning Man staff member can also help you call for the ESD-Hazmat team. Reports should include location and contact person. Possible sources of ignition should be eliminated in the area of a spill. Vapors can travel significant distance away from the spill.

 Fire Hazards

  • Do not fuel generators while they are running.
  • Beware the dangers of static electricity. A spark can ignite gas vapors. Static can be generated anytime fuel is moving from one container to another.

Fuel Delivery & Filling

Purchasing fuel onsite and planning for fuel usage will reduce the amount of fuel you need to transport and store. Transporting and storing the minimum amount of fuel necessary reduces safety risks as each point of transfer is a risk of spill, fire or worse. It is preferable to have generators filled daily by the fuel team rather than storing fuel in your camp and filling equipment yourself.

Fuel deliveries for generators and/or fuel drums can be arranged with the PETROL Department prior to the event. Once these arrangements are made, fuel will be delivered to your camp location. There are no account registrations on-playa. All fuel registrations must take place in the fuel registration window so the department can plan pre-event and allocate resources needed to run effectively.

Mutant Vehicles should pre-register for fueling through the PETROL Department. Approved Mutant Vehicles can then be fueled at the Hell Station at 10:00 & L.

approved_fuel_container

Review the fuel container handout.

Read more about the fuel program and setting up an account here.

For more information email petrol@burningman.org.

Burn Scar Prevention

So you have a beautiful piece of art that you wish to burn at Burning Man. How do you practice Leave No Trace (LNT) and protect the playa from heat damage?

The Problem

Ultra Bad Burn Scar (Photo by Moonfire)

Burning anything directly on the surface of the playa will create Burn Scars, which are patches of discolored, hardened playa sediment, caused by the heat and smoke of carelessly constructed bonfires. They are difficult to clean up and take years to recover.

Burn Scars, like the one to the left, are one of the issues that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) watches closely in their role as stewards of public land. Burning Man’s ability to return to the Black Rock Desert year after year is directly dependent upon our ability to Leave No Trace. It is also your responsibility as a citizen of Black Rock City to Leave No Trace during your time here.

The Challenge

You as the artist have two choices in burning your art:

Move It

This choice is the simplest; you can either dismantle your artwork, or carry it in one piece if you have enough people, and place it in one of the Community Burn Gardens. Burn Gardens are located on the open playa side of the Esplanade at the terminus of the 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 streets.

It is best to dismantle your art and place it in the burn cauldrons. The height of the cauldrons will most likely be over your head and ablaze, so exercise due care when loading your artwork.

Note: Do not add any liquid fuel to the Burn Gardens as they are metal cauldrons standing about five feet tall; the flash-over from adding liquid fuel to an unseen fire down inside the cauldron makes it too dangerous to attempt.

You can also burn your art on the ashes of the Man Saturday night after the Man has fallen, and after the crowd dies down. Please make sure your crew is safe and that the piece is placed completely over the DG so none of your work extends onto the unprotected playa and scorches it. If you decide to burn on the Man’s ashes please be careful; there are many hearty participants who like to sift through the ash and rubble to find melted pieces of the Man’s neon. It’s important to make sure your installation does not pose any additional safety risk to participants.

Burn It In Place

Closer look at inadequate burn platform.

Closer look at inadequate burn platform.

If you wish to burn your art directly on the playa, you need to make sure it is six inches off the ground and you have options available to protect the playa from direct and radiant heat to prevent burn scars. With some clever thinking, preparation and intelligent use of materials, this can be made to fit in with the aesthetics of the installation.

As you plan for the burning of your art on the playa and the prevention of burn scars there are some aspects that must be paid attention to in order to prevent worst case scenarios like the inadequate burn platform to the right.

What kind of damage can flaming art do to the playa?

Plenty. The playa hardens and discolors when exposed to fire. This difference in hardness from the surrounding playa when exposed to weathering creates raised areas, allowing dunes to form. Dunes are a hazard for vehicles and affect the landscape in undesired ways.

  • When designing a simple Burn Shield the following aspects must be taken into consideration: overall weight of the art, whether participants will be walking on the artwork, heavy falling portions of the artwork staying on the Burn Shield and not allowing it to penetrate or damage the platform. Sharp edges and tripping hazards are all factors to consider when choosing materials.
  • Debris must be prevented from falling onto the playa surface such as ashes, wood chips, nails etc. that can and will settle into cracks in the playa surface. These materials can be very difficult to clean; even smoke stains can be challenging to remove and are best dealt with by prevention.
  • The Burn Shield should be designed in such a way as to extend beyond the width of the artwork and catch any flaming debris that may fall, as well as catch the artwork should it fall to one side. Additional Burn Shield materials can be added prior to the burning of your art to accommodate this.
  • One of the key aspects of your Burn Scar Prevention plan should always be cleaning up as quickly as possible after the burn, disposing of all materials and debris from the playa before wind and other weather conditions spread ash and other debris. An aspect of the clean-up that is sometimes missed is clean-up of any MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) left from participants who have come to watch the burning of your piece. A sweep of the area for cigarette butts and other trash is a must post-burn. As an artist burning your installation you will be responsible for an area of approximately 50 feet or more past your perimeter. A member of FAST will work with you to identify your complete area of responsibility.

Burn Shield Design and Decomposed Granite

A Burn Shield is defined as something that separates and insulates the playa from heat and smoke of a burn. The key to Burn Scar Prevention is making sure that your Burn Shield is designed to protect the playa. Over the last few years Burning Man has studied the successes and failures of numerous Burn Shield designs. After much trial and error we have identified some systems that have proven effective in preventing both baking and discoloration of the playa surface. There are two different approaches to this that we have found work best.

The Burn Platform

Burn platform, a closer look

Burn platform, a closer look

Burn Platform Designs, like the example to the left, work best for artworks that are smaller and lighter and will not be supporting the weight of participants climbing or walking. The idea with this design is to create a separation of at least six inches or more from the playa to the bottom of the burn shield, and have it designed to support the weight of the artwork. This type of design is usually constructed of flat or corrugated steel sheeting supported by and securely fastened to either steel legs or cinder blocks. A key factor in a successful design of this type is not to have any wood or other materials below or hanging over the steel sheeting as these will be set ablaze from the radiant heat, defeating the shielding effect of the steel. If the Burn Platform material is flimsy there is the potential of everything collapsing onto the playa, defeating the purpose of Burn Shield.

Decomposed Granite (DG)

Installation materials examined

Installation materials examined

Building a Burn Shield that both protects the playa and supports the weight and movement of participants is a greater challenge. Burning Man has discovered that a layer of Decomposed Granite (DG) placed between the surface of the playa and pre-construction of the artwork, like the example to the right, will provide an insulating layer protecting the playa from heat as well as providing the needed support for larger artwork. Care must be taken not to leave any exposed areas and to protect the DG from being scattered by participants.

No matter what kind of protection you think you will use for burning your artwork, The Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) is here to help discuss your Open Fire Burn Shield Designs. Arrangements for the purchase of Decomposed Granite are made through Burning Man and a deposit will be required pre-event to insure its clean-up and removal. Please contact us at fire-art@burningman.org with any questions.

Notes

  • Corrugated steel needs supports no more than two (2) feet (0.6m) apart to support the weight of walkers or heavy objects.
  • You may not use painted metal. Remove paint from metal before bringing it to the playa.
  • Avoid using aluminum. Even moderately high heat (~1200°F/650°C) will cause aluminum to melt.
  • You can use nails, screws, or other steel fasteners in the construction of your installation. 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.
  • When preparing to burn your piece remember not to use flammable liquids in such a way that they spill off of the platform and onto the playa surface.
  • Avoid incorporating plastics and synthetics into your art installation. Any such items in your installation will need to be removed before it is burned.
  • Clean up as quickly as possible, before participants pile garbage onto your burn.
  • Steel containers (drums, garbage cans, large buckets) are much safer than plastic for removing ashes and debris. Plastic garbage can liners are not recommended.
  • Please remember to check out with the ARTery after you have completed your cleanup so they may note that you have left your spot clean.
IMPORTANT: If your art incorporates any kind of fire, it is mandatory that you have a burn scar protection plan and that you work with FAST to assist you. We are here to help! If you are creating burning art, you will be required to fill out the Fire Safety section of the participation form and include your burn scar protection plan.

To be prepared to fill out the participation forms, please read all the relevant guidelines under our Fire Art Guidelines page.

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

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.