New to the Hobby?

Getting Started the Safe Way

OVERVIEW:

Consumer pyrotechnics are very safe by nature if used correctly.  For the un-informed, reckless or irresponsible, they can cause severe injury or even death.  Each incident involving fireworks unfortunately piques the attention of government agencies like the CPSC, the ATFE, and local authorities, whom are already engaged in a war against our access to Consumer fireworks.  In addition, these reckless acts besmirch the image of Consumer Fireworks.  As a pyro lover, we should all work hard to conduct ourselves responsively with fireworks and to take great concern for safety and local laws.  Conversely, if you are a hobbyist that aspires to build your own fireworks:  FIRST AND FOREMOST OF ALL – DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  Read all available documentation available about safety, dangerous chemicals that are sometimes used in fireworks; their nature and physical manipulation dangers.  You will find a wealth of information on our website from the books and DVDs available from American Fireworks News.  

Once you have gained a firm understanding of the chemistry and science of the contents, finally move to construction techniques; you will benefit much from a patient, tiered approach to hobby pyrotechnics – and you will be a much safer hobbyist.
You will also need to explore the proper government and state (if existing) licensing. 


SAFETY 

Whether or not you are familiar with fireworks it is important that you familiarize yourself with and adopt the safety practices that are outlined by the following National/International organizations.

  • The Fireworks Alliance  A grassroots coalition of hobbyists, professionals, and citizens that seek to preserve and promote the safe and legal use of pyrotechnics in support of fireworks, model rocketry, chemistry, amateur science, and other related disciplines.
  • Pyrotechnics Guild International  Founded in 1969, is an independent worldwide nonprofit organization of amateur and professional fireworks enthusiasts. Its educational and scientific purposes are to:
    1. Promote the safe and responsible display and use of pyrotechnics and fireworks.
    2. Encourage the display of public and private fireworks in conjunction with local and national holidays as well as patriotic and other events.
    3. Promote the production and sale of high quality fireworks.
    4. Channel the creative energies of talented people into the design, production and display of high quality fireworks by example of the membership and through the sharing of knowledge.
  1. The APA is the premier trade association of the fireworks industry and was founded in 1948 with three principle aims "To encourage safety in the design and use of all types of fireworks."
  2.  To provide industry information and support to our members.
  3. To promote responsible regulation of the fireworks industry.

 

ENHANCED SAFETY WITH WIRELESS FIRING

If you have read through some of the guidelines linked above you have probably realized the inherent safety of wireless e-firing.

  1. You may ignite your fireworks from up to 300’ away.
  2. You can eliminate open flames or flares from your shoot site – an obvious benefit.
  3. Eliminate potential proximity injuries due to body parts over mortar tubes

TERMINOLOGY

 Here are some terms that will be useful to you as a hobbyist and as you browse our site.

  1. Visco Fuse This is the fuse that is found on all consumer fireworks.  Sometimes erroneously called “green wick” or simply “wick”, the term “visco” refers to the green lacquer that is used to make fireworks fuse water resistant/water proof. 
  2. 2.     Electric Igniter This term refers to any type of device that is connected between a receiver and a pyrotechnic piece which is used to electrically ignite the fuse.  There are now two types.
    • “Electric Match” or e-match for short.   Originally, all electrical firing was accomplished with an e-match.  An e-match consists of an electrical lead with a head attached that contains pyro material.  When current is passed through the e-match the pyro content burns which in turn ignites the firework.  E-matches require an ATF license to purchase/store.
    • Consumer (Talon) Igniter This unique igniter consists of an electrical lead with a head attached that contains a thin wire bridge.  When current passes through the bridge it heats white-hot and ignites the firework.  Since Talons contain NO pyro material they can be purchased, shipped, and stored with no legal restrictions.
    • Aerial Shell A projectile containing pyrotechnic material which is launched from a mortar tube by means of a small charge of black powder (lift charge) to produce a particular effect in the sky.
    • Mortar Tube  A tube (sometimes called a “mortar” or “gun”) from which aerial fireworks shells are launched.
    • Cue A “cue” represents one channel of a single (or multiple) receiver(s) which is programmed to fire concurrently when a single button of a remote transmitter is depressed.  A set of igniter wire terminals corresponds to each cue.
    • Transmitter A device with multiple buttons or other means of selecting and transmitting a radio signal to a receiver in order to fire a desired cue to fire at a certain time, either manually or automatically.
    • Receiver  A radio device containing one or more cues, and which intercepts or receives the signal from a transmitter to send current through the electrical igniter to light the fuse.
    • Further Information If you are interested in more detailed information about shell styles and  component types, refer to the PGI Convention Competition Rules where you will find a comprehensive guide to both ball and cylinder shells, their components, shell timing, etc. beginning at Section 7, page 19.
    •  http://www.pgi.org/convention/2012/files/2011-Competition-Rule-Book.pdf

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

  1. Authorities Having Jurisdiction Also referred to as AHJ’s, these are the police, sheriff, fire, and other authorities who have the jurisdiction over your area.  These are the persons who will determine the types of permits, insurance, and other variances that you may need to perform your show even if it consists solely of 1.4G or “Class C” Consumer Fireworks.  During certain holidays (such as July 4th) your city or county may issue a permit for an open window of shooting fireworks.  You can inquire at your City Hall as to availability/price/shooting window.
    If you cannot acquire a permit you may have success by going to the AHJ’s with your request.  Chances are you will need insurance or pay to have fire equipment on hand, however this again varies according to your location.
    Only you can determine the level of coordination that you will need with your AHJ’s.  In some States and Counties a simple phone call to the sheriff’s office and fire department will do, especially if you live out of the city limits.  BE SURE to meet and get to know your AHJ’s to the best extent possible.  You will find that your pyro life will be much happier if you do so!
  2. Storage of Fireworks Fireworks have a long shelf as long as they are stored in a dry environment and not allowed huge swings in moisture, i.e. humidity.  NEVER store fireworks in your home.   A storage building is sufficient if the fireworks are wrapped in commercial stretch wrap or in their original cartons which contain tarpaper moisture barrier paper.
  3. FCC Certification and What it Means to You  When shopping for a system you need to keep in mind the environment in which you plan to use it.  FCC Certification for your remote transmitter is absolutely necessary if you plan to use your system for certain club shoots, such as the PGI.  While most of our remotes are FCC Certified, others are in the process.  All of our remotes, whether they have completed certification or not comply to FCC standards in that they will not interfere with any other device nor will they receive interference from any other device.
  4. Our Pyro Community Reputation Do the actions and consequences of our individual pyrotechnic activities reflect upon the entire pyrotechnic community?  The answer is YES.  Whether you are a casual hobbyist or a professional pyrotechnician, your actions are under a constant microscope.  Why?  Because the bureaucratic “powers-that-be” in agencies like the CPSC and DOT, in symphony with our legislative and admistrative body, would like to remove Consumer Fireworks from the market entirely!  That means BAN them from ALL OF US!  Want to get involved?  Join The Fireworks Alliance (TFA) to learn more and to take action of your own! http://www.fireworksalliance.org/index.cgi
  5. Disposal of Live Material Should you need to dispose of “dud” fireworks or other faulty or (heaven forbid) surplus fireworks, soak in water for several hours then bury.  Do not dispose of live material in public waste facilities.  If you need assistance, call your local fire department.