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Practical Guide to Safety
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Wind direction is the overriding factor in deciding how to lay out the show. You must know where the audience is going to stand; the wind direction should always be away from any spectators, never towards them. Any falling debris from rocket casings, paper, delay bungs from roman candles and most importantly composition debris from the coloured stars which fall as dust (smuts), these can irritate eyes and must not be allowed to fall into the audience. The wind direction also affects how the display will be fired. Sparks and flame from other fireworks must not ignite the fireworks behind it, so laying out the firing sequence must be considered. If the site is close to buildings or marquees this could alter the plan, if the site is on more than one level this could also alter the way it’s laid out. If the display site is in a stadium and can only be placed round the edges, the normal way of setting the show cannot be achieved, but will depend on how much ground there is, and where.
A fall-out area may alter the way fireworks are laid out, all displays must have a minimum 50 meters, a 100 meters would be better, (in normal wind conditions), this enables most firework debris such as rocket sticks, delay wads from large roman candles, etc., to fall down harmlessly. Some display sites may have to be altered to achieve this.
There are many factors that decide how a display site plan is made, but safety must come at the top of the list, safety for the general public (audience), any buildings or other private property, and operators. Most of these factors will be planned in on your first site visit making your Risk Assessment, but on the day, conditions may change.
There are various ways that the fireworks can be laid out, but you must also consider how you are going to set the fireworks off. Again Safety must play a major part on how this is done. There are a few self preservation rules that would apply very quickly:
When laying out the fireworks always keep the firing area tidy, not only from debris that's accumulated during day but don't have odd fireworks scattered around and banking on the 'pot luck' theory trying to find them. This is especially true if your area is in long grass, if you don't keep to a system the fireworks will become lost, remember, it was daylight when you positioned them, but when trying to find the individual fireworks in the dark could be another matter if a plan is not employed.
Keep the fireworks in straight lines as much as you can, numbered and kept apart at around 1.5 meters from the next one. In an emergency this will enable you to safely walk between the fireworks if the need arises. It will also help to avoid 'take-overs' where one firework accidentally ignites another one.
How the display site is laid out is one of the most important aspects of a fireworks display. The display will be affected by many things including wind direction, audience position, proximity of private property, car parks etc. and operator safety. There maybe other factors which will determine how you layout the fireworks which will be unique to your site.
Ideally the display should be laid out as shown here, but in many cases the ideal layout plan will vary dramatically according to the site you have chosen. However your site will be laid out, safety is the most important part of any plan.
The front section of the site should be for a Good Night set piece or any company logos, and any Devices that might be on the display.
The middle section should contain small cakes and Roman Candles followed by medium sizes Roman Candles. There may be a static set piece on the display, that goes next.
The rear section (furthest away from the audience) takes large calibre Roman Candles and any large 'Cakes' and firework 'Battles', these would be placed just in front of the mines, if any. The reason for placing set piece battles near the back of the display is that most battles have roman candles attached and may be firing at a lower angle than normal. Also the back of the display site are placed all the Rockets. When deciding on a site plan and where the fireworks will be laid out, considerations must be allowed for, such as, near-by trees, overhead cables and fallout area.