Pyrotechnics
Overview
 
Pyrotechnics is the science of using materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic
Exothermic
In thermodynamics, the term exothermic describes a process or reaction that releases energy from the system, usually in the form of heat, but also in the form of light , electricity , or sound...

 chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound. Pyrotechnics include not only the manufacture of fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

 but items such as safety matches, oxygen candles, explosive bolts and fasteners, and components of the automotive airbag
Airbag
An Airbag is a vehicle safety device. It is an occupant restraint consisting of a flexible envelope designed to inflate rapidly during an automobile collision, to prevent occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window...

.

Individuals responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnic devices are referred to as pyrotechnician
Pyrotechnician
A pyrotechnician is an individual responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic devices. Although the term is generally used in reference to individuals who operate pyrotechnics in the entertainment industry, it can include all individuals who...

s.
Explosions, flashes, smoke, flames, fireworks or other propellant driven effects used in the entertainment industry are referred to as pyrotechnic special effects, theatrical effects, or proximate pyrotechnics.
Encyclopedia
Pyrotechnics is the science of using materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic
Exothermic
In thermodynamics, the term exothermic describes a process or reaction that releases energy from the system, usually in the form of heat, but also in the form of light , electricity , or sound...

 chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound. Pyrotechnics include not only the manufacture of fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

 but items such as safety matches, oxygen candles, explosive bolts and fasteners, and components of the automotive airbag
Airbag
An Airbag is a vehicle safety device. It is an occupant restraint consisting of a flexible envelope designed to inflate rapidly during an automobile collision, to prevent occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window...

.

Individuals responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnic devices are referred to as pyrotechnician
Pyrotechnician
A pyrotechnician is an individual responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic devices. Although the term is generally used in reference to individuals who operate pyrotechnics in the entertainment industry, it can include all individuals who...

s.

Proximate pyrotechnics

Explosions, flashes, smoke, flames, fireworks or other propellant driven effects used in the entertainment industry are referred to as pyrotechnic special effects, theatrical effects, or proximate pyrotechnics. Proximate refers to the pyrotechnic device's location relative to an audience. In the majority of jurisdictions, special training and licensing must be obtained from local authorities to legally prepare and use proximate pyrotechnics.

Many musical groups use pyrotechnics to enhance their live shows. Some of the earliest bands to use pyrotechnics were The Who
The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey , Pete Townshend , John Entwistle and Keith Moon . They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction...

, Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

, KISS
KISS (band)
Kiss is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Well-known for its members' face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting,...

 and Queen, even Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

 attempted using pyrotechnics in a 1984 Pepsi advertisement , failing miserably and setting his hair on fire. German industrial metal band Rammstein
Rammstein
Rammstein is a German Neue Deutsche Härte band from Berlin, formed in 1994. The band consists of members Till Lindemann , Richard Z. Kruspe , Paul H. Landers , Oliver "Ollie" Riedel , Christoph "Doom" Schneider and Christian "Flake" Lorenz...

 are renowned for their large variety of pyrotechnics, which range from flaming costumes to face-mounted flamethrowers. Nightwish
Nightwish
Nightwish is a Finnish symphonic metal band from Kitee, Finland. Formed in 1996 by songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former vocalist Tarja Turunen, Nightwish's current line-up has five members, although Tarja has been replaced by Anette Olzon and the...

, Lordi
Lordi
Lordi is a Finnish hard rock/heavy metal band, formed in 1996 by the band's lead singer, songwriter and costume-designer, Mr. Lordi. The band is known for wearing monster masks and using pyrotechnics during concerts...

 and Green Day
Green Day
Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1987. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool...

 are also known for their vivid pyrotechnics in concert. Many professional wrestlers have also used pyrotechnics as part of their entrances to the ring.

Modern pyrotechnics are, in general, divided into categories based upon the type of effect produced or manufacturing method. The most common categories are:
  • Airburst - Hanging charges designed to burst into spheres of sparks.
  • Binary kits - Powders divided into oxidizer and fuel intended to be mixed before use.
  • Comets (meteor)
    Comet (pyrotechnics)
    In pyrotechnics a comet is a block attached to the outside of a shell or launched freely, which burns and emits sparks as the shell is rising, leaving a trail in the sky. Some comets use a matrix composition with small stars embedded in it. The matrix composition burns with little light but...

     - Rising shots resembling shooting stars.
  • Preloaded Comet
    Comet (pyrotechnics)
    In pyrotechnics a comet is a block attached to the outside of a shell or launched freely, which burns and emits sparks as the shell is rising, leaving a trail in the sky. Some comets use a matrix composition with small stars embedded in it. The matrix composition burns with little light but...

  • Preloaded Mine - Tubes containing a lift charge intended to project stars, sparks, confetti or streamers.
  • Preloaded Smoke Pot - Cartridges designed to release a mushroom cloud of smoke.
  • Preloaded Report (concussion tube) - Tubes designed to create a loud report.
  • Falls - Devices intended to drop like falling stars.
  • Fireballs / Mortar Hits - Containers creating mushroom clouds of flame.
  • Flame Projector
    Flame projector
    In pyrotechnics, a flame projector is a special effects device that projects a column of flame upwards, for a short, determined and controllable, period, usually on the order of a few seconds...

     - Columns shooting pillars of flame.
  • Flare (Torch)
    Flare (pyrotechnic)
    A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. Flares are used for signalling, illumination, or defensive countermeasures in civilian and military applications...

     - Short, high intensity flames or various colours.
  • Flash Cotton (Sparkle String) - Cotton string impregnated with nitrocellulose
    Nitrocellulose
    Nitrocellulose is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating cellulose through exposure to nitric acid or another powerful nitrating agent. When used as a propellant or low-order explosive, it is also known as guncotton...

    .
  • Flashpaper - Sheets of nitrocellulose
    Nitrocellulose
    Nitrocellulose is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating cellulose through exposure to nitric acid or another powerful nitrating agent. When used as a propellant or low-order explosive, it is also known as guncotton...

     resembling tissue paper.
  • Flash Pot - A container for creating a bright flash and smoke.
  • Flash Tray (split mine) - A long tube creating a wide, bright flash.
  • Gerb (including fountain, whistle, and waterfall) - A fountain of sparks.
  • Lance - A small brightly colored fountaĉin that produces few sparks.
  • Line Rockets - Whistling gerbs traveling across wires.
  • Multi-Tube Article (multi-shot plate, multiple shot repeater boards and bombardo boards; designed to function in sequence) - Multiple effects chained together.
  • Pre-Mixed Powder - Powders intended to create various effects. (Concussions, flashes, etc.)
  • Squib
    Squib (explosive)
    A squib is a miniature explosive device used in a wide range of industries, from special effects to military applications. It resembles a tiny stick of dynamite, both in appearance and construction, although with considerably less explosive power...

     - A small, pre-matched device typically used to replicate bullet hits.
  • Strobe - A device intended to create bright repetitive flashes.
  • Wheel (Saxon)
    Saxon (firework)
    The saxon is a rapidly spinning ground based firework that is basic in design and construction.There are slight variations but typically the saxon consists of two tubes which are filled with composition and have a clay plug at the end. They are joined in the centre by wooden dowel and pivot at...

     - Tubes that create a spinning wheel of sparks.


A basic theatrical effect, designed to create a jet or fountain of sparks, is referred to as a gerb. A gerb consists of a sufficiently strong and non-flammable container to hold the pyrotechnic compound. Typical pyrotechnic formulations consist either of flammable materials such as nitrocellulose and/or black powder or a mixture of a fuel and oxidizer blended in situ. A plug placed at one end of the container with a small orifice, called a choke, constricts the expulsion of the ignited pyrotechnic compound, increasing the size and aggressiveness of the jet.
Various ingredients may be added to pyrotechnic devices to provide colour, smoke, noise or sparks. Special additives and construction methods are used to modify the character of the effect produced, either to enhance or subdue the effect; for example, sandwiching layers of pyrotechnic compounds containing potassium perchlorate, sodium salicylate or sodium benzoate with layers that do not creates a fountain of sparks with an undulating whistle.

In general, such pyrotechnic devices are initiated by a remotely controlled electrical signal that causes an electric match
Electric match
An electric match is a device that uses an externally applied electric current to ignite a combustible compound.-Use:Electric matches can be used in any application where source of heat is needed at a precisely controlled point in time, typically to ignite a propellant or explosive...

, or e-match, to produce ignition. The remote control may be manual, via a switch console, or computer controlled according to a pre-programmed sequence and/or a sequence that tracks the live performance via stage cues.

Display pyrotechnics

Display pyrotechnics, also known as commercial fireworks, are pyrotechnic devices intended for use outdoors, where the audience can be further away, and smoke and fallout is less of a concern. Generally the effects, though often similar to proximate pyrotechnics, are of a larger size and more vigorous in nature. It will typically take an entire day to setup a professional fireworks display. The size of these fireworks can range from 50 mm (2") to over 600 mm (24") diameter depending on the type of effect and available distance from the audience. In most jurisdictions, special fireworks training and licensing must be obtained from local authorities to legally prepare and use display pyrotechnics.

Consumer pyrotechnics

Consumer pyrotechnics are devices readily available for purchase to the general public with little or no special licensing or training. These items are considered relatively low hazard devices but, like all pyrotechnics, can still be hazardous and should be stored, handled and used appropriately. Some of the most common examples of consumer pyrotechnics encountered include recreational fireworks
Fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

 (including whistling and sparking types), model rocket motors, highway and marine distress flares
Flare (pyrotechnic)
A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. Flares are used for signalling, illumination, or defensive countermeasures in civilian and military applications...

, sparklers and caps for toy guns. Pyrotechnics are also indirectly involved in other consumer products such as powder actuated nail gun
Nail gun
A nail gun, nailgun or nailer is a type of tool used to drive nails into wood or some other kind of material. It is usually driven by electromagnetism, compressed air , highly flammable gases such as butane or propane, or, for powder-actuated tools, a small explosive charge...

s, ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

 for firearms, and modern fireplaces. Some types, including bird scarer
Bird scarer
A bird scarer is any one of a number devices designed to scare birds, usually employed by farmers to dissuade birds from eating recently planted arable crops....

s, shell crackers, whistle crackers and flares, may be designed to be fired from a 12-gauge pistol or rifle.

Safety

Pyrotechnics are dangerous and must be handled and used properly. Recently, several high profile incidents involving pyrotechnics have re-enforced the need to respect these explosives at all times. Proximate pyrotechnics is an area of expertise that requires additional training beyond that of other professional pyrotechnics areas and the use of devices specifically manufactured for indoor, close proximity use.

Homemade devices

A common low-budget pyrotechnic flash pot is built using modified screw-in electric fuses in a common light fixture. Homemade devices commonly fail to include the appropriate safety features and can provide numerous hazards, including:
  • The firing circuit using direct unisolated AC line voltage, which is a shock hazard to the operator and bystanders.
  • The use of high-current fuses as ignitors can cause large main circuit breakers and building-wide and street level fuses to trip, due to the sudden inrush of hundreds of amperes through a dead-shorted circuit
  • With a home-made device, there is usually no indication of whether the source is powered. Screwing a powder-loaded fuse into an unknowingly powered socket will result in immediate ignition of the pyrotechnics, injuring the operator.


Proper commercial flash pots include safety features such as warning pilot lamps, preignition grounding, and safing circuits. They also use isolated and low-voltage power sources, and have keyed power connections to help prevent accidental ignition.

Pyrotechnic incidents

Pyrotechnics are dangerous substances that must always be treated with the utmost respect and with the proper training. Due to the hazardous nature of these materials, precautions must always be taken to ensure the safety of all individuals in the vicinity of pyrotechnics. Despite all precautions, accidents and errors occur from time to time, which may result in property damage, injury and in severe cases loss of life. These incidents may be the result of poorly manufactured product, unexpected or unforeseen events, or in many cases, the result of operator error.

Some of the more widely publicized incidents involving pyrotechnics in recent history include:

In 2003, improper use of pyrotechnics caused a fire in a Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 nightclub called The Station. The Station nightclub fire
The Station nightclub fire
The Station nightclub fire was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in American history, killing 100 people. The fire began at 11:07 PM EST, on Thursday, February 20, 2003, at The Station, a glam metal and rock n roll themed nightclub located at 211 Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick, Rhode Island.The...

 was started when the fireworks the band Great White
Great White
Great White is an American hard rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1978. The band gained popularity during the 1980s and early 1990s. The band released several albums in the late 1980s and gained airplay on MTV with music videos for songs like "Once Bitten, Twice Shy"...

 were using accidentally ignited inflammable soundproofing foam. The pyrotechnics in question were not appropriate. The foam caused combustion to spread rapidly and the resulting fire led to 100 deaths, apparently because their quick escape was blocked by ineffective exit doors. While the type of foam used and the lack of a sprinkler system were important factors in the fire, the Great White fire could likely have been prevented had those involved paid attention to standard safety practices around the use of pyrotechnics.

A similar pyrotechnic-induced fire in 2004 destroyed the Republica Cromagnon nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 194 people.

In May 2000, a small fire led to two massive explosions
Enschede fireworks disaster
The Enschede fireworks disaster was a catastrophic fireworks explosion occurring at the SE Fireworks depot on 13 May 2000, in the eastern Dutch city of Enschede....

 at the SE Fireworks Depot in Enschede
Enschede
Enschede , also known as Eanske in the local dialect of Twents, is a municipality and a city in the eastern Netherlands in the province of Overijssel and in the Twente region...

, Holland, leaving 23 people dead, 947 people injured, and an estimated 2,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

In March 2008, a pyrotechnic rocket fell off its cable and landed in the crowd at WWE Wrestlemaina 24 leading to a big investigation.

In February 2010, a pyrotechnic flame engulfed WWE wrestler Mark Calloway; he was seen with multiple burns throughout the show.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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