MANUAL Special Effect Pyrotechnics 2014 EDITION 3

MANUAL Special Effect Pyrotechnics 2014 EDITION 3
Special Effect Pyrotechnics
EDITION 3
2014
MANUAL
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Special Effect Pyrotechnics
MANUAL
EDITION 3
2014
Information contained in this publication or product may be reproduced, in part
or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes,
without charge or further permission, unless otherwise specified.
You are asked to:
• exercise due diligence in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced;
• indicate the complete title of the materials reproduced, and the name of the
author organization; and
• indicate that the reproduction is a copy of an official work that is published by
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and that the reproduction has not been
produced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of, NRCan.
Commercial reproduction and distribution is prohibited except with
written permission from NRCan. For more information, contact NRCan at
copyright.droitdauteur@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca.
Cat. No. M39-130/2013E (Print)
ISBN 978-1-100-23071-9
Cat. No. M39-130/2013E-PDF (Online)
ISBN 978-1-100-23070-2
Aussi disponible en français sous le titre : Manuel des pièces pyrotechniques pour
effets spéciaux
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of
Natural Resources , 2014
Table of contents
About this manual��������������������������������������� xi
Terminology��������������������������������������� xv
Types of pyrotechnic special effect products����������������� xvi
Chapter 1. Certification����������������������������������� 1
1.1
Users with a certificate�������������������������������� 1
1.1.1Pyrotechnician��������������������������������� 1
1.2
1.1.2
Senior Pyrotechnician���������������������������� 2
1.1.3
Special Effects Pyrotechnician����������������������� 3
1.1.4
Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord���������� 4
1.1.5
Visitor Pyrotechnician���������������������������� 5
1.1.6
Authority having jurisdiction����������������������� 6
1.1.7
Pyrotechnic logbook����������������������������� 6
1.1.8
Possession of certificate��������������������������� 7
1.1.9
False or misleading information���������������������� 7
Users without a licence or certificate����������������������� 7
1.2.1
Flash cotton, flash paper, flash string and sparkle string����� 7
1.2.2 Percussion caps and propellant powder used in historical
re-enactments��������������������������������� 8
1.2.3 Pyrotechnics used in student training���������������� 10
1.2.4 Requirements when using pyrotechnics��������������� 10
Chapter 2. Sale and storage of pyrotechnics������������������ 11
2.1Sale��������������������������������������������� 11
2.2Storage������������������������������������������ 12
2.2.1 Smokeless powder����������������������������� 12
2.2.2 Black powder��������������������������������� 12
2.2.3 Pyrotechnics stored in a dwelling������������������� 12
2.2.4 Pyrotechnics stored in a storage unit����������������� 13
2.2.5 Storage at site of use���������������������������� 13
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
iii
Chapter 3. Event approval�������������������������������� 15
3.1
Basic requirements���������������������������������� 15
3.1.1
Disconnection of smoke sensors�������������������� 16
3.1.2 Demonstration before the event�������������������� 16
3.1.3
Waiver of event approvals������������������������ 17
3.1.4
Fixed productions������������������������������ 17
3.1.5
Owner’s or agent’s permission��������������������� 17
3.2Liability������������������������������������������ 17
3.2.1 Liability insurance������������������������������ 18
3.2.2 Invalidating your insurance������������������������ 18
Chapter 4. Pre-event procedures��������������������������� 19
4.1
Safety: Everyone’s first responsibility��������������������� 19
4.2
Interrupting or terminating performances������������������ 19
4.3
Consequences of operating unsafely���������������������� 19
4.4
Alcohol and drugs����������������������������������� 20
4.5
Fire prevention measures����������������������������� 20
4.5.1 Fire evacuation plan���������������������������� 20
4.5.2 Fire extinguishers������������������������������ 20
4.5.3 Fire hoses����������������������������������� 21
4.6
Pre-performance check������������������������������� 21
4.7
Pre-show safety measures����������������������������� 21
4.8
Danger zone�������������������������������������� 22
4.8.1 Establishing the danger zone���������������������� 22
4.8.2 Concussion mortars����������������������������� 22
4.9
Following manufacturers’ instructions�������������������� 23
4.10 Safety glasses�������������������������������������� 23
4.11Devices������������������������������������������ 24
4.12 Damaged articles����������������������������������� 24
4.13 Removing pyrotechnics from storage��������������������� 24
4.14 Timing: Lower the exposure���������������������������� 24
4.15 Mixing two-component powder������������������������� 24
iv
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
4.16 Handling powders���������������������������������� 25
4.17 Special precautions���������������������������������� 25
4.18 High heat, open flames and smoking��������������������� 26
4.19 Friction, static and impact����������������������������� 26
4.20 Sympathetic communication: sparks, heat and shock���������� 26
4.21 Sensitivity of electric matches, squibs and detonators��������� 26
4.22 Fallout precautions���������������������������������� 27
4.23Airbursts����������������������������������������� 27
4.24 Line or grid rockets���������������������������������� 27
4.25 Bullet hits���������������������������������������� 28
4.26 Spark-producing devices������������������������������ 28
Chapter 5. Electric firing���������������������������������� 29
5.1Equipment���������������������������������������� 29
5.2
Controllers and cables�������������������������������� 29
5.3
Wireless controllers���������������������������������� 30
5.4
Power sources������������������������������������� 30
5.5
Pre-show inspection��������������������������������� 30
5.6
Preventing accidental firing���������������������������� 31
5.7
Connecting to a power supply�������������������������� 31
5.8
Preventing misfires caused by a lack of power��������������� 31
5.9
Circuit testers�������������������������������������� 32
5.10 Continuity testers����������������������������������� 32
5.11 Blasting ohmmeter���������������������������������� 32
5.12 Electrical circuit hazards������������������������������ 33
5.12.1Wiring�������������������������������������� 33
5.12.2Inductance����������������������������������� 33
5.12.3 Radio frequency energy from mobile transmitters�������� 34
5.12.4 Transient electrical currents����������������������� 34
5.12.5 Electrical storms������������������������������� 35
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
v
5.13 Mechanical circuit hazards����������������������������� 35
5.14 Final equipment check������������������������������� 35
5.15 Extra precautions����������������������������������� 35
5.16 Final site check������������������������������������� 36
Chapter 6. Special-purpose pyrotechnics��������������������� 37
6.1General������������������������������������������ 37
6.2
Fabricating special-purpose pyrotechnics������������������ 37
6.3
Fireball effects������������������������������������� 38
6.4
Detonating cord������������������������������������ 38
6.4.1 General description����������������������������� 38
6.4.2Properties����������������������������������� 38
6.4.3Characteristics�������������������������������� 39
6.4.4Uses��������������������������������������� 39
6.4.5Selection������������������������������������ 39
6.4.6Preparation���������������������������������� 40
6.4.7Initiation������������������������������������ 40
6.4.8 Peculiar hazards������������������������������� 40
6.5
Other requirements��������������������������������� 41
6.6
High explosives, including black powder������������������� 41
6.7
Black powder lifters: Consult the EDU��������������������� 42
6.8
Explosive charges����������������������������������� 42
6.9
Red Zone: Prohibited access���������������������������� 42
6.10 Shatter Zone: Window breakage������������������������� 43
6.11 Green Zone: General protection������������������������� 43
6.12 Numbers for the Red, Shatter and Green zones�������������� 43
6.13 Distances from other vulnerable features������������������ 43
6.14Filming������������������������������������������ 44
6.15 Explosives inside structures���������������������������� 44
6.16 All show, no go: Use no more charge than the job requires������ 45
6.17 Duds and misfires����������������������������������� 45
vi
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
6.18Firefighters��������������������������������������� 46
6.19 High explosives������������������������������������ 46
Chapter 7. Post-event procedures�������������������������� 47
7.1
Disabling the devices�������������������������������� 47
7.2 Duds and misfires����������������������������������� 47
7.3
Giving the “all clear”��������������������������������� 47
7.4
Unused pyrotechnics��������������������������������� 48
7.5
When to file an accident or incident report����������������� 48
7.6
What the accident or incident report must contain������������ 48
Chapter 8. Disposal������������������������������������� 49
8.1
Disposal of articles���������������������������������� 49
8.2
Recommended procedures���������������������������� 49
Chapter 9. Transportation�������������������������������� 51
9.1Authorities���������������������������������������� 51
9.2
Classification of explosives���������������������������� 51
9.3
Classes of dangerous goods���������������������������� 51
9.4
Hazard divisions of Class 1����������������������������� 52
9.5
Compatibility groups�������������������������������� 52
9.6
Classification of special effect pyrotechnics����������������� 53
9.7
Other TDG requirements������������������������������ 53
9.8
Special provision 76��������������������������������� 53
9.9
Consult the TDG for further details����������������������� 54
9.10 ERD vehicle requirements����������������������������� 54
Appendix 1. Explosives Regulatory Division of
Natural Resources Canada���������������������� 57
1.1
Explosives: Legally speaking��������������������������� 57
1.2
General jurisdiction��������������������������������� 57
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
vii
1.3
Range of responsibility������������������������������� 57
1.4
Use of explosives����������������������������������� 58
1.5Locations����������������������������������������� 58
1.6
Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory������������������ 58
1.7
Authorized effects���������������������������������� 58
1.8
Unauthorized effects��������������������������������� 58
1.9
Licences, permits and certificates for all types of explosives������ 59
1.10 Age limit����������������������������������������� 59
1.11 Police powers�������������������������������������� 59
Appendix 2. Background and characteristics of pyrotechnics����� 61
2.1
Word and action������������������������������������ 61
2.2Background��������������������������������������� 61
2.3
Pyrotechnic compositions����������������������������� 61
2.4
Finished products����������������������������������� 62
2.5
Pyrotechnics versus consumer and display fireworks���������� 62
Appendix 3. Basic chemistry of pyrotechnics������������������ 63
3.1Constituents�������������������������������������� 63
3.2
The reaction��������������������������������������� 63
3.3
Pyrotechnics versus high explosives���������������������� 63
3.4
Pyrotechnics: Science and art��������������������������� 64
3.5Ignition������������������������������������������ 64
3.6Propagation��������������������������������������� 64
3.7Requirements�������������������������������������� 64
3.8
Basic pyrotechnic principles���������������������������� 65
3.9
Common pyrotechnic ingredients������������������������ 65
3.10 Noise effects�������������������������������������� 66
3.11 Coloured flames and sparks���������������������������� 66
viii
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Appendix 4. Fireworks categories�������������������������� 67
4.1
Consumer fireworks (F.1)������������������������������ 67
4.2
Display fireworks (F.2)�������������������������������� 67
4.3
Pyrotechnic special effects (F.3)������������������������� 67
4.4
Fireworks accessories (F.4)����������������������������� 67
Appendix 5. Minimum separation distances for personal
communications devices����������������������� 69
Glossary ���������������������������������������������� 71
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
ix
This Page Intentionally left blank
x
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
About this manual
The purpose of this safety manual is to assist users in understanding the
Explosives Regulations, 2013 (the Regulations) as they relate to special effect
pyrotechnics and for the safe sale, use and storage of special effect pyrotechnics.
This manual also provides a guide to the authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) to
assist them in approving special effect pyrotechnic events.
It is the responsibility of all sellers and users of special effect pyrotechnics to
ensure compliance with the Regulations and the Explosives Act (the Act), as well
as all applicable provincial and municipal laws and by-laws. This manual does not
constitute legal advice.
If you have questions about the specifics of the legislation, contact the Explosives
Safety and Security Branch. If you require assistance in the interpretation of the
legislation, including the Regulations, and its potential application in specific
circumstances, contact your legal advisor. This manual is not intended to replace
the Act or the Regulations. Reference should always be made to the official
version of the Act and Regulations (available at http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/
acts/E-17/index.html).
Authority under the Act and the Regulations
Although this manual is available to inspectors appointed under the Act, they will
apply and enforce the Act and the Regulations based on the facts as they find
them during their inspections. This manual does not affect their enforcement and
compliance discretion in any way.
List of Authorized Explosives
Any explosive that is to be imported into or manufactured, transported, possessed
or used in Canada must appear on the List of Authorized Explosives or be allowed
by a permit, certificate or special authority issued by the Explosives Regulatory
Division for special tests or product trials.
Note
• Explosives include propellants, ammunition, fireworks, model rocket motors
and toy pistol caps, as well as blasting explosives.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
xi
• A testing protocol is established for authorization and classification
of Class 1 (Explosives), and this testing helps to establish the United
Nations classification.
Following a review of submitted specifications for the product, this testing
protocol may be initiated if further assurances are required or if the product
is new in the field. Testing is used to determine the safety of the product and
conformity with the manufacturer’s specifications.
These tests establish criteria for storage, transportation and general use of
the product.
Special effect pyrotechnics
Special effect pyrotechnics (called pyrotechnics in this manual) include type
F.3 explosives. The following types of explosives are also included if they will
be used to produce a special effect in a film or television production or a
performance before a live audience:
• fireworks accessories (type F.4)
• black powder and hazard category PE 1 black powder substitutes (type P.1)
• smokeless powder and hazard category PE 3 black powder substitutes
(type P.2)
• initiation systems (type I) (e.g. blasting accessories)
• blasting explosives (type E.1) (e.g. detonating cord)
• special purpose pyrotechnics (pyrotechnics that are combined at the site of
impending use with a flammable liquid, solid or gas to produce a custommade pyrotechnics special effect)
To use pyrotechnics safely and responsibly, you need a basic understanding of
three things:
• how pyrotechnics work
• how to use and handle pyrotechnics
• related laws and regulations
xii
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Audience
This manual has been developed for
• people wanting to work in the pyrotechnic special effects industry as
pyrotechnicians
• existing pyrotechnicians
• companies engaged in the sale or distribution of pyrotechnics
• performers who work with pyrotechnics
• authorities having jurisdiction, i.e. fire chief or fire protection officer (one of
these will be the AHJ in most cases)
• designated representatives for event approval or site inspections: police
forces, including explosives disposal units (EDUs) or equivalent, and
provincial/territorial occupational health and safety organizations
What this manual addresses
This manual provides guidance about the Act and the Regulations and addresses
• sale, purchase, storage, use and disposal of all pyrotechnics as used in the
performing arts, including
–– indoor or outdoor performances
–– live performances, as well as those produced without an audience
(e.g. a closed production)
–– theatrical, musical or similar productions
–– videotaping, audiotaping or filming of any movie, television, radio or
private performance
–– rehearsals
–– product trials and evaluations
–– any event using pyrotechnics
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
xiii
What this manual does not address
The guidance provided by this manual does not apply:
• to consumer fireworks (F.1), unless they are used in conjunction
with pyrotechnics
• to display fireworks (F.2), unless they are used in conjunction
with pyrotechnics
• where pyrotechnics are prohibited by provincial/territorial law or regulation,
or municipal or city by-law. You must abide by that prohibition.
• in jurisdictions having pertinent and more stringent standards, regulations
and requirements
Note
You must comply with the laws and regulations of other jurisdictions,
even when they differ from the Act and the Regulations. You must
also continue to comply with the Act and the Regulations. As a rule
of thumb, comply with the most stringent regulation.
It is the responsibility of the pyrotechnician in charge to be aware
of all relevant authorities, such as occupational health and safety
or municipal bodies and ensure that all regulations and directions
are followed.
• where the pyrotechnic special effects used are not defined as explosives
under the Act. These include flame special effects such as
–– hand-held burning devices (e.g. lighters, alcohol wands)
–– small fires used to create a theme, compressed gas or liquid flame
generators (e.g. propane flame bar, flame-breathing dragon)
If consumer or display fireworks are used in conjunction with, or at, pyrotechnic
special effects events, contact the ERD for further guidance.
Flame special effects
For direction on flame special effects (flammable liquids, gases and solids) that
are not defined as explosives under the Act, contact your AHJ. As a guide, you can
consult the National Fire Protection Association (United States) document NFPA
160, Standard for the Use of Flame Effects Before an Audience. Provincial/territorial
and municipal standards may apply.
xiv
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Note This manual does apply to flame special effects used with pyrotechnics
and/or detonating cord (a high explosive) to fabricate special purpose
pyrotechnics, for example,
• a fireball effect made up of black powder (as an igniting/lifting/
dispersing charge) with fuel oil placed in a plastic bag (turkey bag)
and situated on top of the black powder charge. Ignition is normally
accomplished with an electric match placed into the black powder.
Terminology
To add clarity, the following terms are used in this manual.
Pyrotechnician: The term “pyrotechnician” includes special effect pyrotechnics
technicians, lead pyrotechnicians, lead technicians, special effects coordinators
(SEC), and similar terms. It is also used as a generic term to refer to all classes of
pyrotechnicians as set out in the Regulations.
Classes of pyrotechnicians: Where the manual refers to a class of pyrotechnicians,
the actual class name is capitalized and in italics: Pyrotechnician, Senior
Pyrotechnician, Special Effects Pyrotechnician and Visitor Pyrotechnician.
Article: The pyrotechnic article that produces the effect, and includes
• igniters and initiators
• authorized pyrotechnics
• black and smokeless powder
• detonating cord and associated articles
• special-purpose pyrotechnics
Device: The physical configuration in which the pyrotechnic special effect article
is employed or situated (e.g. a concussion mortar, supporting framework for
pyrotechnic articles such as a gerb fan, a truncated-pyramid mortar used to situate
and direct a special-purpose pyrotechnic fireball, etc.)
• The term can also include the pyrotechnic articles, depending on the usage
(e.g. cable cutter) and by industry convention (e.g. a spark-producing device,
which is actually an article by the above description).
Cap: The unit of measure within the pyrotechnic industry for standard, mixed,
two-component powder. “One cap” means “one cap full,” using the cap from the
largest plastic bottle (bottle labeled “B”).
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
xv
Effect: The resultant flame, sparks, heat, light, noise, concussion and/or
mechanical action produced from the functioning of any pyrotechnic special
effect article.
Equipment: All associated electrical and mechanical items or systems
(e.g. controller, wiring, zip cord, test instruments).
Site (Location): A specific or general place for the filming of scenes or shoots.
Venue: A specific public location where live performances take place (theatre,
night club, coliseum).
Types of pyrotechnic special effect products
The primary types or groups of pyrotechnic special effect products cited in this
manual are listed and described as follows.
Authorized pyrotechnics or pyrotechnics (F.3)
• pyrotechnic articles (e.g. electric matches, squibs, mines, gerbs and saxons),
including two-component or pre-mixed powders (e.g. airburst, concussion or
flash powder) that have been tested and authorized (approved) for sale and
use in Canada
Igniter
• an article typically producing a short-duration flame or flash (i.e. an electric
match), generally used for the ignition of fuses, pyrotechnic articles (including
powders), black and smokeless powder, and possibly flammables
• In certain applications, squibs are used for ignition as well.
• A squib differs from an electric match in that the squib contains an electric
match as well as a pyrotechnic base charge.
Initiator
• articles that are manufactured for a purpose other than simple flame ignition
(e.g. various strength squibs, spark-producing devices and bullet hits)
• items that are used to initiate (detonate) detonating cord and other
pyrotechnic special effect articles
Black powder
• used to make up explosive charges (e.g. black powder lifters)
Smokeless powder
• used in flame projectors to produce a vertical column of flame up to
3 metres (m) high
xvi
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Detonating cord (a commercial high explosive)
• a flexible cord containing powerful high explosives (PETN) with the explosive
load expressed in grams per metre (g/m). The velocity of detonation (VOD)
is approximately 7000 metres per second (m/s) (25 000 kilometres per hour
[km/h]).
• The diameter of detonating cords ranges from 3 millimetres (mm) to 15 mm,
with core loads (quantity of PETN per metre length of cord) of 1 to 85 g/m,
respectively.
• initiated by commercial detonators or high-strength squibs that do not
produce shrapnel themselves
• used in the film and television industries to
–– disperse and ignite flammable liquids, gases and solids
–– shear off metal or destroy small objects such as car axles and beams
–– create instant openings through doors or walls (destruction or rapid entry)
Note The word “det-cord” is used as an abbreviation for detonating cord
throughout the manual. The words “det-cord and associated articles” are
used as a simplification throughout the manual.
Note Det-cord and associated articles are allowed for use by Special Effects
Pyrotechnicians who hold the fireworks operator certificate for Special
Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord.
Special purpose pyrotechnics
• Special purpose pyrotechnics means pyrotechnics that are combined with a
flammable liquid, solid or gas to produce custom-made special effects.
Right to appeal
You have the right to request a review of decisions of the Chief Inspector of
Explosives (CIE) regarding suspensions or cancellations of certificates.
Prior to cancelling or suspending a certificate, the CIE will notify the certificate
holder, in writing, of the decision to be made and provide an opportunity for the
certificate holder to provide reasons why the certificate should not be suspended
or cancelled.
Should the CIE suspend or cancel the certificate after the opportunity to provide
reasons has passed or after reasons not to suspend or cancel have been given, the
certificate holder may request a review of the CIE’s decision to suspend or cancel.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
xvii
Requests for reviews must be made in writing and should be addressed to the
Minister of Natural Resources, in care of the CIE, and must be made within 15 days
after the CIE has given the certificate holder notice of the decision.
Amendments and revisions
This manual will be amended and updated to account for changes in technology,
law and practice. We welcome your comments and recommendations. The ERD
will communicate major changes in policy and direction to the industry through
bulletins, directive letters or newsletters. Notification of any upcoming changes
will be posted on the ERD Web site at erd.nrcan.gc.ca.
xviii
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 1. Certification
1.1
with
a certificate
TitleUsers
page
goes
here
Pyrotechnics is a wide and varied field. A theatre technician reproducing a
lightning strike during a stage play, a pyrotechnician lighting up a rock concert,
a Special Effects Pyrotechnician destroying structures in a film scene – all of
these may use pyrotechnic special effects, which requires certification under
the Regulations.
In view of the varied backgrounds and experience of pyrotechnicians, the wide
spectrum of pyrotechnic special effect articles and devices, differing physical
situations and types of activities, pyrotechnic special effects certification is divided
into five fireworks operator certificates (FOCs):
• Pyrotechnician
• Senior Pyrotechnician
• Special Effects Pyrotechnician
• Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord
• Visitor Pyrotechnician
1.1.1Pyrotechnician
If you hold an FOC (Pyrotechnician), you may use
• explosives classified as type F.3 and fireworks accessories that have been
authorized for use by a Pyrotechnician or Visitor Pyrotechnician. The articles
that are authorized for use by the Pyrotechnician will be designated with the
letter “P” on the List of Authorized Explosives.
• smokeless powders
• explosives classified as type F.3, fireworks accessories and black powder, but
only under the direct supervision of a Senior Pyrotechnician or Special Effects
Pyrotechnician
• special purpose pyrotechnics for the film and television industry, but only
under the direct supervision of a Special Effects Pyrotechnician
• special purpose effects that use initiation systems and detonating cord for
the film and television industry, but only under the direct supervision of a
Special Effects Pyrotechnician who holds an FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician
– detonating cord)
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
1
Notes
To obtain an FOC (Pyrotechnician), you must complete, sign and send the
following to the ERD:
• Form F17-01
• photo of the applicant taken within the previous 12 months. A digital photo is
acceptable. (See Form F17-01 for details regarding the photo.)
• initial certification fee
In addition, you must successfully complete the Special Effect Pyrotechnics Safety
and Legal Awareness Course before you can be certified as a Pyrotechnician. The
ERD offers the course periodically, depending on demand, at various locations
throughout Canada. To register for a course or obtain information, contact the
ERD or your local vendor.
The FOC (Pyrotechnician) will be valid for five years from the date of issue.
1.1.2 Senior Pyrotechnician
If you hold an FOC (Senior Pyrotechnician), you may use
• explosives classified as type F.3 and fireworks accessories, black powder and
smokeless powders
• special purpose pyrotechnics for the film and television industry, but only
under the direct supervision of a Special Effects Pyrotechnician
• initiation systems and detonating cord for the film and television industry, but
only under the direct supervision of a Special Effects Pyrotechnician who holds
an FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord)
To obtain the FOC (Senior Pyrotechnician), you must
• have acted as a pyrotechnician for two years
• be able to safely use explosives that are classified as type F.3, and propellant
powder
The FOC (Senior Pyrotechnician) will be valid for five years from the date of issue.
2
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
To apply for the FOC (Senior Pyrotechnician), you must complete, sign and send
the following to the ERD:
Notes
• Form F17-02
• photo of the applicant taken within the previous 12 months. A digital photo is
acceptable. (See Form F17-02 for details regarding the photo.)
• three letters of recommendation. The letter must show that the applicant is
able to safely use explosives classified as type F.3 and propellant powder.
• a copy of the applicant’s work journal that includes
–– the date and place of each pyrotechnic event at which the applicant
worked and the types of explosives used
–– the capacity in which the applicant acted at each pyrotechnic event
(i.e. pyrotechnician in charge or crew)
–– the name of the applicant’s supervisor at each pyrotechnic event
• fee to upgrade the certificate
1.1.3 Special Effects Pyrotechnician
If you hold an FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician), you may
• assemble at the site of use and use special purpose pyrotechnics, the
explosives classified as type F.3, fireworks accessories, black powder and
smokeless powders
• use initiation systems and detonating cord for the film and television industry,
but only under the direct supervision of a Special Effects Pyrotechnician who
holds an FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord)
To obtain the FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician), you must
• have acted as a Senior Pyrotechnician for two years
• be able to safety use explosives that are classified as type F.3, propellant
powder and special purpose pyrotechnics
The FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician) will be valid for five years from the date
of issue.
To apply for the FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician), you must complete, sign and
send the following to the ERD:
• Form F17-02
• photo of the applicant taken within the previous 12 months. A digital photo is
acceptable. (See Form F17-02 for details regarding the photo.)
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
3
Notes
• three letters of recommendation from supervisors. The letter must show
that the applicant is able to safely use explosives classified as type F.3 and
propellant powder and special purpose pyrotechnics.
• A copy of the applicant’s work journal that shows the
–– date and place of each pyrotechnic event at which the applicant worked
and the types of explosives used
–– capacity in which the applicant acted at each pyrotechnic event
(i.e. pyrotechnician in charge or crew)
–– name of the applicant’s supervisor at each pyrotechnic event
• fee to upgrade the certificate
1.1.4 Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord
If you hold a FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord), you may
• assemble at the site of use and use special purpose pyrotechnics, explosives
classified as type F.3, fireworks accessories, black powder and smokeless
powders
• use initiation systems and detonating cord for the film and television industry
To obtain the FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord), you must
• have acted as a Special Effects Pyrotechnician for two years
• be able to safely use initiation systems and detonating cord
The FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord) will be valid for five years
from the date of issue.
To apply for the FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician – detonating cord), you must
complete, sign and send to the ERD
• Form F17-02
• photo of the applicant taken within the previous 12 months. A digital photo is
acceptable. (See Form F17-02 for details regarding the photo.)
• three letters of recommendation from supervisors. The letter must show
that the applicant is able to safely use explosives initiation systems and
detonating cord.
• a copy of the applicant’s work journal that shows the
–– date and place of each pyrotechnic event at which the applicant worked
and the types of explosives used
–– capacity in which the applicant acted at each pyrotechnic event
(i.e. pyrotechnician in charge or crew)
–– name of the applicant’s supervisor at each pyrotechnic event
• fee to upgrade the certificate
4
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
High explosives other than initiation systems and detonating cord
Notes
Contact provincial/territorial authorities regarding the use of high explosives
other than initiation systems and detonating cord.
1.1.5 Visitor Pyrotechnician
If you are based outside of Canada and you plan to purchase, store, use and
destroy pyrotechnics in Canada, you must obtain an FOC (Visitor Pyrotechnician).
If you hold an FOC (Visitor Pyrotechnician) certificate, you may use
• explosives classified as type F.3 and fireworks accessories that have been
authorized for use by a Pyrotechnician or Visitor Pyrotechnician. Articles that
are authorized for use by the pyrotechnician will be designated with the letter
“P” on the List of Authorized Explosives.
• smokeless powders
• explosives classified as type F.3, fireworks accessories and black powder, but
only under the direct supervision of a Senior Pyrotechnician or Special Effects
Pyrotechnician
• special purpose pyrotechnics for the film and television industry, but only
under the direct supervision of a Special Effects Pyrotechnician, and special
purpose effects that use initiation systems and detonating cord for the film
and television industry, but only under the direct supervision of a Special
Effects Pyrotechnician who holds an FOC (Special Effects Pyrotechnician –
detonating cord)
To apply for the FOC (Visitor Pyrotechnician), you must complete, sign and send the
following to the ERD:
• Form F17-03
• photo of the applicant taken within the previous 12 months. A digital photo is
acceptable. (See Form F17-03 for details regarding the photo.)
• a copy of the applicant’s resume specifying the pyrotechnic events at
which they used pyrotechnics, and the people and organizations that held
pyrotechnic events for whom they worked
• a list of the pyrotechnics events in which the applicant plans to participate in
Canada and their dates
• the name, telephone number and fireworks certificate number of the
pyrotechnician in charge for each event
• certificate fee
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
5
Notes
1.1.6 Authority having jurisdiction
Authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and members of agencies associated with
pyrotechnic displays (an agency member may also be an AHJ) may attend the
Special Effects Pyrotechnics Safety and Legal Awareness course.
However, if they want to work on pyrotechnic displays as Pyrotechnicians, they
must meet the regulatory requirements for certification.
1.1.7 Pyrotechnic logbook
If you are the pyrotechnician in charge, you must keep a record of the pyrotechnic
event. The record must be kept in a logbook that provides your name and the
number and expiry date of your fireworks operator certificate. The logbook must
be kept for two years after the date of the last entry. The record must include
• a copy of the plan prepared for the event
• a copy of the AHJ’s approval to hold the event
• the name and address of every person who worked at the event under the
supervision of the pyrotechnician in charge
• a description of any unusual occurrence, the number of misfires and how
each misfire was dealt with
It is recommended that you keep a pyrotechnic logbook, journal or work
record even when you are not the pyrotechnician in charge. This logbook
also serves as an individual detailed account of a pyrotechnician’s activities or
employment history within the industry and is needed for certain certifications.
Some provinces/territories have this requirement for all users of pyrotechnic
special effects.
• This document should be maintained in a manner befitting the
pyrotechnician and employment situation. For example, record the necessary
information in something such as
–– a durable, waterproof, surveyor-style notebook
–– individual pages kept in a three-ring binder (the pages may be blank or
formatted to your needs)
–– an electronic journal with a PDF of hard copy documents
Standardized forms as used by certain union and trade groups can also be used if
they meet the above guidelines.
6
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
You will need this pyrotechnic journal or logbook to demonstrate your experience
and past activities to
Notes
• the ERD (when attempting to advance to a higher level of certification)
• the AHJ (when applying for event approval, permits or permission)
• explosives disposal unit (EDU) members (or equivalent) or consultants who
might be overseeing the events, scenes or shoots
• unions or trade associations
• producers, managers and property owners
• insurance representatives
• prospective employers within the industry
1.1.8 Possession of certificate
If you as a pyrotechnician are purchasing, handling, setting up, operating or
disposing of pyrotechnic special effects, the pyrotechnic certificate should be in
your immediate possession at all times and available for inspection by the AHJ,
ERD or other relevant authorities.
1.1.9 False or misleading information
Under Section 19 of the Act, anyone who submits false or misleading information
– for example, in a pyrotechnic journal or letter of reference – is in contravention of
the Act and can be prosecuted. Pyrotechnic special effects certification may also
be refused, suspended or cancelled as a result.
1.2 Users without a licence or certificate
1.2.1 Flash cotton, flash paper, flash string and sparkle string
If you do not hold a fireworks operator certificate or licence, you may purchase,
store and use flash cotton, flash paper or sparkle string in accordance with the
following conditions.
Storage
No more than 200 g of flash cotton, 1 kilogram (kg) of flash paper, 200 g of flash
string and 200 g of sparkle string may be stored at any one time.
You must store the flash cotton, flash paper, flash string or sparkle string in a
dwelling or a storage unit and ensure that the following requirements are met.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
7
Notes
When pyrotechnics are stored in a dwelling, they must be stored away from
flammable substances and sources of ignition, in a manner that protects them
from theft and ensures that access is limited to people authorized by the user.
When pyrotechnics are stored in a storage unit,
• The storage unit must be located in a dry place, away from flammable
substances and sources of ignition.
• The storage unit must be constructed and maintained to prevent
unauthorized access and to protect the contents from weather.
• If the storage unit is a container, it must not impede exit in case of fire.
• If the storage unit is not a container, all exits must be kept unobstructed.
• Any shelving in the storage unit must be made from non-sparking material
(for example, wood or painted metal).
• Propellant powder, fireworks accessories and other pyrotechnics must be
stored separately from one another (for example, on different shelves or
separated by a wooden partition).
• Any spill, leakage or other contamination in the storage unit must be cleaned
up immediately.
• Precautions must be taken that minimize the likelihood of fire in or near the
storage unit.
• A sign that displays the words “Danger – Fire Hazard/Risque d’incendie” in
letters at least10-centimetres (cm) high, along with letters or a symbol at least
10-cm high indicating that smoking is prohibited, must be posted on the
storage unit in a clearly visible location.
1.2.2 Percussion caps and propellant powder used in historical
re-enactments
If you do not hold a fireworks operator certificate or licence, you may purchase,
store and use percussion caps and propellant powder if the caps and powder are
purchased for the use of original or reproduction firearms (including cannons) in
an historical re-enactment.
To purchase percussion caps and propellant powder for use in a historical
re‑enactment, you must
• have written consent of the local AHJ to hold the re-enactment or be under
the supervision of a person who has received such consent
• have experience in the safe use of explosives in historical re-enactments and
have completed a course on such use certified by the Minister of Natural
Resources or be under the supervision of a person who has such experience
and has completed such a course
8
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Storage
Notes
You must store the percussion caps and propellant powder in a dwelling or a
storage unit and ensure that the following requirements are met:
• Percussion caps must be stored in their original packaging.
• The maximum quantity of propellant powder that may be stored at any one
time in a single detached dwelling or in a storage unit that is attached to such
a dwelling is 25 kg, of which no more than 5 kg may be black powder.
The maximum quantity of smokeless powder that may be stored at any one time
in a dwelling other than a detached dwelling or a storage unit attached to such a
dwelling is
• 20 kg, if all the smokeless powder is in containers that hold no more than 1 kg
• 5 kg, if any of the smokeless powder is in a container that holds more
than 1 kg
Smokeless powder must be stored in its original container or in small
arms cartridges.
The maximum quantity of black powder that may be stored at any one time in
a dwelling other than a detached dwelling or a storage unit attached to such a
dwelling is
• 1 kg, if the black powder is in containers
• 3 kg, less any amount that is in containers, if the black powder is in small arms
cartridges or black powder cartouches
Black powder must be stored in its original container, in small arms cartridges or
in black powder cartouches.
When the percussion caps and propellant powder are stored in a dwelling, they
must be stored away from flammable substances and sources of ignition in a
manner that protects the pyrotechnics from theft and ensures that access to them
is limited to people authorized by the user.
When the percussion caps and propellant powder are stored in a storage unit,
• The storage unit must be located in a dry place, away from flammable
substances and sources of ignition.
• The storage unit must be constructed and maintained to prevent
unauthorized access and to protect the contents from weather.
• If the storage unit is a container, it must not impede exit in case of fire.
• If the storage unit is not a container, all exits must be kept unobstructed.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
9
Notes
• Any shelving in the storage unit must be made from non-sparking material
(for example, wood or painted metal).
• Propellant powder, fireworks accessories and other pyrotechnics must be
stored separately from one another (for example, on different shelves or
separated by a wooden partition).
• Any spill, leakage or other contamination in the storage unit must be cleaned
up immediately.
• Precautions must be taken that minimize the likelihood of fire in or near the
storage unit.
• A sign that displays the words “Danger – Fire Hazard/Risque d’incendie” in
letters at least 10-cm high, along with letters or a symbol at least 10-cm high
indicating that smoking is prohibited, must be posted on the storage unit in a
clearly visible location.
If you are planning to manufacture the charges, you may need to obtain a
manufacturing certificate or licence. Contact the ERD for further information.
1.2.3 Pyrotechnics used in student training
If you are registered in a college or university course on special effects
pyrotechnics that is certified by the Minister of Natural Resources, you
may use any pyrotechnics that your supervisor is authorized to use, during
your training and while under the direct supervision of a holder of the FOC
(Senior Pyrotechnician or Special Effects Pyrotechnician).
1.2.4 Requirements when using pyrotechnics
You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using pyrotechnics.
Do not use any pyrotechnics if they show signs of deterioration such as
discoloration or a vinegary smell. You must not use an electric match to ignite
flash cotton, flash paper, flash string or sparkle string.
10
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 2. Sale and storage of pyrotechnics
2.1Sale
A seller may purchase, store and sell pyrotechnics if they hold a licence. To obtain
a licence to sell pyrotechnics, contact your local ERD regional office.
A seller must
• store their pyrotechnics in the magazine specified in their licence
• not store igniters in the same magazine as other pyrotechnics unless the
igniters are an integral part of the pyrotechnics
• not put the pyrotechnics on display for sale
A seller must not sell pyrotechnics to a buyer unless the buyer is authorized:
• by their licence to acquire the type of pyrotechnics to be sold
• by Part 17 of the Regulations to acquire the type of pyrotechnics to be sold
• by their FOC to use the type of pyrotechnics to be sold
A seller must not sell more pyrotechnics to a licenced buyer than the buyer is
authorized by their licence to store. Also, a seller must not sell more pyrotechnics
to an unlicenced buyer, including a holder of an FOC, than the buyer is authorized
to store by Part 17 of the Regulations.
Before selling pyrotechnics, the seller must require the buyer to establish
their identity.
A seller must keep record of every sale of pyrotechnics for two years after the date
of the sale. The record must include the following information:
• buyer’s name and address
• number and expiry date of the buyer’s licence and fireworks operator
certificate, as applicable
• type and trade name of each pyrotechnics article sold, the quantity of
each type sold and the name of the company as it appears on the List of
Authorized Explosives
• short description of the effects of any explosives article sold
• container size of any propellant powder sold
• date of sale
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
11
Notes
2.2Storage
A user may purchase and store pyrotechnics if he/she holds the FOC required for
the use of the pyrotechnics to be acquired.
If you plan to store more than the amount described below, you must obtain a
licence from the ERD. Contact your local ERD regional office to apply for a licence.
You can store up to 500 electric matches and 25 kg gross mass of other
pyrotechnics at any one time.
The maximum quantity of propellant powder that may be stored at any one
time in a single detached dwelling or in a storage unit that is attached to such a
dwelling is 25 kg, of which no more than 10 kg may be black powder.
2.2.1Smokeless powder
The maximum quantity of smokeless powder that may be stored at any one time
in a dwelling other than a detached dwelling or a storage unit attached to such a
dwelling is
• 20 kg, if all the smokeless powder is in containers that hold no more than 1 kg
• 5 kg, if any of the smokeless powder is in a container that holds more
than 1 kg
Smokeless powder must be stored in its original container or small arms cartridges.
2.2.2Black powder
The maximum quantity of black powder that may be stored at any one time in
a dwelling other than a detached dwelling or a storage unit attached to such a
dwelling is
• 1 kg, if the black powder is in containers
• 3 kg, less any amount that is in containers, if the black powder is in small arms
cartridges or black powder cartouches
Black powder must be stored in its original container, in small arms cartridges or
in black powder cartouches.
2.2.3 Pyrotechnics stored in a dwelling
When pyrotechnics are stored in a dwelling, they must be stored away from
flammable substances and sources of ignition in a manner that protects the
pyrotechnics from theft and ensures that access to them is limited to people
authorized by the user.
12
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
2.2.4Pyrotechnics stored in a storage unit
Notes
When pyrotechnics are stored in a storage unit,
• The storage unit must be located in a dry place, away from flammable
substances and sources of ignition.
• The storage unit must be constructed and maintained to prevent
unauthorized access and to protect the contents from weather.
• If the storage unit is a container, it must not impede exit in case of fire.
• If the storage unit is not a container, all exits must be kept unobstructed.
• Any shelving in the storage unit must be made from non-sparking material
(for example, wood or painted metal).
• Propellant powder, fireworks accessories and other pyrotechnics must be
stored separately from one another (for example, on different shelves or
separated by a wooden partition).
• Any spill, leakage or other contamination in the storage unit must be cleaned
up immediately.
• Precautions must be taken that minimize the likelihood of fire in or near the
storage unit.
• A sign that displays the words “Danger – Fire Hazard/Risque d’incendie” in
letters at least 10-cm high, along with letters or a symbol at least 10-cm high
indicating that smoking is prohibited, must be posted on the storage unit in a
clearly visible location.
2.2.5Storage at site of use
A pyrotechnician in charge may store up to 5 kg of pyrotechnics in a storage unit
at the site of use.
Of the 5 kg of pyrotechnics that may be stored in the storage unit, no more than
3 kg may be propellant powder.
The storage unit must
• be made of, or lined with, a non-sparking material
• be marked with the words “Pyrotechnics/Pièces pyrotechniques”
• contain only pyrotechnics
• be kept locked and in an area that is not accessible by the public and away
from flammable substances and sources of ignition
Pyrotechnics must be attended when they are not in a storage unit or a magazine.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
13
Notes
14
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 3. Event approval
3.1 Basic requirements
Every organizer of a pyrotechnic event must ensure that the event is supervised
by a pyrotechnician in charge.
The pyrotechnician in charge must ensure that the event is carried out safely
and that the requirements as detailed in the Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
are followed.
The written approval of the AHJ to hold the pyrotechnic event must be obtained
before the pyrotechnic event takes place.
Within a reasonable time before the event, present the written plan to the AHJ.
The plan must include the following information:
• name of the pyrotechnician in charge and the number and the expiry date of
his/her FOC
• location of the event
• a description of the site of the event, including the placement of the
pyrotechnics, the proximity of the audience and the location of every exit,
every pyrotechnic storage area and every smoke detector that may be
triggered by the pyrotechnics used in the event
• type and trade name of each pyrotechnic that will be used and the name of
the company as it appears on the List of Authorized Explosives
• description of each pyrotechnic
• anticipated height, duration and fallout effect of each of the pyrotechnics
• description of the anticipated effects of each special purpose pyrotechnic
• method and sequence of firing the pyrotechnics
• assessment of the likelihood of harm to people and property created by the
use of pyrotechnics
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
15
Notes
The written plan must be kept for two years after the date of the
pyrotechnic event.
The AHJ may also require more information as part of the approval process.
At the production site or venue, the pyrotechnician should have copies of the
following available for inspection:
• written plan as submitted to the AHJ for approval
• written approval of the AHJ
3.1.1Disconnection of smoke sensors
If the performance requires the disconnection or bypassing of smoke sensors or
any other safety or fire protection equipment, the pyrotechnician should
• Discuss the feasibility of obtaining permission from the AHJ to disconnect or
bypass the smoke detectors prior to or during the event approval process.
• Arrange for a person approved by the AHJ – a “fire watch” (not necessarily
from the fire department) – to be on site during all rehearsals and
performances, if required by the AHJ, and fulfill any other requirements.
• Obtain permission of the property owner or agent.
• Reactivate all safety equipment as soon as possible after the performance
or shoot.
3.1.2 Demonstration before the event
The AHJ may request that the pyrotechnician perform a representative
demonstration or dry run of the production to judge further whether the event
can be performed safely. The AHJ may consider that a demonstration is necessary
for reasons including
• The AHJ is unfamiliar with the pyrotechnician or the planned effects.
• There is a need to determine the ventilation capabilities of the venue for the
smoke produced.
• The AHJ is uncertain of how the functioning of the pyrotechnics might affect
the audience, performers, crew, pyrotechnicians, venue or site.
16
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
3.1.3Waiver of event approvals
Notes
If the AHJ knows that the work of a company or pyrotechnician has, over time,
met a consistently high standard, the AHJ may decide to waive (in writing)
the requirement for continually validating event approvals and associated
documentation for different events. Nevertheless, such companies or
pyrotechnicians must
• complete the event approval applications
• forward the applications to the AHJ for information
• keep copies of the applications for inspection and records
• keep a copy of the written waiver
3.1.4Fixed productions
If a performance is repeated without significant changes at a single location
(a fixed production), the AHJ may require only one event approval to cover the
entire event. The continuity of the event must be reflected in, or attached to, the
event approval form.
An example of a fixed production is a series of performances at a theatre in which
the event, employees and effects remain the same.
3.1.5Owner’s or agent’s permission
Before using pyrotechnic special effects in a venue or at a location, you must
obtain permission from the property owner or agent, preferably in writing.
3.2Liability
Liability, as used in this manual, refers to the possibility of being
• prosecuted in criminal court
• sued in civil court
Liability means that you, the pyrotechnician and possibly the assistants are liable
for the consequences of pyrotechnic use.
Associated participants in pyrotechnic events who may be held liable by the
courts include
• supervisors
• producers
• stage and production managers
• property owners
• directors
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
17
Notes
Note Under the Criminal Code of Canada (Section 79), pyrotechnicians must
also fulfill the “duty of care” or possibly face the consequences of noncompliance. Contact your legal advisor for further guidance.
3.2.1Liability insurance
If you are participating in any form of pyrotechnic event (e.g. an airburst
employed at a high school dance), you may be required by the AHJ to have
liability insurance for at least $1 million:
• The AHJ may not approve your event without proof that you have sufficient
liability insurance.
• In some situations, the management of the venue or the company
contracting for the pyrotechnic services may arrange insurance coverage. In
such cases, make sure that you
–– verify your coverage with the broker
–– confirm the deductible in the event of a claim
–– obtain written confirmation of the above two points
–– know what your policy covers
3.2.2Invalidating your insurance
Your insurance may be invalidated if you
• fail to follow the explosives regulations and/or accepted operating
procedures referred to in this manual
• engage in any other illegal or unapproved activities
Note If you have all the information required on the form except what pertains
to the pyrotechnician (because none has yet been hired, arrived, etc.), you
may, if the AHJ agrees,
• Submit the application and documentation for conditional approval.
• Follow this up by supplying the AHJ with the required information on
the pyrotechnician (including the pyrotechnician’s signature on the
form) no less than 24 hours before the event or in a timeframe and
manner agreed to by the AHJ.
18
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 4. Pre-event procedures
4.1 Safety: Everyone’s first responsibility
The safety of the public, performers, production employees and pyrotechnicians
is the prime consideration in all pyrotechnic events. The pyrotechnician in charge
has the final decision in all matters pertaining to pyrotechnics.
4.2 Interrupting or terminating performances
If, in the course of an event, unforeseen hazards develop with regard to the
pyrotechnics, equipment, surroundings, crew, performers, audience, or weather
conditions, the pyrotechnician and assistants have the responsibility and authority
to stop the performance or the functioning of individual articles until safety
is restored.
• Safety – not pressure from spectators or production personnel – must
dictate whether or not the show, shoot or firing of articles and devices
should continue.
4.3 Consequences of operating unsafely
If you are found to have used pyrotechnics in an unsafe or unauthorized manner,
the ERD may
• order the pyrotechnic activity to stop
• suspend or cancel your pyrotechnic certification
• take legal action
In addition, the AHJ and other related agencies, where safety is found to be
inadequate, have the authority to
• stop the pyrotechnic activity and/or event
• prohibit future events
• recommend that certification be suspended or cancelled
• take legal action
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
19
Notes
4.4 Alcohol and drugs
Safety requires a clear head. It is an offence to use or handle pyrotechnics
or devices while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, narcotics or
prescription or non-prescription drugs that can impair judgment.
4.5 Fire prevention measures
Adequate fire prevention measures and facilities, equipment and personnel for
fighting fire and administering first aid must be present at the site during the
pyrotechnic event.
4.5.1Fire evacuation plan
For all events involving pyrotechnics, you must
• Be knowledgeable of the fire evacuation plan (which must take the audience
into account).
• Ensure that staff understand and are aware of the plan’s pertinent points
(e.g. the location and availability of exits).
• Ensure that an emergency contingency plan (what to do if things go wrong),
which generally applies to film shoots, is drawn up for locations that have no
fire evacuation plan.
4.5.2Fire extinguishers
When you are preparing, loading or firing pyrotechnic special effects, ensure that
• at least two pressurized water, Class 2-A extinguishers and two Class 10-BC
extinguishers are located within 15 m of the pyrotechnic special effects and
equipment
• the fire extinguishers are accessible and maintained in accordance with
NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
• all pyrotechnicians are trained to use the fire extinguishers
• fire extinguishers remain on site until all pyrotechnics have been fired, stored
or disposed of in a safe manner
Note Pyrotechnic articles and compositions cannot be extinguished by
A:B:C- multi-purpose fire extinguishers or small quantities of water:
–– Pyrotechnic compositions contain their own source of oxygen and do
not need “air” to burn.
–– Extinguishers are used to control and extinguish the surrounding fire or
the possibility of a fire starting.
–– In some circumstances, water can cool the article or device and retard
the pyrotechnic effect.
20
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
The AHJ or other authorities can require or allow different classes, types or
locations of extinguishers and can also specify the number of trained operators
required, aside from the pyrotechnics crew.
Notes
4.5.3Fire hoses
Depending on the venue or location and the types of pyrotechnic special effects
employed, ensure that fire hoses
• are in working order
• service all high-risk areas
• can be reached quickly
• can be operated by the pyrotechnicians
4.6 Pre-performance check
Before setting up for any production, check for items that might be apt to catch
fire. Pay particular attention to
• carpets, blinds, screens, insulating materials and sets
• stage equipment and rigging
• burlap
• other flammables or material that may have been overlooked:
–– open your eyes, and look up
• areas in which sewer gases or vapour traps might be found
Note Even though flammable articles are treated with fire retardant, as may be
required by provincial/territorial and municipal agencies, do not reduce
the required safety distances from the pyrotechnic special effects. Fire
retardant is an added safety measure only and will deteriorate over time.
4.7 Pre-show safety measures
Meetings must be held with people who will participate in holding the
pyrotechnics event (for example, security guards, artists and technicians) to
inform them of the pyrotechnics that will be used and the safety precautions to be
taken during the event.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
21
Notes
Subsequent meetings must be held if the event is changed in a way that
increases the likelihood of harm to people or property created by the use of
the pyrotechnics.
The pyrotechnician in charge should conduct staging dry runs to demonstrate
timing, spacing and safety parameters and to demonstrate the pyrotechnics to
inexperienced performers in conjunction with the dry runs.
4.8 Danger zone
A danger zone must be established, taking into account the properties of the
pyrotechnics to be used, how they will be positioned, the manufacturer’s
instructions, the weather conditions if the pyrotechnic event is to be outdoors
and the likelihood of harm to people or property created by the use of
the pyrotechnics.
4.8.1Establishing the danger zone
General distances to audience and performers
To establish the distance from the pyrotechnics to the audience, you should use
the greatest of the following three distances:
• 5 m
• the distance recommended by the manufacturer
• twice the pyrotechnics’ fallout radius
Performers should maintain the greater of the following two distances:
• distance recommended by the manufacturer
• twice the pyrotechnics’ fallout radius
Note that these distances do not necessarily apply to effects positioned on a
performer’s body, including hand-held articles.
A 1.2-m corridor should be maintained between the spectators and the stage.
In some locations (e.g. night clubs), this may not be possible, but exit or escape
routes must nevertheless be adequate for the venue, kept clear and sanctioned by
the AHJ.
4.8.2Concussion mortars
Concussion mortars must be well-secured, separated from the audience,
performers and support personnel by at least 8 m, and barricaded (where
required, to guard against shrapnel).
22
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Alternative distances
Notes
Alternative distances may be acceptable if they
• do not conflict with the manufacturer’s instructions
• are proven to be safe
• are approved by the AHJ
Only people authorized by the pyrotechnician in charge may enter or remain in
the danger zone from the time the pyrotechnics are brought into the zone until
the pyrotechnician in charge declares the zone to be free of pyrotechnics.
Smoking is prohibited in the danger zone, and this must be enforced.
Note It is recommended that signs be posted at entrances to warn the audience
that the pyrotechnics to be employed may produce loud noise, flashes of
light and smoke.
4.9 Following manufacturers’ instructions
The pyrotechnician is responsible for following all manufacturers’ instructions
to the letter as long as they do not reduce the safety provisions in this manual –
follow the most stringent requirements. This includes instructions regarding
• equipment
• mixing procedures and quantities
• installation
• functioning
• required distances from
–– audiences
–– performers
–– support personnel
–– surrounding physical structures and material
4.10 Safety glasses
Always wear safety glasses when handling pyrotechnics or if you are nearby
during their use. The pyrotechnician in charge should ensure that all crew
members or people at risk are equipped with and wearing safety glasses.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
23
Notes
4.11Devices
A device for containing pyrotechnics must be
• designed and manufactured to prevent fragmentation or distortion of the
device
• designed and manufactured to prevent or contain fragmentation of the
pyrotechnics
• mounted to prevent any change in position or direction when used
• positioned and secured in a manner that minimizes the likelihood of harm to
people or property
• kept in good condition
4.12 Damaged articles
Pyrotechnics that are damaged, leaking, damp or contaminated must not be used.
Defective pyrotechnics should be returned to the vendor for disposal.
4.13 Removing pyrotechnics from storage
When removing pyrotechnic articles and devices from storage, select products
according to
• precedence – Articles in storage the longest, or with the oldest date stamp, if
indicated, should be used first.
• quantity – Remove only what you need for one event.
Note Never carry or place pyrotechnic special effects in your clothing. Instead,
use a small carrying container. Once you have removed pyrotechnic
articles from storage (or set them up for operation), never leave
them unattended.
4.14 Timing: Lower the exposure
Be sure to set up and position the articles as close as possible to the start time of
the rehearsal, performance or film shoot.
4.15 Mixing two-component powder
Two-component powder must be mixed:
• in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
• in an area restricted to public access
• one unit at a time, by using the entire contents of both bottles
24
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
• only in the manufacturer’s designated equipment
Notes
Do not mix or use two-component powder that is “time expired.”
• Immediately initial and date all bottles of powder that you mix. Initial and
date pre-mixed powders as soon as you open them.
• Never “mix and match” powders.
In addition,
• Use powders only with manufacturer-approved equipment.
• Be very cautious of concussion powder, and pay close attention to mortar
specifications. Use of incorrect concussion powder and mortars could lead to
catastrophic results because of the different velocities of the powders.
4.16 Handling powders
All loose compositions, including mixed or unmixed two-component powders,
pre-manufactured powders, and black and smokeless powders, must be handled:
• in a restricted area with only authorized people present
• with non-sparking tools
• so as to avoid friction and impact
• on a clean and uniform surface or table (clean up all spills immediately)
• with no smoking in the area
• in accordance with the following precautions against the risk of
static discharge:
–– Avoid wearing static-producing synthetic clothing or material.
–– Ground yourself frequently by touching the table, articles and all
equipment to equalize potential.
4.17 Special precautions
Do not confuse black powder, as used in black powder lifters, with modern
smokeless powder, as used in flame projectors. The consequences of such
confusion could be disastrous.
All mixing and loading of compositions, as well as the fabrication and placement
of devices should, if possible, be carried out by one pyrotechnician. Having only
one person perform these tasks will improve safety and quality control by
• eliminating “double loading” and uncharged devices
• reducing the instance of incorrect fabrication, especially when assembling
special-purpose pyrotechnics
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
25
Notes
4.18 High heat, open flames and smoking
High heat and open flames must never be close enough to pyrotechnic articles
and devices to present a hazard. With respect to smoking, you are responsible for
ensuring that
• Smoking is prohibited by anyone in the magazine and preparation area and
on the stage or location.
• “No Smoking” signs are posted.
Note Smoking that may be required as part of the performance can take
place at a safe distance from pyrotechnic articles if it is approved by
the pyrotechnician.
4.19 Friction, static and impact
Friction, static and impact can also accidentally set off pyrotechnic articles
and powders. Treat all articles with caution and maintain a clean, orderly and
controlled working area.
4.20 Sympathetic communication: sparks, heat and shock
To minimize the risk of having sparks or heat initiate an adjacent article or device,
• Lightly cap open devices with a fire-resistant material (e.g. aluminum foil).
• Take care to secure the capping material so that it will neither be projected
into the air nor confine the effect.
To lessen the chance of shock from an adjacent article (e.g. concussion mortars)
causing accidental sympathetic ignition, separate and/or barricade the articles.
4.21 Sensitivity of electric matches, squibs and detonators
In addition to being subject to accidental firing through spurious electrical
mechanisms, all igniters and initiators (e.g. electric matches, squibs and
detonators) are extremely sensitive to impact, friction and heat. In fact, they
may be even more sensitive to these factors than the powders they ignite. When
handling these articles, never allow your attention to wander from the task
at hand.
26
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
4.22 Fallout precautions
Notes
Articles and devices must be positioned and test fired so that fallout (or the
resultant effect) cannot
• come into contact with other (unprotected) pyrotechnics or flammable
materials
• burn surfaces, injure people or damage property
Note Lights or signals are often used to warn of an imminent firing.
4.23Airbursts
If airbursts are positioned over an audience, performers or support personnel,
ensure that
• The support rigging is fire-resistant.
• The airbursts are situated away from other unprotected pyrotechnics and
flammable materials.
• The minimum required fallout distance is maintained. Some venues will not
accommodate airbursts because of
–– ceiling height
–– ventilation requirements
Note Airbursts are sometimes mounted well above the stage or audience where
they cannot be seen by the pyrotechnician. In such cases, use spotters and
consult with the AHJ for direction.
4.24 Line or grid rockets
Line or grid rockets are, in essence, thrust-producing gerbs that normally produce
a scream, whistle or crackling effect. They are attached to aircraft cable tightly
strung across a venue such as a large nightclub or coliseum. Ensure that
• There is a safe fallout distance to the audience.
• Proper rigging equipment is employed (consult or employ an approved rigger
if necessary).
• Cable is rigged securely to supporting members.
• Rockets cannot separate from the cable leader (firmly secured and taped).
• Rockets will not burn adjacent material or rigging on initiation (e.g. nylon
rope, burlap).
• Rockets can be safely “caught” at the far end of the cable so that they do not
fly off the cable or continue to openly discharge.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
27
Notes
4.25 Bullet hits
Body hits (positioned on a person)
• are specifically designed to produce a sharp explosion
• may be mounted in an indentation on a custom metal receptacle with
a leather backing to direct the explosion outward from the performer
(the receptacle can be mounted over soft material for the performer’s
further protection)
• can be covered with a plastic bag containing simulated blood
In addition,
• Clothes that cover the article should be cut or weakened.
• Precautions must be taken to ensure that the audience, performers and
support personnel are protected from possible sparks, shrapnel and debris.
Bullet hits positioned in or on surroundings
• must be mounted in or on a surrounding wall, floor, ceiling, structure or prop
• must be suitably covered or protected
• must be staged so as to ensure that the audience, performers and support
personnel are protected from possible sparks, shrapnel and debris
Note If you as a performer activate the bullet hit yourself, make sure you use a
two-step ignition procedure.
4.26 Spark-producing devices
Spark-producing devices (SPD) are often used to simulate the production of
sparks, as in an electrical short circuit or a bullet ricochet:
• Ensure that the SPD is mounted in or on a surrounding wall, floor, ceiling,
structure or prop (or firmly secured to a performer, in some cases).
• Take precautions to ensure that the audience, performers and support
personnel are protected from the sparks or possible shrapnel and debris.
28
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 5. Electric firing
5.1Equipment
Use only devices and associated equipment that are specifically designed and
manufactured to electrically activate pyrotechnic special effects. It is understood
that the Special Effects Pyrotechnicians may need to use equipment (such as nail
boards, clunker boxes, and one-shot buttons) that are not available commercially.
5.2 Controllers and cables
Commercial controllers (panels, firing boards) that activate the articles or devices
are typically designed with a built-in test circuit, keyed interlock and fire buttons.
They are manufactured to activate from four to thousands of effects, depending
on the unit and corresponding cost.
A transformer or rectifier is built into either the controller or the pod that holds the
article to
• reduce the voltage from 110 volts (V) to under 36 V
• rectify the alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) because AC current
can cause igniters and initiators to malfunction
Connection to the effects is accomplished by various lengths of cable and
connectors referred to as “XLR:”
• The cable connection is made with either three- or four-pin connectors:
–– Zip connectors (with alligator clips) are sometimes used to connect to the
leg wires of igniters or initiators.
• Some systems use interchangeable audio-type XLR cables, which can create
a hazard:
–– Label, mark or colour code the cables so that they are easily distinguished
from other wiring.
• When connections are made to the controller, the controller must shunt
(short circuit) the wiring or cables (see Section 5.12.1).
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
29
Notes
5.3 Wireless controllers
A wireless controller must be equipped with a keyed interlock and a second firing
mechanism (as required on conventional units).
Prohibited equipment includes
–– consumer frequency transmitter and receiver units (e.g. used to unlock car
doors and open garage doors)
–– infrared units
Note Exercise extreme caution if you are contemplating custom designing
or manufacturing this type of equipment or using existing products and
apparatus. Do not do so if you do not have sufficient skill or training.
5.4 Power sources
Consumer
• 110 volt AC transformed/rectified to under 36 V and DC current
Batteries
• Keep batteries encased and the terminals protected.
Generators, power or light poles
• If you are using these sources, equip the line with a breaker switch with a
rating that matches the supply.
Connections and care
• Keep the controller separate and secure from the firing circuit until it is
necessary to connect it (wire in).
• Never leave the controller unattended when it is connected to a power source.
• Keep the key in your possession.
5.5 Pre-show inspection
Inspect and test all electrical equipment before you bring it to the site. You are
responsible for making sure that your equipment is
• safe
• functional
• compatible
• of sufficient capacity for the effects
30
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
5.6 Preventing accidental firing
Notes
All controllers and firing boards must have at least a two-step, keyed interlock
to ensure against accidental firing. Firing must not be possible until the
pyrotechnician
• intentionally enables the firing system by means of the keyed interlock
• deliberately applies firing current
Notes • Keep the key on your person when you are not using it to enable the
controller for testing circuits and equipment or to fire.
• The keyed interlock requirement does not apply to hand-held or
body devices because they are kept secure in the performer’s or
pyrotechnician’s possession prior to the event. These devices, however,
are required to have a two-step ignition system.
5.7 Connecting to a power supply
Do not connect the controller to any power supply until
• it is necessary to power a circuit-testing instrument
• the use of pyrotechnics is cleared for actual firing
5.8 Preventing misfires caused by a lack of power
Misfires may occur if your controller is underpowered or (in rare cases) extremely
overpowered. To prevent misfires,
• Label the controller (and/or the power source) to indicate its rated capacity.
• Determine the requirements of the various igniters or initiators.
• Be aware of how the effects are wired (series, parallel, or series-parallel).
• Calculate how much firing current is necessary.
Note You can obtain the information necessary to determine adequate firing
current from the manufacturer, distributor or instruction sheets.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
31
Notes
5.9 Circuit testers
Test all circuits (igniters, initiators and the connected wiring or cables) for
continuity by using the tester normally built into the controller or a separate,
hand-held instrument. The separate unit may be an ohmmeter or a simple
continuity tester similar to the instrument contained within a typical controller.
Keep all personnel clear of the pyrotechnic devices when testing circuits. If a test
system is malfunctioning, there is always a danger that testing can cause igniters
and initiators to activate the articles or devices.
Remember Safe methods and equipment reduce risk, but provide
no guarantees.
5.10 Continuity testers
A continuity tester verifies that there is a complete circuit when the test light on
the controller or the separate test unit lights up. However, the test light will also
activate if
• The electric match (or initiator) is faulty (dead-short across the bridge wire).
• There is a short-circuit in the connecting wiring.
The “light” simply verifies that current is flowing through a circuit, which could
include a faulty electric match or damaged (shorted) wiring.
5.11 Blasting ohmmeter
A blasting ohmmeter tests for resistance within the circuit (e.g. electric match
and wiring) and indicates the resistance in ohms. It produces a sensing current of
approximately 0.025 amperes (A), much below what is needed to initiate electric
matches, squibs or detonators.
The approximate resistance of the circuit being tested can be calculated for the
number of electric matches (or initiators) in the circuit and length of attached
wiring or XLR cables. This calculated figure (the total resistance in ohms)
must match the resistance indicated when the circuit is tested with a blasting
ohmmeter. If it does not match, the circuit is faulty.
This test for resistance is a definitive determination of the integrity of the circuit.
Notes • Specifications on resistance (in ohms) for the igniters or initiators and the
attached wiring or XLR cables can be obtained from the manufacturers,
distributors or instruction sheets.
32
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
• Ordinary voltmeters and ohmmeters are not current-limited to under 0.025 A,
which is well below what is required to activate igniters or initiators.
Notes
5.12 Electrical circuit hazards
When firing electrically, extraneous electricity (other than that supplied by the
firing panel or blasting ohmmeter) can cause initiators and pyrotechnics to
activate inadvertently. Extraneous electricity includes static electricity or stray
currents (e.g. produced within the earth or by man-made devices), varying
electrical and magnetic fields (e.g. lightning strike or inductance), and radio
frequency (RF) energy.
5.12.1Wiring
Unshunted initiators may be accidentally fired by
• static electricity
• contact with other electrical power sources
For this reason, all wiring (including the leg or lead wires on electric matches and
other igniters and initiators) must be shunted or “short-circuited” at the source
(i.e. at the end closest to the controller, working back from the pyrotechnic article
or device).
A shunt comprises
• electric matches, other igniters and initiators or duplex wires with the bare
ends twisted together
• XLR cable with shorted or dead-end connectors
5.12.2Inductance
Inductance refers to the property of two neighbouring electric circuits
whereby the change in current in one conductor induces or creates a voltage
(electromotive force) in both the conductor and nearby conductors.
• Keep pyrotechnic cables separated and away from other cables that are
being used by different crews (e.g. lighting and audio), especially cables that
are coiled.
• Be aware that audio and lighting wires strung on or into metal scaffolding
and stages can also create inductance (or stray currents).
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
33
Notes
5.12.3 Radio frequency energy from mobile transmitters
Any transmitter (e.g. cellphone, two-way radio, pager, wireless microphone, radio,
TV, radar) can produce electromagnetic fields (RF) powerful enough to activate an
igniter or initiator such as electric matches, squibs, SPD, bullet hits or detonators.
• Do not carry any transmitter on your person when handling pyrotechnics and
related wiring.
• If at all possible, keep transmitters away from the site when igniters, initiators,
primed pyrotechnic special effects and associated wiring are being handled
or are in place.
• Post hazard signs or guards to bar transmitters from the site:
–– If it is not possible to ban common, low-wattage, high-frequency,
consumer transmitters (e.g. cellphones, two-way radios, pagers, wireless
microphones) from the venue or site, make sure that they are separated
from igniters, initiators and associated wiring by a distance of at least 4 m.
Note Certain two-way radios and other consumer transmitters require a distance
greater than 4 m, depending on their power and operating frequency.
• For recommended distances between initiators and any transmitters of
various power (watts) and frequencies, see the bulletin SLP 20: Safety Guide for
the Prevention of Radio Frequency Radiation Hazards in the Use of Commercial
Electric Detonators, Appendix 5, Table 3, issued by the Institute of the Makers
of Explosives.
Other hazards associated with cellphones and two-way radios include
• exposed battery-charging terminals, if they come into contact with the igniter,
initiator or associated wiring
• aerials that accidentally come into contact with the wiring, especially if the
aerial and/or wiring is frayed or damaged
5.12.4 Transient electrical currents
Transient electrical currents (stray currents) from diverse sources travelling
through working surfaces (e.g. steel stages, scaffolding and rigging) can also
cause articles and devices to fire unexpectedly. Keep the igniters, initiators and
associated wiring shunted.
• These currents are also a factor when working outdoors where
spurious electrical currents travelling through the ground can cause
premature ignition.
34
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
5.12.5 Electrical storms
Notes
If working outdoors at the approach of an electrical storm, cease operations and
return all pyrotechnic special effects not in place to their proper storage location.
Electrical strikes kilometres away can activate igniters and initiators whether the
wiring is shunted or not!
“If you hear it, flee from it.”
5.13 Mechanical circuit hazards
Proper wiring is essential for the safe firing of pyrotechnic devices. Safe practice
requires that you
• Mark all connections “Pyro” to preclude inadvertent hook-ups to lighting and
audio cables.
• Keep all wiring away from other cables.
• Be aware of inductance when working on steel scaffolding and stages.
• Keep all wiring out of reach of the public, performers and support personnel
(to prevent accidental disconnection or intentional sabotage).
• Position wiring as close as possible to ground level but away from moisture or
water sources.
• Make sure that all connections are tight and clean.
5.14 Final equipment check
Conduct a final pre-performance check on
• wiring positions
• hook-ups
• pyrotechnic articles and devices
• minimum distances
5.15 Extra precautions
Pyrotechnic firing systems vary widely in complexity and design. Study the
manufacturers’ instructions for each system and follow them.
Do not assume that all units constructed by the same manufacturer operate in the
same manner.
If possible, use only one manufacturer’s equipment (controller, wiring,
pyrotechnics) for each application. “Mixing and matching” of equipment, if
unavoidable, should be approached with extreme caution (test your equipment at
a safe location before the actual event).
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
35
Notes
5.16 Final site check
Special effects pyrotechnics should only be fired when
• There is a clear line of sight from the firing controller to the articles
and devices.
• All necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the articles and devices
will function properly, remain stationary and are clear of flammables.
• All people are on their marks and safely clear of the devices and fallout.
• Weather conditions are still favourable, and no other circumstance has
occurred that could increase the likelihood of harm to people or property.
• If black powder charges or det-cord are used,
–– Make certain that effects in the scene or shoot are being used in
conformity with adequate, observed safety distances.
–– Ensure that preliminary warning signals, if appropriate, have been sounded
(consult with the AHJ and/or other applicable agencies).
Note Safe functioning may be aided by
• using spotters, disablers, warning signals and/or a dedicated
communication system for the pyrotechnicians (and possibly
the performers)
• stage markings and warning lights for the performers and
pyrotechnicians
Remember The pyrotechnician is always responsible, and can be held liable, for
• any incident or accident that occurs as a result of the pyrotechnic
and/or explosive effect
• activities related to the use of pyrotechnics (e.g. mixing, loading,
positioning, wiring)
36
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 6. Special-purpose pyrotechnics
6.1General
Special-purpose pyrotechnics are used primarily in the film and television industry
to simulate real-life events such as violent explosions. The articles are typically
fabricated from any combination of authorized pyrotechnics or compositions,
black and smokeless powder, and/or detonating cord in conjunction with
flammable fuels (diesel, gasoline, propane, napalm, etc.), and/or gases and solids
(e.g. benzoic peroxide, coffee whitener, naphthalene). Depending on the materials
employed, the articles or devices can be activated by electric matches and
initiators up to soft-shell or commercial detonators.
Notes • If the flammable liquids, gases or solids are used alone, without any
pyrotechnic or high explosive material, the effect is considered to be a “flame
special effect.”
• Because special-purpose pyrotechnics are not authorized explosives, they
cannot be legally transported and must be made up on site.
6.2 Fabricating special-purpose pyrotechnics
To fabricate special-purpose pyrotechnics for the film and television industry, you
must
• use authorized pyrotechnic products
• be certified in the Special Effects Pyrotechnician class or directly supervised as
specified in this manual
• exercise due care at all times
• obtain accurate information on the probable behaviour of the fabricated
special-purpose pyrotechnics by
–– testing
–– experience
–– consulting with other pyrotechnicians and/or competent authorities
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
37
Notes
6.3 Fireball effects
Typical fireball effects are made up of
• an igniter or initiator
• black powder lifter charge (and possibly detonating cord using an
appropriate initiator)
• flammable liquid
• (in some cases) a fine particulate, flammable solid (e.g. coffee whitener,
benzoic peroxide)
Proven dangers include
• dispersion of the flammable powders into a dust cloud (where proper
combustion is not obtained), which sometimes causes detonation and
structural damage to the surroundings and large areas of broken windows
• power lines shorting to one another or arcing to the ground because of the
smoke and heat produced, sometimes resulting in downed power lines
Remember Take all possible precautions and keep personnel clear!
6.4 Detonating cord
6.4.1General description
• Detonating cord is a commercial high explosive primarily used in the mining,
quarrying and road construction industries to initiate other high explosives or
to connect a series of charges.
• It is a round, flexible cord with an outer braided textile wrap and inner
explosive composition of PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate) or RDX
(cyclotrymethylenetrintiramine).
• Cord diameters range from 3 to 15 mm, with core loads (quantity of PETN per
metre length of cord) ranging from 1 to 85 g/m, respectively.
6.4.2Properties
• very strong with an average tensile strength of over 100 kg and pliable at
exterior working temperatures
• high velocity of detonation (VOD) for all types of cord – 7000 m/s
(25 000 km/h). Compare this speed with that of black powder, which, when
confined, deflagrates at a maximum of 300 m/s.
38
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
• in packaged form, relatively stable and insensitive to normal shock and
friction
Notes
• water-resistant
• not susceptible to stray currents
6.4.3Characteristics
• Detonating cord can be initiated by commercial or soft detonators (highstrength squibs) that do not produce shrapnel.
• On initiation, an extremely loud report or “crack” is produced, typically much
louder than the main charge (if any), including commercial high explosives.
Keep this in mind when using det-cord in public areas:
–– Atmospheric conditions can also magnify the sound level and range
of travel.
• In a fire situation, a roll of detonating cord can cross over to detonation, while
strands of cord will typically burn if not confined.
6.4.4Uses
• Det-cord will destroy, shear, fracture, propel, make depressions or holes, and
vapourize various materials and liquids.
• With det-cord, you can create more “useful” enhanced or spectacular
effects. It can be combined with other pyrotechnic powders, materials
and various liquids for instant vapourization, dispersion, hotter fires and
guaranteed ignition.
6.4.5Selection
The choice of cord depends on
• surroundings
• activity
• energy required
The lightest cord will easily shatter any glass, while heavier core loadings will
instantly shear trees, cut off car doors and hoods, blow out tires, and create holes
in buildings and doors (rapid entry).
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
39
Notes
6.4.6Preparation
• Prepare the cord on a clean, smooth, non-sparking surface.
• Use only non-sparking tools.
• When cutting cord, use a straight knife:
–– Never employ scissor-type cutters, which create a shearing action (friction).
• Be aware that, over time, PETN can be deposited in the grooves carved into a
surface from the cutting operation.
• Always tape the ends of the cord after cutting so as to not lose composition.
• Clean up the preparation area as soon as you are finished.
• Be careful during cutting or fabrication not to dislodge the core composition.
Under normal conditions and handling, it is relatively insensitive in packaged
form. However, loose core composition can be initiated by friction or impact,
especially if it has been contaminated.
• If it is necessary to join pieces of cord, make a tight, conventional square knot,
then wrap it with tape:
–– You can connect separate lengths of cord running in different directions
with a taped clove hitch.
6.4.7Initiation
• If shrapnel is not a consideration, initiate with commercial detonators.
• Attach detonators to the cord according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
• It is recommended that double initiators be used with the detonators
pointing down the line – not toward the cut end.
• Avoid loops, sharp kinks or angles that direct the impulse of the cord back
toward the oncoming line of detonation.
6.4.8Peculiar hazards
• Do not mistake detonating cord for safety fuse or “tape fuse” (used to make
up a simple igniter, igniter cord, or detonator assembly), or shock tubing
(Nonel, Streeks).
• Do not use detonating cord as a fastener (as in the packaging of gifts) or as an
article of clothing (e.g. a “rope tie”).
40
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
6.5 Other requirements
Notes
• In some cases, municipal approval may be mandatory, in addition to the
event approval.
• Adequate fire protection, ambulance and contingency measures must be
in place.
• In some provinces/territories or municipalities, a separate “blaster’s ticket”
could also be required.
• It is the duty of the pyrotechnician to be aware of these and any
other prerequisites.
Note All high explosives and black powder are expressly forbidden for use
indoors before a live audience. These items are used primarily in the film
industry or for specialized outdoor live entertainment.
6.6 High explosives, including black powder
You must ensure that high explosive pyrotechnics are activated at safe distances
from vulnerable features such as
• performers, support personnel and the public
• buildings
• roads and highways
• transmission and telephone lines
• underground fuel tanks
• flammable storage tanks
• chemical tanks
• gas pipelines
Note Explosions may produce shrapnel, fragments, debris and shock waves.
Several factors affect the use of explosive charges in the film and television
industry, such as
• components
• construction and configuration
• application
• physical surroundings
• atmospheric conditions
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
41
Notes
6.7 Black powder lifters: Consult the EDU
If black powder lifters or explosive charges (detonating cord) – and possibly
associated flammables – are used in a scene or effect, it is recommended that
the AHJ require the pyrotechnician to have an EDU member or explosives
consultant present.
6.8 Explosive charges
There are no tables, formulas or computer programs that can precisely determine
the effects of an explosive charge on people or things. Data that exist apply
only to unconfined, spherical, open-air charges and are therefore of limited
relevance to the pyrotechnics industry and of small use to the AHJ in determining
safety distances.
There is, however, a relative system of danger zones from which separation
distances have been derived. These distances are to be regarded as
approximations and are for guidance only. However, they do provide a
baseline that, when combined with education and experience, may assist the
pyrotechnician in estimating safe distances from explosive charges.
For all the effects that you plan to fire, use the following three categories as a
starting point for developing special precautions and safe distances:
• Red Zone or Danger Zone: Prohibited access
• Shatter Zone: Window breakage
• Green Zone: General protection
6.9 Red Zone: Prohibited access
A Red Zone is an off-limits area or a closed location surrounding an explosive
device. Only pyrotechnicians are allowed in the Red Zone while the charge is
being prepared or placed. The pyrotechnician is required to
• Establish a Red Zone before the positioning of an explosive charge.
• Keep the Red Zone free of all people from the time the charge is placed until
the Special Effects Pyrotechnician gives the “all clear” after the shot.
The comparative rule-of-thumb formula for the perimeter or radius distance is
Distance (m) = 7 x quantity 1/3 (kg)
For example, a 0.5-kg charge would require a Red Zone radius or perimeter
distance of 6 m.
42
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
6.10 Shatter Zone: Window breakage
Notes
The Shatter Zone perimeter delineates the area in which the overpressure
produced (5 millibars or 150 decibels) is sufficient to break residential windows.
The comparative rule-of-thumb formula is
Distance (m) = 65 × quantity1/3 (kg)
For example, a 0.5-kg charge would require a safety distance of 50 m. This does
not take shrapnel or fragments into account.
6.11 Green Zone: General protection
For protection against shrapnel, fragments and/or projected material that can be
propelled much farther than the actual blast effect perimeter, the Green Zone is
a minimum suitable comparative distance or perimeter that must be maintained
between the explosion and unprotected personnel.
The comparative rule-of-thumb formula is
Distance (m) = 120 × quantity1/3 (kg)
Correspondingly, the minimum comparative distance to be maintained between
unprotected personnel and a 0.5-kg charge is 95 m.
6.12 Numbers for the Red, Shatter and Green zones
Remember three comparative numbers – 7, 65 and 120 – multiplied by the cube
root of the quantity, correspond to the Red (danger) Zone, the Shatter Zone, and
the Green (safe) Zone, respectively.
Note Because the formulas incorporate a cube root (mass of the charge), they
are not linear and cannot be divided or multiplied for different quantities
to obtain accurate minimum distances.
6.13 Distances from other vulnerable features
You can calculate the comparative distances for other vulnerable features
– vehicle windshields (uncoated), brick or concrete walls, and plaster walls – by
using the following formulas:
Shatter vehicle windshields: D (m) = 10 × Q1/3 (kg)
Crack concrete or brick walls: D (m) = 19 × Q1/3 (kg)
Crack plaster walls: D (m) = 34 × Q1/3 (kg)
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
43
Notes
Note All of the above rule-of-thumb formulas and figures are relative and are
not meant to be regarded as actual safety-distance determinations. The
actual distances applied and approved could be greater or less, depending
on the particular situation.
6.14Filming
The three main formulas (Red, Shatter and Green Zone) for determining
comparative safety distances indicate that you must
• film remotely
and/or
• take the following precautions (depending on the distance from the blast):
–– camera “hides” provided
–– Lexan™ sheets employed
–– ear and eye protection worn
–– fire blankets and other safety equipment provided
6.15 Explosives inside structures
If you use a special-purpose pyrotechnic (including black powder) inside a
structure, you must ensure that
• Gas mains are shut off and purged.
• Flammables are removed from the structure.
• Fire-fighting measures are in place and sprinkler systems (if available) are
operating and can be shut off.
• The appropriate agencies have been notified and, where necessary,
permission has been obtained.
• The minimum safe quantity of explosive material is used.
• You have taken adequate precautions against shrapnel and other hazardous
debris being blown from the building.
• Exits are – or can be – lit for the rapid evacuation of personnel in the event of
a mishap.
• Safety distances are adequate.
• An emergency contingency plan has been drawn up by the pyrotechnician
and instituted.
44
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
6.16 All show, no go: Use no more charge than the
job requires
Notes
The world of pyrotechnic special effects, especially in the film industry, is one
of illusion. Effects are supposed to simulate phenomena or events that occur in
“real life:” noise, light, fire, explosions, bombings, accidents, infernos and disasters.
However, “real life” often pales in comparison to some of the situations modern
pyrotechnicians are able to create. An actual vehicle bombing, with its small puff
of grey smoke, makes dull viewing compared with the spectacular fireball of a
staged car bomb.
The quality of an illusion, however, should not be regarded as proportionate to the
size of the effect. Larger pyrotechnic or explosive items increase the danger to the
public, employees and structures. The educated and safe pyrotechnic artist tries
to limit the use of energetic materials, employing the smallest possible charge for
the most effective result. In the words of a North Vancouver pyrotechnician, the
best pyrotechnic execution is
“All show, no go.”
(The largest visual effect incorporating the smallest explosive charge.)
6.17 Duds and misfires
• Before any support personnel enter the production area, make sure that all
pyrotechnic articles or explosives have functioned.
• If you know of or find duds or misfires, before approaching, wait at least
–– 10 minutes (min) for effects initiated directly by an igniter or initiator with
no fuse or other pyrotechnic transfer or delay in the ignition train
–– 30 min for all fused or fuse-delayed articles and devices
• Precautions must be taken to minimize the likelihood of harm to people and
property from misfired pyrotechnics.
• Return the articles or devices to a separate storage magazine for future
disposal. (See Chapter 8)
–– This will not always apply to the film industry, which often uses specialpurpose pyrotechnics that cannot be returned to storage or even moved;
they must be employed in place.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
45
Notes
6.18Firefighters
The use of film special effects sometimes require firefighters to be present. In such
cases, before firefighters are permitted to approach the area, the Special Effects
Pyrotechnician must determine whether all charges have functioned and that the
location and surroundings are safe.
6.19 High explosives
Contact the ERD (erd.nrcan.gc.ca) for specific requirements related to the
purchase and storage requirements of detonating cord and associated articles
(detonators, cable cutters and exploding bolts).
46
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 7. Post-event procedures
7.1 Disabling the devices
Immediately after each performance, pyrotechnicians must
• Disarm the controller.
• Keep the key in their possession.
• Ensure that the area or location where pyrotechnics were deployed is safe.
7.2 Duds and misfires
• Before any support personnel enter the production area, make sure that all
pyrotechnic articles or explosives have functioned.
• If you know of or find duds or misfires, before approaching, wait at least
–– 10 min for effects initiated directly by an igniter or initiator with no fuse or
other pyrotechnic transfer or delay in the ignition train
–– 30 min if the firing was initiated by other means
Note Manufacturers may require longer wait times.
• Pyrotechnics that are damaged, leaking, damp or contaminated must not
be used. Return the articles or devices to a separate storage magazine for
future disposal or dispose of them according to the procedures described in
Chapter 8.
7.3 Giving the “all clear”
After the crew has removed all pyrotechnic or explosive devices and equipment,
the pyrotechnician is responsible for
• making sure that the area is completely clear
• notifying all others that the area is clear and safe
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
47
Notes
7.4 Unused pyrotechnics
All unused pyrotechnic or explosive devices and materials must be
• prepared for immediate transportation to the next destination
• stored promptly according to the instructions given in this manual (see
Chapter 8) if
–– additional performances are scheduled to follow at the same location
–– transportation is scheduled for a later date
7.5 When to file an accident or incident report
In the event of an accident, incident, theft or dangerous or unusual occurrence
that has (or may have) caused personal injury or unforeseen property
damage, you must notify the ERD and file a written incident report as soon as
circumstances permit.
An incident report form (Form F07-01) is available on the ERD Web site.
The ERD, in co-operation with the appropriate authority, may conduct an
investigation of any pyrotechnics accident that resulted in bodily injury or major
property damage.
Other agencies such as the AHJ and provincial/territorial occupational health and
safety organizations may also require written notification. It is your responsibility
to know which requirements apply.
7.6 What the accident or incident report must contain
Your report must include the following information:
• location, performance, date and time
• pyrotechnic effects involved
• description of the incident
• nature of injuries or damage
• immediate action taken
• action taken to keep the incident from happening again
• other agencies notified
• contact numbers for company officials, the pyrotechnician and assistants, as
applicable
• a copy of the event approval form
48
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 8. Disposal
8.1 Disposal of articles
You must safely dispose of (never simply discard) all:
• misfires
• unignited compositions
• damaged articles or devices and contaminated powders
• time-expired pyrotechnics
If you are planning to dispose of any pyrotechnics you must obtain a
manufacturing certificate or licence from the ERD.
8.2 Recommended procedures
Because of the wide variety of pyrotechnics, we strongly recommend that you
• Consult the vendor on the safe destruction of all products.
• Return waste materials by road transport to the vendor for destruction (if they
are safe and suitable for transportation).
Note In some locations, the local EDU will dispose of pyrotechnic and explosive
articles, but this is dependent on the jurisdiction.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
49
Notes
50
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Chapter 9. Transportation
9.1Authorities
The road transportation of explosives, including all pyrotechnics and commercial
high explosives, is regulated primarily by the Transportation of Dangerous
Goods Directorate (TDG) of Transport Canada and partially by the ERD of Natural
Resources Canada (NRCan).
9.2 Classification of explosives
The TDG derives its requirements from a classification system based on the
type, potential hazard, and compatibility of pyrotechnic and high explosive
materials. The following outlines the TDG classification system for road transport
and has been prepared as a reference but has no legal force or effect (for a
legal interpretation, consult the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and the
Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations). This classification system does not
apply to the storage of pyrotechnics or high explosives (for more information on
these topics, see Chapter 2 or consult the ERD).
9.3 Classes of dangerous goods
Class 1 – Explosives
Class 2 – Gases, compressed
Class 3 – Liquids, flammable
Class 4 – Solids, flammable
Class 5 – Oxidizing substances
Class 6 – Poisons
Class 7 – Radioactive substances
Class 8 – Corrosives
Class 9 – Miscellaneous
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
51
Notes
9.4 Hazard divisions of Class 1
1.1 – Mass explosion hazard
1.2 – Projection hazard
1.3 – Fire hazard with possible minor blast or projection hazard
1.4 – No significant hazard beyond the package
1.5 – Mass explosion hazard, but much less sensitive to initiation than Division 1.1
1.6 – Extremely insensitive article with no mass explosion hazard
9.5 Compatibility groups
Compatibility groups refer to materials that can be transported together in the
same vehicle without significantly increasing the risk of accident, ignition or
magnitude of injury or damage to people or surroundings. The groups are listed
as follows:
A – Primary explosive substances (most sensitive)
B – Detonators: articles containing a primary substance
C – Propellant explosives (including smokeless powder)
D – Secondary detonating explosives (including black powder, detonating cord)
E – Explosive substances with a propelling charge
F – Explosive substance with a propelling charge and initiator
G – Pyrotechnic articles
H – Explosive substance with white phosphorous
J – Explosive substance with flammable liquid or gel
K – Explosive substance with a toxic chemical agent
L – Explosive substance or article presenting a special risk
N – Articles containing only extremely insensitive detonating substances
S – Safety explosives (one article will not initiate another and the effect is localized
to the packaging)
52
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
9.6 Classification of special effect pyrotechnics
Notes
Most pyrotechnics and high explosives used in the entertainment industry are
classified for transportation in approved packaging as follows:
• 1.1B (e.g. high explosive detonators, high-strength squibs)
• 1.1D (e.g. black powder, detonating cord, stick powder)
• 1.3C (e.g. smokeless powder)
• 1.3G (e.g. flash powder, smoke composition, mixed two-component powder)
• 1.4G (e.g. smoke pots, mines, gerbs, pyrotechnic cartridges)
• 1.4S (e.g. bullet hits, electric matches, squibs, blank cartridges or articles with improved packaging)
Note Classification can change to a more hazardous division and compatibility
group if products are removed from their authorized packaging or the
packaging is altered.
9.7 Other TDG requirements
The TDG also regulates the following for road transport:
• training requirements for anyone handling, offering for sale or transporting
dangerous goods
• labeling of packaging and vehicle placarding
• documentation
• quantity limits and other requirements under which articles may or may not
be transported (see Schedule 1 of the TDG Regulations)
9.8 Special provision 76
Despite Section 5.7 (reprinted in this section) of Part 5, Means of Containment
(TDG Regulations), any combination of the dangerous goods shown below (by
UN number) that are included in Class 1, Explosives, may be handled, offered for
transport or transported in a road vehicle if
• The total quantity of all the dangerous goods included in Class 1, expressed in
net explosives quantity, is less than or equal to 5 kg.
• The total number of articles of dangerous goods subject to
special provision 86 is less than or equal to 100 articles.
• The operator of the road vehicle has a valid pyrotechnic card issued to the
operator by the ERD of NRCan.
UN0027, UN0066, UN0094, UN0101, UN0105, UN0161, UN0197, UN0255, UN0305,
UN0325, UN0335, UN0336, UN0337, UN0349, UN0430, UN0431, UN0432, UN0454,
UN0499
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
53
Notes
5.7 Compatibility Groups
(1) A person must not load or transport with other explosives in the same means
of transport, except for a ship, explosives that have a compatibility group letter
listed in column 1 of a row in the following table unless the compatibility group
letter of the other explosives is listed in column 2 of the same row:
Table – SOR/2008-34
Column 1
Column 2
A
A
B
B,S
C
C, D, E, N, S
D
C, D, E, N, S
E
C, D, E, N, S
F
F, S
G
G, S
H
H, S
J
J, S
K
K, S
L
L
N
C, D, E, N, S
S
B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, N, S
9.9 Consult the TDG for further details
The full requirements surrounding the transport of explosives are too extensive
and specialized to set out in this manual. The ERD recommends that you consult
your local TDG inspector for particulars.
9.10 ERD vehicle requirements
The following is a summary of the ERD vehicle requirements for transportation.
Consult the ERD for detailed requirements related to your specific situation:
• You must be at least 18 years old to drive a vehicle carrying explosives.
• Never smoke in or near the vehicle.
• Only crew members may accompany the vehicle.
• The vehicle must be mechanically sound and
–– able to pass a safety check
–– inspected for defects before each trip
–– fully serviced before loading
54
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
• Carry a serviceable 4A - 40 B:C fire extinguisher, and make sure you can reach
it quickly.
Notes
• Keep special effects products in approved carrying containers as applicable.
Other articles must be securely stored to safeguard the special effects.
• Dangerous goods such as inflammables should not be transported in the
same vehicle.
• High explosives:
–– Secure and store the explosives separately (keep detonators and high
strength squibs apart from detonating cord).
–– Avoid transporting pyrotechnics and other dangerous goods
(e.g. flammables and compressed gases) in the same vehicle.
Note You may sometimes be able to arrange for direct delivery and pick-up of
pyrotechnics through your vendor.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
55
Notes
56
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Appendix 1. Explosives Regulatory Division
of Natural Resources Canada
Notes
1.1 Explosives: Legally speaking
The Explosives Act (the Act) defines explosives as “anything that is made,
manufactured, or used to produce an explosion or a detonation or pyrotechnic
effect and includes anything prescribed to be an explosive by the regulations…”
1.2 General jurisdiction
The ERD of NRCan was created in 1920. The ERD’s mandate comes from the federal
Explosives Act. The Act regulates aspects related to explosives in Canada, including
• authorization
• importation
• exportation
• manufacture
• sale
• storage
• transportation
• use of fireworks (including pyrotechnic special effects)
1.3 Range of responsibility
The ERD is responsible for a broad range of articles, including
• sparklers
• toy pistol caps
• fireworks
• smokeless powders
• ammunition
• commercial high explosives
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
57
Notes
1.4 Use of explosives
The commercial use of explosives is, in most cases, a matter of provincial/territorial
jurisdiction. However, the ERD is responsible for regulating the use of all types of
fireworks, which includes special effect pyrotechnics.
1.5Locations
ERD headquarters are located in Ottawa. The four regional offices are located in
Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
1.6 Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory
The Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (CanmetCERL), located just west of
Ottawa, can test all fireworks, pyrotechnics, high explosive articles, devices and
compositions contained in legally manufactured or imported effects, along with
the articles or products themselves, primarily for authorization purposes. The
CanmetCERL and the ERD are integral parts of the Explosives Safety and Security
Branch of NRCan.
1.7 Authorized effects
In general, only pyrotechnic effects authorized under the Act and Regulations
may be
• imported
• manufactured
• sold
• purchased
• owned
• kept and stored
• used
1.8 Unauthorized effects
You cannot lawfully manufacture, store or possess unauthorized articles. Whether
such articles are permitted in other countries is immaterial. Unauthorized articles
include trick fireworks and firecrackers such as
58
• snap caps
• cherry bombs
• champagne party poppers
• M-80 salutes
• cigarette loads
• flash crackers
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Note You can find out which pyrotechnic effects are authorized by consulting
the List of Authorized Explosives available on the ERD Web site.
Notes
1.9 Licences, permits and certificates for all types
of explosives
If you want to
You need
import any explosives, including
fireworks and pyrotechnics
importation permit
(annual or single use)
manufacture or dispose of
any explosive
factory licence or certificate
purchase, store or function
pyrotechnics and display fireworks
fireworks operator certificate
fire high explosives
“blaster’s ticket” provided by most
provinces/territories
To determine the licences required to sell or store high explosives, pyrotechnics,
display fireworks, smokeless and black powder, or consumer fireworks, see the
Explosive Regulations, 2013.
1.10 Age limit
Except for toy pistol caps and model rocket engines, fireworks cannot be sold to
anyone under the age of 18.
1.11 Police powers
Responsibility for the administration of the Act and Regulations rests with the ERD
of NRCan. Inspection and compliance responsibilities rest with the ERD inspector
along with deputy inspectors appointed by the Governor in Council. Deputy
inspectors include members of police forces and mining and health and safety
inspectors. Note that inspectors and deputy inspectors may, without a warrant,
exercise their powers of search and seizure pursuant to the Act and may also lay
charges for violations of the Act or Regulations.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
59
Notes
60
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Appendix 2. Background and characteristics
of pyrotechnics
Notes
2.1 Word and action
The word “pyrotechnics” comes from two Greek words − pyro (fire) and technic (art)
− and is often associated with fireworks. Technically, pyrotechnics is the science
of materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic
chemical reactions. Typically, these materials are solids and are used for the
production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound.
2.2Background
Pyrotechnic effects are the earliest types of explosives known to man. The use of
chemicals to produce heat, light, gas, smoke or noise originated several thousand
years ago, probably in China or India.
“Greek fire,” the best known ancient firework, was reported to have been used
during the Arab naval siege of Constantinople in AD 673. It contained a blend of
sulphur, organic fuels, and saltpetre (potassium nitrate) that generated flames and
dense smoke when ignited.
Around the 10th century, adventurous people discovered that, with the help of
fire, an intimate mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur could produce
a very impressive effect. In 1627, Kaspar Weindl fired the first commercial blast
of “black powder” at the Royal Mines in Hungary, thus introducing the first highenergy composition.
2.3 Pyrotechnic compositions
Pyrotechnics are made up of compositions that burn energetically and, if confined,
may explode or detonate. They are classed as low explosives, in contrast to the
much more powerful high explosives such as dynamites. Pyrotechnics burn or
deflagrate; high explosives detonate.
Pyrotechnic compositions contain all the oxygen necessary for a chemical reaction
(and are therefore very difficult to extinguish in a firefighting situation). Principal
reactants are nitrates, chlorates or perchlorates, along with a combustible material.
The nature of the composition and the state of the ingredients, such as particle
size, determine the reaction rate, the appearance of the flame, smoke or other
pyrotechnic effect, and the noise and flash of the explosion.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
61
Notes
Black powder (gun powder) is a versatile mixture. It is used in various granulations
as a propelling charge, a source of noise, a constituent of other compositions, or
as part of ignition fuses and timing systems. Black powder should not be confused
with smokeless powder (propellant powder), which is a modern mixture that came
into use in the late 1800s after the discovery of nitrocellulose. Smokeless powder
generates high pressures if confined, as in small-arms ammunition.
Other compositions produce coloured flames, twinkles and smokes, and may
be either loose or compacted. When compacted (pressed into cubes and pellets
or rolled into spheres), these compositions are called stars and burn over their
exposed surfaces to produce a brilliant ball of fire. Other formulations that
contain powdered aluminum or magnesium react violently, causing explosions
accompanied by a flash and are known as flash or concussion powders.
All pyrotechnic compositions are energetic materials. They are therefore
DANGEROUS. In general, pyrotechnic compositions are sensitive to flame, spark,
friction, impact and heat. All are averse to water in any form, and most are
rendered completely inert by it.
Note Water may cause spontaneous reactions in a few compositions
(e.g. magnesium powders).
2.4 Finished products
In contrast, finished products are much less dangerous – unless the case is
ruptured and the composition leaks out. Pyrotechnic casings are made of rolled
paper, plastics or aluminum. Do not tamper with manufactured articles.
2.5 Pyrotechnics versus consumer and display fireworks
Authorized pyrotechnic special effects are not the same as consumer or display
fireworks, which cannot be used indoors or in close proximity to personnel and
the public. The main difference is that authorized pyrotechnics must function the
same way every time with respect to
• height
• fallout radius
• noise and light level
• concussion
• manner of firing (fast, slow, continuous, intermittent)
• quantity of smoke produced
62
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Appendix 3. Basic chemistry of pyrotechnics
3.1Constituents
A pyrotechnic mixture contains
• an oxygen donor (oxidizer)
• one or more fuels that burn with the released oxygen when the oxidizer is
heated
• other chemicals that serve as binders and create colour, spark or other visual
or audible effects
3.2 The reaction
• The heat generated by the reaction between the oxidizer and the fuel causes
the other effects to occur.
• All compositions contain their own source of oxygen – air is not necessary
for combustion.
3.3 Pyrotechnics versus high explosives
• In general, pyrotechnics deflagrate at a velocity of less than 300 m/s.
• High explosives, in contrast, detonate at velocities from 2000 to 7000 m/s.
• Compare these velocities with the following examples:
–– light: 300 million m/s
–– expansion of a nuclear fission bomb: 1 million m/s
–– 30-06 rifle cartridge: 825 m/s
–– sound: 342 m/s
–– commercial aircraft: 135 m/s
–– slap shot, baseball pitch: 40 m/s
–– vehicles on the Trans-Canada Highway: 30 m/s
–– walking: 2 m/s
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
63
Notes
3.4 Pyrotechnics: Science and art
While the chemistry of pyrotechnics is a science, the development and
manufacture of effects is an art.
OXYGEN + FUEL = HEAT + reaction products (solid, liquid or gas)
HEAT = Light, colour, sparks, whistle, rapport, smoke and propulsion
3.5Ignition
Ignition occurs when sufficient external energy interacts with the pyrotechnic
composition. This energy can be in the form of flame, sparks, high temperature
(hot wire), impact or friction.
Typical means of igniting pyrotechnic devices include
• flame or spark (fuse)
• electric current, producing heat or a flash (electric match)
• impact (percussion primer)
• friction (safety match)
3.6Propagation
Propagation of the reaction occurs when the heat generated by the initial ignition
continues in the composition itself (an exothermic reaction).
• energy input to pyrotechnic mixture = broken chemical bonds
• new chemical bonds form = energy is released
• released energy is
–– lost to the surroundings
–– transferred to the composition in sufficient quantity to yield a
self‑propagating reaction
3.7Requirements
Pyrotechnic devices must
• produce the desired effect
• be safe to manufacture
• be chemically stable (in transportation, storage and use)
• have low hygroscopicity (tendency to absorb moisture from the air)
• have low toxicity
• have a moderate production cost
64
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
3.8 Basic pyrotechnic principles
Notes
Several key factors affect the performance of pyrotechnic compositions. Even if
two identical formulas are used to manufacture a pyrotechnic mixture, the effects
produced can be quite varied. The reasons for this include
Water or moisture
• One of the oldest sayings in the field of pyrotechnics is “keep your powder
dry.” Water absorbs heat when it vapourizes. Powder that has a high moisture
content can be difficult to ignite and may produce a dangerous dud. Water
can sensitize certain compositions, such as magnesium powder.
Extent of mixing
• A poorly mixed blend of oxidizer and fuel may burn quite slowly (if at all),
while the same mixture blended to a high degree of homogeneity will tend to
be quite reactive when ignited.
Particle size
• Pyrotechnic mixtures made from oxidizers and fuels of small particle
size (high surface area) will tend to be considerably more reactive than
compositions made from coarser chemicals, even if the same percentages
and mixing methods are used.
Confinement (through packaging or pyrotechnic mass)
• Unlike high explosives, pyrotechnic mixtures show a sharp increase in burn
rate when they are confined and ignited. Also, the burn rate of a mixture
tends to increase as the surface area of the burning material increases.
On ignition, gases and heat are produced. If the gases are held long enough
in the vicinity of the burning front, the heat will act on the gases and, if the
gases cannot escape, the pressure increases. The increased pressure elevates
the reaction rate and establishes a vicious circle, whether it is in a paper
tube, steel pipe or a quantity of pyrotechnic composition approaching the
critical mass.
3.9 Common pyrotechnic ingredients
Oxidizers
• ammonium perchlorate, barium nitrate, potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate,
potassium perchlorate, and strontium nitrate
Fuels
• elemental: boron, carbon, phosphorus, silicon and sulphur
• organic compounds: natural gums, plastics, polymers and starch
• metals: aluminum, magnalium, magnesium and titanium
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
65
Notes
3.10 Noise effects
Report or noise effects and concussion powders
• typically contain potassium perchlorate or nitrate oxidizers, and aluminum
Whistle effects
• usually made of potassium perchlorate, sodium salicylate or sodium benzoate
3.11 Coloured flames and sparks
The show-related applications of pyrotechnic mixtures are infinite, but usually
involve the production of coloured flames or sparks. The common colour and
spark-producing chemical groups for fireworks-type reactions are listed in the
following table
66
Colour
Chemical group
Red
Strontium salts
Green
Barium salts
Yellow
Sodium salts
Blue
Copper salts
White
Antimony salts or aluminum powder
Amber sparks
Charcoal or iron particles
Gold sparks
Iron or iron titanium alloy
Silver sparks
Titanium, aluminum or magnesium
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Appendix 4. Fireworks categories
4.1 Consumer fireworks (F.1)
Outdoor, low-hazard recreational fireworks such as showers, fountains, golden
rain, Roman candles, volcanoes, sparklers, and caps for toy guns
4.2 Display fireworks (F.2)
Outdoor, high-hazard recreational fireworks such as display shells, bombshells,
large wheels, barrages, bombardos, waterfalls and mines
4.3 Pyrotechnic special effects (F.3)
These effects are created through the firing of pyrotechnic, propellant and
explosive materials and devices, and are used by the entertainment industry for
indoor and outdoor performances. Examples include bullet effects, flash powders,
smoke compositions, gerbs, lances and saxons.
4.4 Fireworks accessories (F.4)
For practical reasons, this manual also regards black and smokeless powder, as
well as special-purpose pyrotechnics, as part of this category. Special-purpose
pyrotechnics are pyrotechnics and compositions, black or smokeless powder,
and/or commercial high explosives used in conjunction with flammable liquids
(diesel, gasoline, propane, napalm, etc.) and gases and solids to produce a one-ofa-kind pyrotechnic effect.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
67
Notes
68
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Appendix 5. Minimum separation distances
for personal communications
devices
Notes
The minimum distances that must separate pyrotechnics from mobile transmitters
and cellphones, including amateur and citizen’s bands, are listed in Table 1. These
distances are excerpted from the bulletin SLP 20: Safety Guide for the Prevention
of Radio Frequency Radiation Hazards in the Use of Commercial Electric Detonators,
which is published by the Institute of Makers of Explosives.
Table 1. Minimum separation distances for personal communications devices
Minimum separation distances
(in metres, rounded off after conversion from feet)
Transmitter
power
(watts)
MF
HF
VHF
VHF
UHF
1.9–3.4 MHz
fixed, mobile,
marine
28.0–29.7 MHz
amateur
35–36 and
42–44 MHz
public use,
50–54 MHz
amateur
35.0–36.0 MHz
amateur,
150.8–161.6 MHz
public use
450–470 MHz
public use,
cellphones
above 800 MHz
Distance (metres)
5
10
22
19
7
4
10
50
100
180
200
250
500
600
1 000
1 500
10 000
13
27
37
52
55
61
86
92
122
150
379
31
71
98
132
141
153
217
238
308
371
986
25
55
80
107
113
125
177
196
250
308
793
10
22
31
40
43
49
68
74
95
116
302
7
13
19
25
26
28
37
43
55
68
171
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
69
Notes
70
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Notes
Glossary Note Italicized words appear as separate entries in this glossary.
4A - 40 B:C
The numbers refer to the size rating of the fire extinguisher; the letters A:B:C
refer to solids, liquids and electrical fires, respectively.
ad hoc
Situation considered on an individual and particular basis.
airburst
An effect suspended in the air to simulate outdoor aerial fireworks shells
without producing potentially hazardous debris. The typical composition is a
type of flash powder.
all-fire current
The minimum electrical current that must be applied to an igniter or initiator to
produce 100 percent ignitions.
ampere
A unit of electrical current produced by 1volt acting through a resistance of
1 ohm.
atmosphere
A unit of pressure equal to 101 325 newtons per square metre (14.5 psi).
authority having jurisdiction (AHJ)
The agency responsible in any area for granting approvals related to
pyrotechnic special effects. The most common AHJ is the fire department but
other agencies in various provinces/territories, cities or municipalities also
serve as the AHJ (e.g. the Ministry of Labour, occupational health and safety
organizations, Workers Compensation Board, Transport Canada Air, Coast Guard,
a film commissioner and the EDU). It is the responsibility of the pyrotechnician
to be aware of the AHJ(s) for the area in which the performance is to take place.
authorized (explosive, pyrotechnic)
Means any explosive or pyrotechnic that is declared to be authorized in
accordance with the Explosive Regulations. Authorized pyrotechnics will appear
as Class F.3 on the List of Authorized Explosives. The articles that are authorized
for use by the Pyrotechnician will be designated with the letter “P” on the List of
Authorized Explosives.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
71
Notes
bar
A metric unit of pressure equal to 1 million dynes per square centimetre;
1 standard atmosphere or 14.5 psi.
binary material
See two-component
black match
A fuse consisting of cotton string impregnated with black powder; a normal
burning rate is 2.5 cm/s.
black powder (gunpowder)
An intimate, ground mixture of finely powdered potassium nitrate (75 percent),
charcoal (15 percent) and sulphur (10 percent). Black powder may be granular
or finely ground that has unconfined velocities measured in metres per second
to confined velocities of 170 to 300 m/s, depending on particle size and
confinement. It has a wide variety of uses such as in black powder lifters. Do
not mistake or substitute smokeless powder (as used in flame projectors and
ammunition) for black powder.
black powder lifters
A soft (taped) or hard-wrapped (taped cardboard container) black powder
charge with an igniter, usually fired in a mortar and used to simulate an
explosion. Extra wrapping or confinement of various types will add to the
subsequent explosive effect. No metals or rigid materials should be used
to wrap or encase black powder (do not confine black powder in mortars or
other firing devices). Volatile liquids and solids can be introduced for the
desired effect.
blank cartridge
Bullet case and percussion primer filled with various types of smokeless powder
or other propellants, but does not have a slug or projectile. The sale, possession
and use of guns and ammunition is regulated under Part III of the Criminal Code
of Canada (Firearms and Other Weapons).
blasting ohmmeter
A testing instrument used to establish the continuity and approximate resistance
of electric firing circuits. It produces a sensing current of approximately 0.025 A,
much below that needed to initiate electric matches, squibs or detonators.
blasting explosives
See high explosives.
bridge wire
A fine wire contained in an electric match, or squib, that either heats up or
ignites when an electric current is applied.
72
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
bullet hit
A device used to produce a bullet effect. A small explosive charge is attached to
a person’s body (where it is often accompanied by a blood bag) or surroundings
to simulate the impact of a fired round.
Notes
capacitive discharge firing unit
An instrument used to fire initiators by discharging the large amount of energy
stored in its capacitors.
cable cutter
An explosive device, initiated by a detonator, used to cut support cables or bars
instantly and cleanly.
capsule gun
A 68-calibre “gun” that uses compressed gas to propel a plastic capsule
containing zirconium and abrasive material. On impact, it produces an effect to
simulate gunfire, sparks, etc.
chemical reaction
A process in which one substance is changed into others. In a chemical reaction,
existing chemical bonds are broken and new ones are formed. An input of
energy is required to break the bonds; energy is released when new bonds form.
chemical sensitivity
A qualitative measure of a material’s chemical stability and tendency to
undergo undesirable reactions when subjected to a defined stimulus, most
notably under conditions of high temperature or moisture.
choke
A plug (often formed from clay) with a centre hole that restricts the release of
the gases produced by the burning of the propellant, causing the effect to be
thrust to greater heights.
comet
Pyrotechnic material that produces a stream of sparks or fire (long-tailed effect)
as the pressed or solid composition is projected to elevation.
concussion mortar
A heavily designed and constructed device used to produce a loud noise and
jarring effect. A type of flash powder is typically used in a concussion mortar.
concussion powder
A type of flash powder used in a concussion mortar to produce a loud,
concussion effect.
consumer fireworks
“Low-hazard” recreational fireworks such as fountains, Roman candles, small
cakes and barrages, sparklers, and caps for toy guns (Class F.1).
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
73
Notes
continuity
An unbroken or low-resistance flow of electrical current.
critical mass
The minimum amount of energetic material that, when ignited, can cause an
explosion, as compared with steady ignition.
cross over to detonation (transit)
In general, high explosives – and pyrotechnic compositions – will only burn if
exposed to fire. However, if they are confined and the pressure and temperature
rise, they can detonate.
current
The flow or rate of flow of electric charge in a circuit, expressed in amperes.
dangerous occurrence (unusual)
An accident or near miss caused by pyrotechnic or explosives use; also means an
unexpected result or problem concerning pyrotechnic or explosive materials.
deflagration
An exothermic reaction in which the reaction front advances at subsonic speed
(<350 m/s).
detonating cord
A flexible cord containing a powerful high explosive (PETN) with the
explosive load expressed in grams per metre. Velocity of detonation (VOD) is
approximately 7000 m/s (25 000 km/h).
detonation
An exothermic reaction in which the reaction front advances at above
supersonic speed (>350 m/s) in the unreacted material. Typically, the reaction
front in high explosives travels at more than 2000 m/s. A detonation, when the
material is located on or near the surface of the ground, usually forms a crater.
detonator (blasting cap)
A thin metal tube containing a very sensitive primary high explosive used for
initiating the detonation of other high explosives.
display fireworks
“High-hazard” recreational fireworks such as aerial shells, large roman candles
and cakes typically used at community celebrations (Class F.2).
duty of care
Everyone who has an explosive substance in his/her possession or under his/
her care or control is under a legal duty to use reasonable care to prevent bodily
harm or death to persons or damage to property by that explosive substance.
(Section 79, Criminal Code of Canada.)
74
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
dwelling (dwelling-house)
“Dwelling-house” means the whole or any part of a building or structure that is
kept or occupied as a permanent or temporary residence, and includes a
Notes
• building within the curtilage of a dwelling-house that is connected to it by
a doorway or by a covered and enclosed passage-way
• a unit that is designed to be mobile and to be used as a permanent or
temporary residence and that is being used as such a residence. (Section 2,
Criminal Code of Canada.)
dyne
The amount of force that imparts an acceleration of one centimetre per second
per second to a mass of one gram.
electric match (e-match, igniter)
A device used to cause the ignition of pyrotechnic materials. It consists of two
wires terminating at a bridge wire coated or surrounded with a small quantity
of heat-sensitive pyrotechnic composition. When sufficient current is passed
through the wire, the heat generated ignites the composition, producing a
small burst of flame or sparks. Handle electric matches as you would any other
explosives. They are sensitive to impact, friction and heat. Do not confuse electric
matches with squibs or detonators, which are manufactured for purposes other
than simple initiation by flame.
endothermic reaction
A chemical change in which there is an absorption of heat.
ERD
Explosives Regulatory Division
exothermic reaction
A chemical change in which heat is released.
exploding bolts
Fastening devices that can be internally destroyed, releasing the secured object.
explosive
Anything that is made, manufactured or used to produce an explosion or a
detonation or pyrotechnics effect, including anything prescribed to be an
explosive by the Regulations, but does not include gases, organic peroxides or
anything prescribed not to be an explosive by the Regulations.
extraneous electricity
Current that can cause the accidental initiation of igniters and initiators such as
static electricity; transient currents (stray currents) produced within the earth or
by man-made devices; varying electrical and magnetic fields such as lightning
strike or inductance; and radio frequency (RF) energy.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
75
Notes
firing current
The current, expressed in amperes, used to ignite or activate an electric match,
squib, bullet hit or detonator.
fixed production
A production repeatedly performed in the same manner in only one location,
typically a theatre setting.
fire retardant
Chemicals applied to a material to increase resistance to ignition or burning.
flame projector
A tube used to produce a vertical column of fire that lasts several seconds.
The composition is smokeless powder and may contain colouring agents.
flare
An article designed to produce intense light (usually coloured) for a
defined period.
flash cotton
Similar to flash paper but has a faster burning rate.
flash pack
Soft black powder charge used with flammable liquids to disperse and
guarantee ignition.
flash paper
A composition made of nitrocellulose. The nitrated materials are very easily
ignited and burn without solid by-products. They can be used to produce a
flash or as a component in other effects.
flash pot
A device containing flash powder, intended to produce a flash of light and/
or sparkles.
flash powder
Sensitive composition that produces a flash of light when ignited. Unlike
concussion powder, flash powder does not produce a report. Various types are
manufactured, including regular, low smoke, fast and slow sparkle, and flitter
flash powder.
flash string
See flash paper.
FOC
Fireworks operator certificate
fuel
Anything that can burn or act as a chemical reducing agent.
76
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
gerb
An article consisting of a short, heavily walled tube filled with pressed
composition. It is usually equipped with a choke or restricted orifice intended
to produce a controlled jet or broad spray of sparks. It may also contain colourproducing materials. From the French gerbe: a sheaf of wheat; spray or column
of water.
Notes
glitter effect
An effect that produces glowing droplets that terminate in bright yellow or
white flashes.
grain
Small measure of mass (weight) in the British system.
7000 grains = 1 pound; 437.5 grains = 1 ounce; 15.43 grains = 1 gram.
gram
Measure of mass (weight) in the metric system.
1 gram = 15.43 grains = 0.03527 ounce = 0.0022 pounds.
Green Zone
Safe area beyond the minimum distance that unprotected people must
keep between themselves and an open, unconfined high explosive or black
powder charge.
grid rockets
See line rockets.
hangfire
A fuse or pyrotechnic composition that suddenly starts burning more slowly
than it is supposed to; just as suddenly, it may resume burning at its normal rate.
This unpredictability can be dangerous.
hazardous debris
Any potentially injurious material produced by the firing of an explosive or
pyrotechnic device.
high explosives (blasting)
General term referring to any commercial detonating explosive as used in the
construction and mining industries. High explosives can be manufactured in
cartridge form (e.g. stick powder) or manufactured and supplied in bulk. High
explosives can be initiated (detonated) by a detonator (blasting cap). The velocity
of detonation (VOD) is typically between 2000 and 7000 m/s.
igniter
Any electrical device (electric match and possibly a squib) or pyrotechnic fuse
(igniter cord, black match) used to initiate pyrotechnic special effects or other
flammable material.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
77
Notes
igniter cord (thermalite)
Small-diameter (1.6 mm), slow-burning cord. Two types (30 s/m and 60 s/m) are
used to ignite pyrotechnics or flammable liquids.
inductance
Property of an electric circuit or of two adjacent circuits such that an
electromotive force is generated in one circuit by a change in the current itself
in the other circuit.
integral mortar (preloaded mortar)
A commercially produced mortar containing pyrotechnic materials and intended
for one-time use.
knocker
A device used to break house and car windows, generally powered by an
electrically fired squib.
lance
A small paper tube, roughly 1 cm by 10 cm, charged with pyrotechnic
composition. Essentially, lances are small flares and are typically used in
set pieces.
leg wires (lead wires)
A pair of insulated wires attached to an electrical ignition element (bridge wire)
in an ignition article.
line rockets (grid rockets)
A gerb-type device having a choke or nozzle charged with a fast-burning
composition and attached to a suspended wire for direction.
lycopodium powder
A yellow powder found in the spore cases of lycopodium plants. The fine
organic material is easily dispersed into a cloud that can then be ignited by a
spark or flame to produce fireball effects.
magazine
Any building, storehouse, structure or place in which any explosive is kept
or stored.
maroon
A small exploding device that produces a loud noise or report.
millibar
Unit of atmospheric pressure equal to 1/1000 bar, 1000 dynes per square
centimetre, or 0.014504 psi.
78
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
mine
A device, usually preloaded, that projects pyrotechnic material to a predetermined height, producing sparks and/or flame.
Notes
mortar
A tube, pot-like or pyramid device used to direct and control the effect of
various pyrotechnic materials.
naphthalene
White, crystalline, volatile material in a solid, flake or powdered form that
gives off flammable vapours when heated. It is typically used with black
powder bombs.
net explosive quantity (NEQ)
The actual pyrotechnic or explosive weight, excluding the packaging, wiring
or cases.
newton
Unit of force that imparts to a mass of one kilogram an acceleration of one
metre per second per second.
no-fire current
The maximum electrical current that can be applied when testing continuity
of a circuit or article without causing an ignition or degradation of the
device. For safe testing, apply no more than 20 percent of the no-fire current,
or 0.025 amperes, whichever is less, and use a blasting ohmmeter or other
approved instrument.
non-sparking tools
Implements constructed from materials (brass, copper, aluminum, wood, gun
metal, etc.) that will not spark when scraped or struck.
NRCan
Natural Resources Canada
ohm
Unit of electrical resistance, equal to the resistance of a circuit in which an
electromotive force of one volt maintains a current of one ampere.
open circuit
An electrical circuit in which there is no continuous path through which an
electric current can flow.
out of country (Pyrotechnician)
A pyrotechnician who does not normally work in Canada and has not had the
opportunity to follow the Canadian pyrotechnic special effects certification
program. The pyrotechnician must apply for a visitor certificate.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
79
Notes
oxidizer
Usually oxygen-rich, ionically bonded chemicals that decompose at moderate
temperatures, releasing oxygen that combines with the fuel.
parallel circuit
An electrical circuit in which the current is split through a number of individual
devices. The total resistance equals
1
R (total) =
(1/R1 + 1/R2 + 1/R3 + … 1/Rn)
placards
Signs placed on a vehicle to indicate the nature of the cargo as required by the
Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and by the Transportation of Dangerous
Goods Regulations.
preload
Articles manufactured for use that are ready to fire and do not have to
be assembled.
pre-mixed powders
Pyrotechnic powders that are purchased ready for use, as distinguished from
two-component powders that must be mixed after purchasing.
primed
An article or fuse containing an electric match or other type of initiator,
including detonators.
propellant
For the purposes of this manual, a generic term including black and
smokeless powder.
pyrotechnics
The science of materials capable of undergoing self-contained and selfsustained exothermic chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas,
smoke and/or sound.
pyrotechnic special effects
Compositions, articles and devices created for the purpose of entertainment
through the use of explosive materials including pyrotechnic and propellant
materials. Also, special-purpose pyrotechnics including pyrotechnic articles and
compositions, black or smokeless powder, and/or commercial high explosives
used in combination with flammable liquids (diesel, gasoline, propane,
napalm, etc.), and flammable gases and solids, to produce a one-of-a-kind
pyrotechnic effect.
80
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
Red Zone
High-danger area around a high explosive or black powder charge. Once
pyrotechnicians have positioned the charge, the Red zone is off limits to all.
The Red zone periphery also serves to indicate the minimum safe distance for
eardrums and protected camera operators.
Notes
Regulations, the
The Explosives Regulations
report
A very loud “crack” or sharp sound.
resistance
Property of a material by which it impedes the flow of electrical current. The unit
of resistance is the ohm.
safety distances
For various quantities of explosives, including pyrotechnics, the minimum
distances to be kept from all personnel and vulnerable features; generally
referred to as “Quantity-Distances” in the high explosives industry.
safety explosives (TDG Class 1.4S)
Explosives designed so that hazardous effects are confined to individual
packages, and one article cannot initiate another.
salute powder
A pyrotechnic mixture (a type of flash powder) that produces a loud report.
Saxon (wheel)
An effect consisting of a driver that rotates around a pivot point to produce a
circular shower of sparks.
series circuit
An electrical circuit in which the current flows from one device to another.
The total resistance equals the sum of resistance of each device:
R (total) = R1 + R2 = R3 + … Rn
series-parallel circuit
An electrical circuit made up of a combination of series and parallel branches.
Total resistance equals the sum of the series and parallel branches.
set piece
A ground effect made up of small lances, flares or gerbs, usually of different
colours, to produce an image or desired effect.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
81
Notes
shatter zone
The area around a high explosive (or black powder) charge in which residential
windows are likely to break.
shock tube (streeks, Nonel®)
A thin plastic tube whose inside surface is finely coated with HMX and
powdered aluminum. It is used to simulate lightning strikes, etc.
shunt
An intentional short-circuiting of an electrical circuit to improve safety.
silver fuse
Fuse producing a sparkling effect.
smoke
An air suspension of fine particles that have a typical size of 2.5 microns. Organic
dyes can be added for coloured effects that selectively absorb portions of the
visible light spectrum.
smokeless powder
A material based on nitro-cellulose and typically used as a propellant (in small
arms ammunition) or in flame projectors. The term includes propellants with a
single base (nitro-cellulose [NC] alone), double base (NC and nitroglycerin [NG])
or triple base (NC/NG/nitroguanidine). Do not confuse with black powder.
smoke pot
A device used to create smoke in a controlled manner.
soft detonator
A very powerful squib that approaches the power of a commercial high explosive
detonator. It does not have a metal case to eliminate shrapnel being produced
from it.
spark-producing device (SPD)
Electrically fired device or squib that produces a shower of sparks similar to
electric shorting or sparks from a bullet hit.
special effects
A general term used in the film and television industry referring to the
production of rain, wind, snow, smoke, steam and fire.
82
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
special effects coordinator (SEC)
For the purposes of this manual, an SEC is a pyrotechnician whose
responsibilities can include supervision, fabrication, setting up, use, striking
and storing of all equipment and material used in the making of special effects
and/or high explosives charges. In some jurisdictions, the SEC is referred to
as the “blaster of record.” The SEC may also be responsible for making special
effects such as atmospheric effects, window frosting, frost, fire, smoke, flames,
torches of all kinds, fog, steam, mist, water, waterfalls, portable spill tanks,
storms of every nature, waves, cobwebs, and mechanical and electrical effects.
Notes
special-purpose pyrotechnics
Includes authorized pyrotechnics and compositions, black or smokeless powder,
and/or commercial high explosives used in combination with flammable liquids
(diesel, gasoline, propane, napalm, etc.), and gases and solids, to produce a oneof-a-kind pyrotechnic special effect, typically for the film and television industry.
squib
A device consisting of an electric match plus a pyrotechnic charge. This
construction, which varies with the type and quantity of base charge, is used
for many applications such as igniters, small spark projectors, noise effects and
bullet hits. A squib should not be confused with an electric match.
stars
Small masses of pyrotechnic compounds that are projected from aerial effects
and mortars producing colour or streamer effects.
static discharge
The passing of a previously stationary electrical charge from one point to
another. All conductive objects (clouds, clothes, mechanical equipment, human
bodies) are capable of storing static electricity which, under certain conditions,
can be transferred to powders, electric circuits or firing articles, causing
premature initiations.
storage unit
An isolated, secure, locked container or structure that is located in a dry place,
away from flammable substances and sources of ignition.
stray currents
Electrical currents from conductive or semi-conductive material that have
“leaked” from typical transmission sources. Stray currents can be sufficient to fire
explosive charges.
support personnel
People who are neither part of the audience nor part of the actual show:
assistant pyrotechnicians, road crew, stage hands, security guards, fire watch
members, and maintenance personnel.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
83
Notes
sympathetic communication
Movement of sparks, heat or sudden force from one effect to another, causing
ignition and premature functioning.
tensile strength
Resistance to lengthwise stress.
transient currents
See stray currents.
transit
See cross over to detonation.
trunk line (electrical)
A wire or cable of wires running from a firing panel to the area of the effects.
turkey bag
Plastic bag containing a flammable liquid as used in special-purpose
pyrotechnic articles.
two-component (binary)
An explosive that is formed by blending two non-explosive components on site.
Such items are commonly shipped as separate ingredients: an oxidizer, typically
labeled “A,” and a fuel, typically labeled “B.” These ingredients do not become an
explosive pyrotechnic material until they are mixed. Colouring agents may be
present in either of the two containers or as an additive.
unusual occurrence
See dangerous occurrence.
velocity of detonation (VOD)
The speed at which a detonation wave passes through a column of explosives,
measured in metres per second (m/s) or feet per second (ft./s).
volt
Unit for measuring the difference in electric potential. A potential of one volt
causes a current of one ampere to flow through a circuit having a resistance of
one ohm.
watt
Rate of energy production equal to 1 joule/second or to the power developed
in a circuit by the current of one ampere flowing through a potential difference
of one volt.
wheel
See Saxon.
84
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
whistle
An article that produces a whistling sound as a result of oscillating combustion
of the composition and sound reflected up and down the tube.
Notes
zip cord (connector)
Typically, two alligator clips attached to wires leading from an XLR connector.
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
85
Notes
86
Special Effect Pyrotechnics Manual
This Page Intentionally Left Blank
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertising