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Outline and Sample Pages

Lecture Notes for
Fireworks Display Practices – Outline

A few sample pages are available – click on the link to see the sample page.

Section 1: Elements of Hazard Management for Firework Displays:

  • Accidents, law suits and regulation
  • Definitions:
    • Hazard
    • Risk
    • Safe
  • Hazard management:
    • Recognition of hazards
  • Display operator defined and their responsibilities

Section 2: Basic Aerial Shell Components and Their Manner of Functioning:

  • Firework aerial shell shapes and sizes:
    • Spherical
    • Cylindrical
    • Basic aerial shell components
    • Manner of aerial shell functioning (manual firing)
    • Shell leader (fuse):
      • Black match
      • Quick match
    • Lift charge (propelling charge)
    • Fireworks time fuse (delay fuse) and priming
    • Stars (pellets of pyrotechnic composition)
    • Shell inserts (small pyrotechnic components)
    • Shell burst charge (break charge)
    • Shell labels

Section 3: Aerial Shell Malfunctions, Their Causes and Safety Considerations:

  • Aerial shell ignition problems:
    • “Premature ignition”
    • Delayed ignition – “Hangfire”
    • Ignition failure – “Misfire”
  • Aerial shell functioning problems:
    • Explosion within the mortar
      • Mild explosion – “Flowerpot”
      • Powerful explosion – “Shell Detonation”
    • Explosion just above the mortar – “Muzzle Break”
    • Delayed explosion – “Low or Ground Break”
    • Failure to explode – “Dud Shell”
    • Burning debris reaches ground
    • Shell components fall to ground unignited
  • Measures to protect the public and the crew from malfunctions
  • Aerial shell inspection items

Section 4: Alternate Fireworks Aerial Shell Components and Construction:

  • Aerial shell fusing:
    • Top vs. bottom fusing
    • Redundant fuses
    • Spolette fuses
  • Aerial shell types:
  • Spherical aerial shell star and burst charge configurations
  • Cylindrical aerial shell burst configurations
  • Star types:
    • Color change stars
    • Comet and strobe stars
  • Electric matches and connectors
  • Other ignition systems
    • “No-Match” shock tube
    • “Lightning Thermo Tube”

Section 5: Typical Spherical Aerial Shell Performance:

  • Typical aerial shell and mortar parameters
  • Aerial shell firing time sequence
  • Internal mortar pressures
  • Mortar recoil forces
  • Aerial shell muzzle velocity
  • Aerial shell burst height
  • Effect of mortar length
  • Aerial shell burst delay times
  • Aerial shell burst spread (effect diameter)
  • Explosive and thermal output
  • Effect of mortar tilt angle (trajectory)
  • Aerial shell drift distance
  • Aerial shell float time in water

Section 6: Other Fireworks Types:

  • Low-level aerial fireworks:
  • Firework rockets
  • Helicopters
  • Wheels
  • Fountains, gerbs, and waterfalls
  • Lancework
    • Quick match fusing
    • Sticky Match fusing
  • Fire rope

Section 7: General Display Site Requirements:

Section 8: Fireworks Display Equipment:

  • Firework mortar types
    • FRE
    • HDPE
    • Paper
    • Thick Steel
    • ABS
    • Sheet steel
    • Aluminum
    • PVC
  • Firework mortar requirements:
    • Diameter
    • Strength (wall thickness)
    • Length
    • Mortar plugs
    • Mortar inspections
    • Mortar racks, boxes (troughs) and barrels
    • Ready box
    • Other display equipment
    • Personal safety equipment
    • Emergency equipment

Section 9: Mortar Placement Issues:

  • Mortar placement within the secured area:
    • Recommended for manual firing with reloading
    • Optional for manual firing without reloading
    • Optional for electrically fired displays
  • Separation distance requirements
  • Organization of mortars
  • Burial of mortars
  • Mortar angling
  • Placement of mortar racks and troughs
    • Rack bracing
    • Rack barricading
    • Rack orientation
    • Trough orientation
  • Placement of ready boxes

Section 10: Chain Fusing Techniques:

  • Chain fusing method 1
  • Chain fusing method 2
  • Preparation of finale chain fusing
  • Methods for slowing quick match burning
    • Comparison of slowing methods
  • Delay elements for quick match
    • Self made
    • “Pyroclock” units
  • Making slow-burning fuse chains
  • Short fusing
  • Re-ignition points

Section 11: Making Repairs to Fireworks:

  • Most often needed repair supplies
  • Making slow-burning fuse chains
  • Specific repairs to aerial shells:
    • Missing shell leader safety cap
    • Short black match delay element
    • Damaged delay element
    • Short shell leader
    • Tear in shell leader
    • Seriously damaged shell leader
    • Fuse loop / suspender torn or missing
    • Leaking lift powder
    • Damaged casing or water-damaged shell
  • Repairs to other fireworks
    • Loose components
    • Damaged nosing

Section 12: Setup of Ground and Low-Level Aerial Fireworks:

  • Separation distances for ground and proximate audience displays
  • Setup of fireworks on poles
  • Guy wire safety tips
  • Separation distances for comets and mines
  • Setup of low-level aerial fireworks
  • Accidental ignition considerations
  • Moisture protection
  • Iron wire tie example

Section 13: Manual Display Firing Procedures:

  • Display operator responsibilities
  • Firing crew personnel assignments
  • Aerial shell loading
  • Aerial shell firing
  • Separation distances for comets and mines
  • Ready box tending
  • Aerial shell spotting during display
  • Crowd control monitors
  • Show interruptions
  • After the show
  • Requirements for barge and roof-top displays
  • Requirements for firing salutes
  • Preloaded manually fired displays

Section 14: Basic Electricity:

  • Ohm’s law
  • Wire resistance
  • Electric circuit symbols
  • Series circuits
  • Parallel circuits
  • Internal battery resistance

Section 15: Set-up and Safety of Electrically Fired Displays:

  • Basic set-up for electrically fired display
  • Public and crew safety
  • Requirements for electrically fired displays
  • Earth as a source of firing current
  • Electric match sensitivity
  • Precautions because of electric match sensitivity
  • Mortar inspection after malfunctions
  • Short wiring
  • Exceptions to inspection after malfunctions

Section 16: Techniques for Electric Firing:

  • Basic electric firing circuit
  • Electric matches
  • Characteristics of electric matches
  • Electric match attachment methods
    • Attachment points
    • “Quick Fire” clips
    • “Magic Fire” igniters
  • Series firing circuits
  • Parallel firing circuits
  • Comparison of series and parallel firing circuits
  • Testing firing circuits
  • Types of electric firing units
  • Wire and splicing wire
  • Covering electrically fired mortars


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