Pyrotechnics

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Pyrotechnic gerbs used in the entertainment industry Pyrotechnics.jpg
Pyrotechnic gerbs used in the entertainment industry

Pyrotechnics is the science of using materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions for the production of heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound. Its etymology stems from the Greek words pyro ("fire") and tekhnikos ("made by art"). [1] Pyrotechnics include not only the manufacture of fireworks but items such as safety matches, oxygen candles, explosive bolts and fasteners, components of the automotive airbag and gas pressure blasting in mining, quarrying and demolition.

Etymology study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time

Etymology is the study of the history of words. By extension, the term "the etymology " means the origin of the particular word and for place names, there is a specific term, toponymy.

Fireworks low explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes

Fireworks are a class of low explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display, a display of the effects produced by firework devices. Fireworks competitions are also regularly held at a number of places.

A pyrotechnic fastener is a fastener, usually a nut or bolt, that incorporates a pyrotechnic charge that can be initiated remotely. One or more explosive charges embedded within the bolt are typically activated by an electric current, and the charge breaks the bolt into two or more pieces. The bolt is typically scored around its circumference at the point(s) where the severance should occur. Such bolts are often used in space applications to ensure separation between rocket stages, because they are lighter and much more reliable than mechanical latches.

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Individuals responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnic devices are referred to as pyrotechnicians.

A pyrotechnician is a person who is responsible for the safe storage, handling, and functioning of pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic devices. Although the term is generally used in reference to individuals who operate pyrotechnics in the entertainment industry, it can include all individuals who regularly handle explosives. However, individuals who handle more powerful materials for commercial, demolition, or military applications are generally referred to as explosive technicians.

Proximate pyrotechnics

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

Rammstein uses pyrotechnics numerous times in their concerts; their performance of "Feuer frei!" is pictured here Rammstein-flamethrowers.jpg
Rammstein uses pyrotechnics numerous times in their concerts; their performance of "Feuer frei!" is pictured here
Pyrotechnics stunt exhibition by "Giant Auto Rodeo", Ciney, Belgium Stunt Pyrotechnics Luc Viatour.jpg
Pyrotechnics stunt exhibition by "Giant Auto Rodéo", Ciney, Belgium

Many musical groups use pyrotechnics to enhance their live shows. Pink Floyd were innovators of pyrotechnic use in concerts. For instance, at the climax of their song "Careful with That Axe, Eugene", a blast of smoke was set off at the back of the stage. Bands such as The Who, KISS and Queen soon followed with use of pyrotechnics in their shows. Michael Jackson attempted using pyrotechnics in a 1984 Pepsi advertisement, [2] where a stray spark caused a small fire in his hair. German industrial metal band Rammstein are renowned for their incorporation of a large variety of pyrotechnics into performances, which range from flaming costumes to face-mounted flamethrowers. Nightwish, Lordi and Green Day are also known for their vivid pyrotechnics in concert. Many professional wrestlers have also used pyrotechnics as part of their entrances to the ring.

Pink Floyd English rock band

Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. Distinguished by their philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, extended compositions, and elaborate live shows, they are one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history.

Careful with That Axe, Eugene Pink Floyd song

"Careful with That Axe, Eugene" is an instrumental piece by the British rock band Pink Floyd. The studio recording was originally released as the B-side of their single "Point Me at the Sky" which also features on the Relics compilation album; live versions can also be found on various releases. Pink Floyd re-recorded the track for Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni's film Zabriskie Point, retitling it "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up" on the film's soundtrack album. This song was one of several to be considered for the band's "best of" album, Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd. It was included on the multi-artist Harvest compilation, A Breath of Fresh Air – A Harvest Records Anthology 1969–1974 in 2007.

The Who English rock band

The Who are an English rock band formed in London in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide.

Modern pyrotechnics are, in general, divided into categories based upon the type of effect produced or manufacturing method. The most common categories are:

Flare pyrotechnic, produces intense light or heat without an explosion

A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. Flares are used for signalling, illumination, or defensive countermeasures in civilian and military applications. Flares may be ground pyrotechnics, projectile pyrotechnics, or parachute-suspended to provide maximum illumination time over a large area. Projectile pyrotechnics may be dropped from aircraft, fired from rocket or artillery, or deployed by flare guns or handheld percussive tubes.

Gerb (pyrotechnic)

A gerb is a type of firework which produces a jet of sparks, usually lasting between 15 and 60 seconds. It is a thick-walled tube filled with pyrotechnic composition and possessing a choke, which is a narrowing in the tube. Gerbs are often referred to as 'fountains'.

Squib (explosive) miniature explosive device

A squib is a miniature explosive device used in a wide range of industries, from special effects to military applications. It resembles a tiny stick of dynamite, both in appearance and construction, although with considerably less explosive power. Squibs consist of two electrical leads which are separated by a plug of insulating material, a small bridge wire or electrical resistance heater, and a bead of heat-sensitive chemical composition in which the bridge wire is embedded. Squibs can be used for generating mechanical force, or to provide pyrotechnic effects for both film and live theatrics. Squibs can be used for shattering or propelling a variety of materials.

A basic pyrotechnic device. Gerb Schematic.JPG
A basic pyrotechnic device.

A basic theatrical effect, designed to create a jet or fountain of sparks, is referred to as a gerb. A gerb consists of a sufficiently strong and non-flammable container to hold the pyrotechnic compound. Typical pyrotechnic formulations consist either of flammable materials such as nitrocellulose and/or black powder or a mixture of a fuel and oxidizer blended in situ. A plug placed at one end of the container with a small orifice, called a choke, constricts the expulsion of the ignited pyrotechnic compound, increasing the size and aggressiveness of the jet.

Pyrotechnics are widely used in professional wrestling, including the WWE, to enhance the event. Jeff-Hardy-&-Triple-H on Stage,-RLA-Melb-10.11.2007.jpg
Pyrotechnics are widely used in professional wrestling, including the WWE, to enhance the event.

Various ingredients may be added to pyrotechnic devices to provide colour, smoke, noise or sparks. Special additives and construction methods are used to modify the character of the effect produced, either to enhance or subdue the effect; for example, sandwiching layers of pyrotechnic compounds containing potassium perchlorate, sodium salicylate or sodium benzoate with layers that do not creates a fountain of sparks with an undulating whistle.

In general, such pyrotechnic devices are initiated by a remotely controlled electrical signal that causes an electric match, or e-match, to produce ignition. The remote control may be manual, via a switch console, or computer controlled according to a pre-programmed sequence and/or a sequence that tracks the live performance via stage cues.

Electric match device using electricity to ignite a combustible compound

An electric match is a device that uses an externally applied electric current to ignite a combustible compound.

Display pyrotechnics

The 2008-09 Melbourne NYE fireworks, as seen from Alexandra Gardens NYE melb 2008.jpg
The 2008-09 Melbourne NYE fireworks, as seen from Alexandra Gardens

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

Consumer pyrotechnics

Consumer pyrotechnics are devices readily available for purchase to the general public with little or no special licensing or training. These items are considered relatively low hazard devices but, like all pyrotechnics, can still be hazardous and should be stored, handled and used appropriately. Some of the most common examples of consumer pyrotechnics encountered include recreational fireworks (including whistling and sparking types), model rocket motors, highway and marine distress flares, sparklers and caps for toy guns. Pyrotechnics are also indirectly involved in other consumer products such as powder actuated nail guns, ammunition for firearms, and modern fireplaces. Some types, including bird scarers, shell crackers, whistle crackers and flares, may be designed to be fired from a 12-gauge pistol or rifle.

Safety

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

Homemade devices

Homemade flashpots built without any safety mechanisms Hazardous Homemade Pyrotechnic Flash Pot.jpg
Homemade flashpots built without any safety mechanisms

A common low-budget pyrotechnic flash pot is built using modified screw-in electric fuses in a common light fixture. The fuses are intentionally blown, acting as ignitors for a pyrotechnic material.

Homemade devices may fail to include safety features and can provide numerous hazards, including:

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

Pyrotechnic incidents

My Chemical Romance performing live with pyrotechnics, on the stage My Chemical Romance fire.jpg
My Chemical Romance performing live with pyrotechnics, on the stage

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

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

At Olympic Stadium in Montreal during the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour on August 8, 1992, Metallica frontman James Hetfield was the victim of a severe pyrotechnics accident during the song "Fade to Black", in which a pyrotechnic charge exploded. Hetfield's guitar protected him from the full force of the blast; however, the fire engulfed his left side, burning his hand, arm, eyebrows, face and hair. He suffered second and third-degree burns, but was back on stage 17 days later.

In 2003, improper use of pyrotechnics caused a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub called The Station. The Station nightclub fire was started when fireworks used by the band Great White accidentally ignited flammable soundproofing foam. The pyrotechnics in question were not appropriate. The foam caused combustion to spread rapidly and the resulting fire led to 100 deaths, apparently because their quick escape was blocked by ineffective exit doors. While the type of foam used and the lack of a sprinkler system were important factors in the fire, [3] the Great White fire could likely have been prevented had those involved paid attention to standard safety practices around the use of pyrotechnics. [4]

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

In May 2000, a small fire led to two massive explosions at the SE Fireworks Depot in Enschede, the Netherlands, leaving 23 people dead, 947 people injured, and an estimated 2,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

In March 2008, A Pyrotechnic lead cable snapped during the end of the show pyrotechnics, causing some minor burns and injuries to the crowd at WWE Wrestlemania 24 leading to a big investigation.

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

In July 2012, a WWE RAW pyrotechnic rehearsal caused a small fire on the led wall before doors opened. Crews put it out before it could get any bigger. No one was injured but the doors were opened thirty minutes late.

On January 27, 2013, at the "Kiss" nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, an accident due to the use of pyrotechnics by the performing live show band caused a fire which resulted in the deaths of at least 236 people, while dozens suffered serious injuries from the fire and smoke inhalation.

In January 2015 a fireworks factory in Granada, Colombia exploded injuring one person. [5]

On June 13, 2015 Michael Clifford of 5 Seconds of Summer suffered face, hair, and shoulder injuries from a pyrotechnics accident on the Rock Out With Your Socks Out tour at the SSE Wembley Arena, London. Calum Hood suffered a minor burn on his arm in the incident.

On October 30, 2015, at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, pyrotechnics used by the band Goodbye to Gravity accidentally ignited soundproofing foam on a pillow. The fire quickly spread onto the ceiling and the rest of the club. This led to the death of 64 people and injured approximately 200 others. Four members of Goodbye to Gravity lost their lives, and only their soloist survived. It remains the worst night club fire in Romania's history.

See also

Notes

  1. Pyrotechnics | Define Pyrotechnics at Dictionary.com
  2. BBC ON THIS DAY | 27 | 1984: Michael Jackson burned in Pepsi ad
  3. Nist.gov Archived June 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. NFPA.org Archived March 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Fireworks factory explodes in Colombia". BBC. 5 Jan 2015.

Related Research Articles

The Station nightclub fire occurred on Thursday, February 20, 2003, in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killing 100 people and injuring 230. The fire was caused by pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager of the evening's headlining band Great White, which ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage. The blaze reached flashover within one minute, causing all combustible materials to burn. Intense black smoke engulfed the club in 5½ minutes. Video footage of the fire shows its ignition, rapid growth, the billowing smoke that quickly made escape impossible, and blocked egress that further hindered evacuation. The toxic smoke, heat, and the resulting human rush toward the main exit killed 100; 230 were injured and another 132 escaped uninjured. Many of the survivors developed posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of psychological trauma.

Firecracker small explosive device primarily designed to make noise

A firecracker is a small explosive device primarily designed to produce a large amount of noise, especially in the form of a loud bang; any visual effect is incidental to this goal. They have fuses, and are wrapped in a heavy paper casing to contain the explosive compound. Firecrackers, along with fireworks, originated in China.

Roman candle (firework)

A Roman candle is a traditional type of firework that ejects one or more stars or exploding shells. Roman candles come in a variety of sizes, from 6 mm (1/4") diameter for consumers, up to 8 cm (3") diameter in professional fireworks displays.

Sparkler

A sparkler is a type of hand-held firework that burns slowly while emitting colored flames, sparks, and other effects.

Fuse (explosives) part of a device that initiates function in an explosive, pyrotechnic device or military munition

In an explosive, pyrotechnic device, or military munition, a fuse is the part of the device that initiates function. In common usage, the word fuse is used indiscriminately. However, when being specific, the term fuse describes a simple pyrotechnic initiating device, like the cord on a firecracker whereas the term fuze is sometimes used when referring to a more sophisticated ignition device incorporating mechanical and/or electronic components, such as a proximity fuze for an M107 artillery shell, magnetic or acoustic fuze on a sea mine, spring-loaded grenade fuze, pencil detonator, or anti-handling device.

Smokeless powder propellant used in firearms and artillery

Smokeless powder is the name given to a number of propellants used in firearms and artillery that produce negligible smoke when fired, unlike the gunpowder or black powder they replaced. The term is unique to the United States and is generally not used in other English-speaking countries, which initially used proprietary names such as "Ballistite" and "Cordite" but gradually shifted to "propellant" as the generic term.

Flash powder

Flash powder is a pyrotechnic composition, a mixture of oxidizer and metallic fuel, which burns quickly and if confined produces a loud report. It is widely used in theatrical pyrotechnics and fireworks and was once used for flashes in photography.

Visco fuse

A visco fuse is a higher-quality fuse used for consumer fireworks. It is most commonly colored green or red, and is found as a twisted, coated strand. It is also used to create delays in the firing of multiple firework displays.

A flash fire is a sudden, intense fire caused by ignition of a mixture of air and a dispersed flammable substance such as a solid, flammable or combustible liquid, or a flammable gas. It is characterized by high temperature, short duration, and a rapidly moving flame front.

A pyrotechnic composition is a substance or mixture of substances designed to produce an effect by heat, light, sound, gas/smoke or a combination of these, as a result of non-detonative self-sustaining exothermic chemical reactions. Pyrotechnic substances do not rely on oxygen from external sources to sustain the reaction.

NFPA 1123, subtitled Code for Fireworks Display is a code administered, copyrighted, and published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA 1123 is the registered trademark of an American consensus standard which, like many NFPA documents, is systematically revised on a three year cycle.

M-80 (explosive)

M-80s are an American class of large powerful firecrackers, sometimes called salutes. M-80s were originally made in the early 20th century by the U.S. military to simulate explosives or artillery fire; later, M-80s were manufactured as fireworks. Traditionally, M-80s were made from a small cardboard tube, often red, approximately 1 12 inches (3.8 cm) long and 916 inch (1.4 cm) inside diameter, with a fuse or wick coming out of the side; this type of fuse is commonly known as cannon fuse or Visco fuse, after a company responsible for standardizing the product. The tubes often hold approximately 2½–3 grams of pyrotechnic flash powder; many sources state that an M-80 carries 3 grams of powder.

Thermalite a specific type of fuse used in pyrotechnic applications. The product was designed to be used in cross matching safety fuses of the Bickford type. As safety fuse is designed to neither give nor take fire through the heavy fuse jacket, ignition may be achieved by punching a hole perpendicular to and through a safety fuse powder core, threading a piece of Thermalite or similar igniter cord through the hole, then gently squeezing the safety fuse with pliers or similar to bring the powder core into contact with the igniter cord. The Thermalite could be ignited by a match, or more certainly by a purpose made igniter, similar to a wire sparkler.

Glossary of firelighting Wikimedia list article

This is an alphabetized glossary of terms pertaining to lighting fires, along with their definitions. Firelighting is the process of starting a fire artificially. Fire was an essential tool in early human cultural development. It requires completing the fire triangle, usually by initiating the combustion of a suitably flammable material.

Fireworks policy in the United States

Fireworks policy in the United States can be different in each jurisdiction.

References