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Pyrotechnic Safety

When planning to use pyrotechnic effects, advice should always be sought from the local fire brigade or police force, who may have specific advice.

The following information has been taken from information from Le Maitre and Skyhigh Stage FX regarding the safe use of pyrotechnics. Further information and up-to-date training course listings are availble from The Association of Stage Pyrotechnicians.

MSER to come into effect on 26th April 2005

The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005, were approved by ministers on Monday 4th April as Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1082 - and will come into force on 26th April.

Note!More information will be available soon, but the Regulations can be viewed on-line at the HSE and HMSO websites.

Pyrotechnic Use

Whilst pyrotechnic devices are manufactured to the highest standards under strictly licensed conditions and every effort is made to ensure quality, uniformity and consistency, please note that pyrotechnic devices can react in different and unexpected ways depending on environmental and atmospheric conditions prevailing at the time of ignition. This must be borne in mind when siting pyrotechnic devices, and use of a pyrotechnic device indoors or outdoors is at the sole discretion of the operator, who will have taken full note of the prevailing situation.

Safety is, and must be, given priority over every other consideration. It is recommended that a strict 'Code of Practice' be followed when using pyrotechnics for any purpose. An example 'Code' is shown below - this is intended as a guide only and is by no means conclusive.

  1. Pyrotechnic special effects can be extremely dangerous if misused and should only be used by competent adult people following the manufacturer's instructions fully and with extreme care.
  2. Do not use pyrotechnics in confined spaces or near flammable materials.
  3. Only use the smallest device available to achieve the desired effect. If there are any doubts about the effect produced, contact the manufacturer for advice before use.
  4. All pyrotechnic devices must be sited so there is no possiblity of injury to people.
  5. All pyrotechnic devices must be sited so that they are clear of, and cannot set fire to adjacent materials, fabrics, costumes and scenery etc.
  6. Around each pyrotechnic there must be a Safety Zone, the size of which is recommended by the manufacturer and should form part of the risk-assessment procedures. ALL personnel must be made aware of the safety zone.
  7. All pyrotechnics must be stored in a cool, dry, secure place in a main store.
  8. One person only should be made responsible for the setting up of, and the firing of, pyrotechnics.
  9. The 'arming' key should only be put in the controller when pyrotechnic devices are ready to be fired. Under no circumstances should the arming key be left in the controller unattended.
  10. The operator should always remove the arming key and keep it on their person during set-up and loading. The detonator system should be isolated from the mains and the cable connecting the pod unplugged before pyrotechnics are loaded.
  11. The operator must ensure that the controller unit is sited so that a direct view of all devices at all times is achieved. Under no circumstances should a pyrotechnic be fired out of view of the operator.
  12. The effect should not be fired if anyone is inside the safety zone. If in doubt, do not fire.
  13. Remove the arming key and switch off the unit immediately after use.
  14. There must be no smoking, naked flames or any other sources of ignition in the vicinity of pyrotechnic material at any time. As pyrotechnic devices utilse electric fuses, mobile phones should be considered a source of ignition
  15. Ensure that suitable fire fighting equipment is to hand and that personnel are trained in its correct use.
  16. Ensure that a suitable first aid kit is available and that personnel are trained in its use.
  17. Only sufficient pyrotechnic devices for each performance should be taken from the main store. Excess material should not be stored on-stage.
  18. Always consider the application of a 'testing' current to an electrically ignited device to be that of an actual firing situation, and employ identical safety zones.
  19. The use of any pyrotechnics indoors or outdoors is solely at the discretion of the operator who will have taken full note of the prevailing situation. Operators are warned that pyrotechnic devices can sometimes vary in their performance and no guarantee is given that every device will perform indentically - this must be considered when siting devices.
  20. Pyrotechnics must only be used in conjunction with manufacturer approved firing systems.


Pyrotechnic devices can be dangerous and the utmost care must be taken when using them. In particular it is unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to operate the ignition of any pyrotechnic device.

See also:

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