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Thread: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

  1. #1

    Default How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    I am sorry if this has been hashed over many times in the past. I looked through the safety forum and I could not find specific information on what is considered a safe site, from a fire standpoint. I saw a lot of posts about safety distance and some posts about dry conditions but nothing really specific.

    How do I know when conditions are too dry? Is it safe as long as the plants in the area are green but the area is dry? How close is too close to trees?

    I am going to shoot in the back yard 150-200 feet away from the house. There is a sizable swimming pool between the site and the house. Ground zero is cut grass. It is part of the lawn that is maintained. There might be saplings or trees less than 5 feet very close to the fireworks but I can get rid of those if need be. Large trees are 30 or more feet away. Nothing over the shoot site.

    I am in Missouri, near St. Louis, and conditions are usually hot and humid on the 4th. Any thoughts appreciated.

    Bobby

  2. #2
    KCAP Charter Member Array mattrod's Avatar
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    good question.
    nfpa 1123 requires 70' radius per inch of shell diameter as a good start... so a 1.75" shell needs AT LEAST 125' radius. you have 150'- 200' that should should be good for most 1.4, be sure to secure your big cakes (noabs) so they don't tip-
    keep everything at least 25' feet from trees, powerlines, etc.
    water the grass the day before, and keep it short.
    you are dealing with 1.4, the stuff is designed to be shot in close proximity by drunk uncle, if you are smart, have a water hose/water cans on hand, & keep your audience back, you'll be fine.
    remember to throw some shells up during the the day for "wind checks"
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Pay attention to your county's fire conditions report, burn bans, etc. If there's a burn ban, you should rethink any fireworks plans. (For one thing, you're more likely to be arrested if someone calls the police.)

    Pay attention to the wind direction and velocity. If the area is dry and there are gusty winds, this is problematic.

    It is VERY difficult to put out a tree if the leaves were dry and you catch the crown on fire. A normal fire extinguisher or garden hose will not help.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Not sure how it works where you are, but 'burn ban' and 'fireworks ban' are absolutely NOT the same thing where I live.

    Putting out a tree? Yikes!

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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    In addition to what ratroford said, I will spike those circular style cakes as their base won't be all that sturdy either. Then, depending on the distance of your crowd, I put up a small barrier between your audience and your stations. This helps just in case you have a blowout or a tip over.
    Of course, then you have the burn bans.

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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Excellent question. One of the better "new guy" questions ever. Better than mine for sure lol.

    Ratrod's answer is pretty spot on. Keep the grass watered and be prepared with fire extingushers (the water ones) or garden hoses just in case. Regarding distances, 70 feet per inch doesn't apply with consumer fireworks, but at 150-200 feet you should easily be ok. That said, with distances, the more the better.

    Glad to see another member with safety in mind at the heart of the matter. Good post.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    One year we had very dry conditions in my suburb. I watered the grass with hoses all afternoon. I went to start shooting some of my cakes(this was when I was shooting a single cake at a time) and the grass started on fire. Had to shut down doing fireworks that year. Better to be safe then sorry.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by ratrodford View Post
    good question.
    nfpa 1123 requires 70' radius per inch of shell diameter as a good start... so a 1.75" shell needs AT LEAST 125' radius. you have 150'- 200' that should should be good for most 1.4, be sure to secure your big cakes (noabs) so they don't tip-
    keep everything at least 25' feet from trees, powerlines, etc.
    water the grass the day before, and keep it short.
    you are dealing with 1.4, the stuff is designed to be shot in close proximity by drunk uncle, if you are smart, have a water hose/water cans on hand, & keep your audience back, you'll be fine.
    remember to throw some shells up during the the day for "wind checks"
    Thanks for the info. I was planning on glueing all my cakes to plywood with a hot glue gun. That seemed the safest to me. Naturally if that is a no-no, I will change my plans.

    Can you explain the "wind checks"?

    Bobby

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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    LMAO! ^^^^listen to the guys above, my answer would definitely be wrong....I would suggest plenty of water at any shoot, sometimes you can give the local fire department a few bucks to hang out as well.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by RudyG View Post
    One year we had very dry conditions in my suburb. I watered the grass with hoses all afternoon. I went to start shooting some of my cakes(this was when I was shooting a single cake at a time) and the grass started on fire. Had to shut down doing fireworks that year. Better to be safe then sorry.
    If that is the year I am thinking of, that was pretty bad. Dead grass all summer!

  11. #11

    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    NOABs are much less likely to tip than small cakes. Those small barely 200g cakes are some of the worst ones. At the demos we usually don't worry to much about the 500s. Almost every 200 gets braced. Last time I didn't brace a 200 it tipped.
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    super member Array Duncanbullet's Avatar
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Also another thing to keep in mind is surrounding neighbors, if a house is close make sure you neighbor doesnt hate fireworks. and when i do a big show i like to rope off the the front part of the shoot site or wherever there will be spectators facing. and rope off the entirety of Ground zero.

    And for a wind check, just get some 1.75 cheepo ball shells at your stand, and light 3 or 4 of them during the day. if the wind pushed them more than you feel comfertable with, then you might need to recheck your setup
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Never really understood wind checks. Typically the wind dies down or changes direction when it gets dark. So the wind check you did at 5PM serves no purpose other than an excuse to light a shell.
    I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by stuntborg View Post
    Never really understood wind checks. Typically the wind dies down or changes direction when it gets dark. So the wind check you did at 5PM serves no purpose other than an excuse to light a shell.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by stuntborg View Post
    Never really understood wind checks. Typically the wind dies down or changes direction when it gets dark. So the wind check you did at 5PM serves no purpose other than an excuse to light a shell.
    Yeah, so... and you point is?

    I love the "wind checks!" or is that sound checks?

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    KCAP Charter Member Array mattrod's Avatar
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by stuntborg View Post
    . So the wind check you did at 5PM serves no purpose other than an excuse to light a shell.
    obviously you're not a pyro.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Bobby,

    ratrodford's answer is great. Only reason I'm even commenting is to let you know there are quite a few of us around St. Louis, and we are always interested in meeting more like-minded pyros. If you haven't already, check out MoPyro...we have a club shoot this Saturday down in Pevely. Send me a PM if you'd like to know more.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    After all the good comments here remember the last line of safety...Your gut instinct....Are you questioning yourself? If you are, take the time to do "it" right. Those questions in your head are Murphy checking to see if you are awake.
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    Member Array Pyro Chuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by stuntborg View Post
    Never really understood wind checks. Typically the wind dies down or changes direction when it gets dark. So the wind check you did at 5PM serves no purpose other than an excuse to light a shell.
    I need no excuse to light a shell, other than I just wanted to But on the same note, as I live in probably the most windy area of most folks on here when it comes to fireworks...you just generally know if it's safe or not. I have always looked at like this....if I have to stop and ask myself if the wind is too much, then it probably is and we just wait. On the other hand, if I go outside and next thing I know I'm prepping to shoot something, then the wind is most likely not a factor to be reckoned with...just my thoughts.

    Dry conditions are certainly another issue we have to deal with, but on the fourth in my small town the VFD is usually out all day watering the perimeter down and on stand-by/spectating with their trucks and equipment when we shoot....heck a couple of them are shooting as well. All of that being said, as it has been mentioned in this thread already...a visit to your local fire guys and gals and they may just want to come and join you in the fun and help out.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Odd question but are the affects produced by fireworks hot enough to ignite GREEN leaves or pine needles still alive on the trees? I was having this discussion with someone last weekend and I told them that 1.4 fireworks simply aren't hot enough to light up a tree just from the "sparks" a cake or mortar may put up in the air. They disagreed. I told them I've seen lots of ignited comp falling into trees with ZERO fires. They still weren't convinced.

  21. #21
    Have fireworks. Will travel. Array JoeRatman's Avatar
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Always brace or barricade your cakes. If the cake tips over, that 150' will not be enough to protect the audience.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by gunner1 View Post
    Odd question but are the affects produced by fireworks hot enough to ignite GREEN leaves or pine needles still alive on the trees? I was having this discussion with someone last weekend and I told them that 1.4 fireworks simply aren't hot enough to light up a tree just from the "sparks" a cake or mortar may put up in the air. They disagreed. I told them I've seen lots of ignited comp falling into trees with ZERO fires. They still weren't convinced.
    They are certainly hot enough - for the most part, the chems in 1.4G are exactly the same as those in 1.3G, and would burn at the same temperature. The issue would be whether they burn long enough to heat the leaves/pine needles up to their burning point. For the most part, 1.4G stars are small and burn out rapidly. Shooting large comets (think Turkey Shoot), Roman candles, or other longer-burning effect into a tree might be another story.

    One big issue is that a tree can be green to the eye but still quite dry. Think of Christmas trees - months after Christmas, my tree would be sitting on a burn pile on my property, it would still look green, but it would be very dry and would flare up immediately just from a match. And a pine tree can be mostly green but have some brown needles that will go up like a torch and light the green ones if you're unlucky.

    Remember that the question asked by OP was about large trees being 30' away - that's not very far.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Yes, it is possible to light a five tree on fire, but much more of a risk with pine trees. They are terrible, plus there is usually pine straw everywhere around them. Non evergreens are much less of a problem, we usually get fires in 1) dry grass, 2) leaves or pine straw or 3) cake boxes start burning, then set everything near them on fire. My biggest problem is 3.

    I have had cake boxes catch fire and not go completely out even with a dunk in the ocean. There is a lot of cardboard in some of them, and small spaces that fire lingers. So do glue the boxes to plywood for safety, but leave a little space between them so they don't set each other on fire too quickly. And have lots of water cans, water buckets, hoses, etc available. 5 gallon buckets are great and cheap.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    I had some trouble a few years ago. We has spent a ton of time getting the place in shape for the party. I guess an ember landed in a flower bed at the farthest part of my property and smoldered overnight. No damage except for blackened bark. Thankfully it was watered earlier in the day. That bed takes about 15 yards of bark.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby View Post
    ....There is a sizable swimming pool between the site and the house....
    If the pool is not covered up you will be cleaning a lot of the crap out of it the following day (cardboard, clay plugs, etc.).

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    KCAP Charter Member Array mattrod's Avatar
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by lava top View Post
    If the pool is not covered up you will be cleaning a lot of the crap out of it the following day (cardboard, clay plugs, etc.).
    depending on the wind... if this is a party, there will be plenty to clean out of the pool anyway (double shock it!) - personal experience.
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    Default Re: How can you tell a site is safe for fireworks?

    Quote Originally Posted by ratrodford View Post
    .......if this is a party, there will be plenty to clean out of the pool anyway (double shock it!) - personal experience.
    I'm afraid to even ask.

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