close

Privacy guaranteed - Your email is not shared with anyone.

Any former/present Pyrotechnicians around?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by geofri, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. geofri

    geofri Poikilotherm™ Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Below sea level.
    I would think I would have caught if anyone here was one ( if it was ever mentioned), but I have the chance to work for a relatively large local firework company this summer.

    As a young teenager, I really wanted to try to get into the field, but hit some walls, and let the interest fade. However, I just met an "in" at the company, and was told they would probably hire me on the spot.

    There are still plenty of details are still up in the air that I need to get directly from the company, I don't even know if there is money to make yet. I have no real experience or knowledge of chemistry, other than home experiments, but they always need truck loaders. I am told it is fairly easy to work up to managing a crew, driving a truck, and heading up shows.


    Just thought I'd put a feeler out for anyone who might know what what's up with the industry and if there is any chance of a real career in it?

    I don't know if it's what I want to do, but I feel like I ought to give it a try since I was once so interested(still am interested, just had accepted that it wasn't goign to happen for me). Seems no one actually makes shells here anymore, even this company which prides itself in it's all american image of hand manufacturing each shell orders from china..:upeyes:
     
  2. Kith

    Kith

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,601
    Likes Received:
    1
    The firs thing you will have to do is take a class to get licensed to transport explosives - whether you are driving the truck or not most companies make you get it anyway just to cover themselves.

    It's mostly a seasonal gig, summertime being your bread and butter months.

    This is if you are actually doing shoots.

    Otherwise, if you're kept on staff around the year you could work in the warehouses processing the explosives or driving a truck moving them around.

    Some shooters are kept on staff around the year for publicity events and other things that require fireworks demonstrations.

    Generally speaking, on the shoot, there are people setting them off, and people setting them up. They are usually not the same people, and in both cases you don't see what's happening in the sky because you are too busy with your tasks on the ground.

    I get into it every summer, and it's a whole lot of fun. Honestly, because most people here like things that go 'bang' i'm surprised more people aren't into it.
     

  3. geofri

    geofri Poikilotherm™ Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Below sea level.
    Cool, we got one, glocktalk never fails!

    Thanks for the input Kith!

    Are your shows manually set off, or all computerized? (This company is pretty much all set off via computer)

    Do you get to do all the wiring of fuses?

    Do you see room to earn more money and get to higher positions at your company?
     
  4. larry_minn

    larry_minn Silver Member Millennium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 1999
    Messages:
    10,114
    Likes Received:
    1,364
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I am not a "Pyrotechnician" I have helped set up some nice shows. (explosives background helped)

    The mortor rds were made locally, as well as fuse. My job was to stake down tubes (solid so no chance a early charge would upset it and fire others toward crowd) :) :) Then carry rds over where wires/det connected and gently lowered into tubes. Then covered with plastic. All wires labled and to firing board. (this was stone age stuff) We had boards with nails. Each wire to a nail. You take "wand" and touch nail to fire THAT rd. (of course the plastic removed before show)
    After show you look. wire MUST be out of tube side. (black tape to hold it) If not the tube MAY still be live/dud. If so Call for senior tech. Who will hook direct to that wire/attempt to fire it by itself. (and hope it fires/crowd does not all come back expecting oncore) :) :) If not they delt with it. (something about not being allowed to transport a rd that failed to fire) I think they imersed tube in water (watching muzzle like a loaded gun with finger pulling trigger)
    It was ok for short time. Kinda fun. (and I got to watch as I did not do any firing) Just keep folks back.

    I never got into the making part. Far as I know they still make them onsite. @ 10 yrs ago a neighbor made a monster one. (6 way?) when owner was away. The report/flash/etc was impressive. Decision was made to never make one that large again.
     
  5. DaneA

    DaneA

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2011
    Messages:
    2,501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chattanooga
    I'd suggest taking out a very large life insurance policy before you have to put this down as occupation.
     
  6. Bill Powell

    Bill Powell Cross Member CLM

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    Messages:
    4,771
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    dallas, tx
    Does pyromaniac count?
     
  7. geofri

    geofri Poikilotherm™ Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Below sea level.
    Some of you fellas managed to lose one or two shells each year. 5am july 5th I'd be out scouring the fields for duds and unburnt fuses. Always found enough to keep me busy for the rest of the summer. :supergrin:


    Meh..no dependents

    Of course! I explored my interest in fire quite extensively as a child in the woods behind my house:whistling:
     
  8. Batesmotel

    Batesmotel

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Messages:
    15,753
    Likes Received:
    2,743
    Location:
    Utah
    I looked into it. A lot of good money is in the indoor shoots. Flares, smoke, fountains, showers ETC. Concerts, movies, television, sports events, corporate events, video and still photo advertising campaigns. First step here was to get the regulations and study guide from the state (might have been county) Fire Martial. I did a lot of the homework but never went on to get the certifications.

    Much of it was emergency procedures and HasMat stuff.
     
  9. geofri

    geofri Poikilotherm™ Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    141
    Location:
    Below sea level.
    Thanks for the insight! What held you back?
     
  10. N1PJ

    N1PJ NRA Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2003
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    MA
    Wow my kind of thread. Greetings from a licensed pyrotechnician. You want to work for a relatively large company in PA let me guess Pyrotechnico or Zambelli International both out of Newcastle PA. I am leaning towards Pyrotechnico though since Zambelli still makes those nice italian shells. I work for a huge fireworks company in the North East. We put on most of the shows in MA, NH, CT, and ME. I currently hold State fireworks certifications in MA and NH. As a crew chief you not only need to know your stuff you also need to be a manager. I have a crew of 2-10 people depending on how large the shows are or the difficulty of the set up. Working under stress is a must also. If the job doesn't get done then you upset a client and possibly loose business for the company. There isn't doing it the next day like in an office job. There have been a few shows where I have fired a test shot before my crew members have finished wiring the rest of the show. Most companies require you to get a CDL with Hazmat endorsement. They don't want to schedule product deliveries to you on the Fourth. That poses its own problems if you like to drink. Just having a CDL restricts your BAC to .04 even in your own personal vehicle. I only have the licenses to shoot outdoor fireworks both on land and barges. The Special effects license is a whole other test and ball game. Not only do you need to know distances and such like display fireworks you also need to know materials, fire ratings, and construction types. A failure outside results in stars flying everywhere, grass fires, and possible injuries to crew members. A fire inside can result in a lot of people involved. If you enjoy watching the sky this job is not for you. There is a lot of calculating time between bursts and actually launching the next shells. Most of the time I am looking between the ground and just below the burst making sure there are no low breaks or problems. It takes a lot to get into the field and in some cases impossible. In MA you need to work 10 shows and be an apprentice for 3 years. After that you need 3 licensed people in MA to sign off before you can take the test at the State Fire Marshals office. NH is kind of the same except the test is taken at the State Police public safety HQ in Concord NH. It is a great rewarding job especially when the finale winds down and you can hear the crowd for miles around roaring. All I can say is put as much as you can into it and you will get more back in return. If you decide to take the job you may not get much at first but if you show a will to work people will train you. I started out making nothing just hauling racks around and doing the hard work of setting up. I got a shirt and a lunch for 14-20 hours of work and a boat load of experience that I use to this day. Sometimes they kicked me 25 or 50 bucks but it was rare. Doing the back breaking work got me into the company and meeting a lot of technicians a few who signed for my licenses later on down the road. To this day I have shot Baseball games, fairs, festivals, 4th of July shows. My favorite show was shooting the James Taylor show on the Fourth of July 2 years ago. James Taylor finished his concert and then counted down to my Fireworks show. Hours and hours go into most shows and it takes minutes for your hours of hard work to go up in fire and smoke. My days around the Fourth of July start around 4 or 5AM with the truck leaving the yard in NH. Sometimes it doesn't end till 2 or 3AM the next morning with another show the next day starting at 4 or 5AM again. Every year I sleep from July 5th through July 7th. If you have any other questions feel free to ask.
     
  11. Viper16

    Viper16

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,401
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I bet you the best gig would be to work for Disney World and be their pyrotechnics...fireworks every night. most of the shows have some sort of pyrotechnic as well! I bet there is a waiting list to get to work there!
     
  12. Batesmotel

    Batesmotel

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Messages:
    15,753
    Likes Received:
    2,743
    Location:
    Utah
    I had access to a massive all steel building several of us were using as a photo studio. We were going to do some shoots with pyro but the owner (scrap yard) needed to use the building again. Metal prices went up and people were stealing metal from the yard and trying to sell it back to him in the morning so aluminum and copper went in the warehouse until it could go on the trucks. Just never followed up. Would have been fun to be able to buy the indoor stuff.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  13. Bill Powell

    Bill Powell Cross Member CLM

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    Messages:
    4,771
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    dallas, tx
    I was talking to Red Adair at a car show luncheon one day and told him he'd gotten me into trouble when I was a kid. He said he didn't know me when I was a kid, but I told him it was still his fault.

    My cousin and I had watched one of the documentaries on Adair putting out well fires with explosives. After seeing it went into a field of 2 foot tall brown grass. We would start a small fire and drop a cherry bomb in it to snuff it. One day we waited too long to drop the cherry bomb, and suddenly had ten fires over a five foot radius. We worked our young butts to a nub stomping all those fires out.

    Adair thought that was funny as hell.