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Topic: A matter of great concern for all of us
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jun 21, 2004 02:26PM)
I have noticed recently that more and more people are posting things to this forum that are apparently in violation of the forum rules.

I'm not a moderator of the Magic Café, so I am speaking strictly for myself, but I cringe anytime I see certain kinds of posts, especially those that seem to ignore basic rules of fire safety. I have been accused of being overly cautious. This may be so, but it is based on harsh reality.

When you start asking about how to make sparks fly out over the heads of the audience, consider this. It only took a few sparks to set the night club afire that burned down in West Warwick, RI. You can't "un-burn" a building. A hundred people were killed and another 200 injured as a result of that fire.

A second matter is this: many of the people who are posting questions (and answers) about various and sundry chemical preparations are ill-advised to do so. I have forgotten most of the chemistry I had in high school and college, but I do have chemists with whom I consult before I brew up a concoction to use in a show. Many of our posters have had NO training whatsoever. Some of the chemicals we used 30 or 40 years ago are illegal to purchase over the counter and may be lethal, carcinogenic or have other very seriously damaging consequences if used improperly.

And some are proprietary, which means that revealing what they are on this OPEN FORUM is just as serious as revealing how any illusion, trick or sleight is done.

Please consider all of this when posting.
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Jul 4, 2004 03:01PM)
You are absolutely correct there Bill, there are many dangerous chemicals when not used properly can put yourself and others at risk. Let the professionals make your flash paper and other pyrotechnics.
Keep safe
Matt
Message: Posted by: Devoted (Jul 6, 2004 12:11PM)
The use of untested fuels can also in many instances create very toxic fumes that are not at first detectable but after a long storage process can be emitted.. Bill is absolutely correct; if you feel the fuel sources you use are not up to snuff then engage someone in a nearby university or college with the training that you your self do not possess.
Message: Posted by: Regan (Aug 5, 2004 11:06PM)
I learned the hard way just how dangerous fire effects can be.

I had previously worked with pyrotechnics for years while I played in a rock 'n roll band. I also used fire effects in my magic shows and in the haunted houses I worked at. I had quite a bit of experience and thought I knew what I was doing when it came to using pyro. However, it took only an instant and one careless moment to make me realize, YOU CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL!

I received a very serious burn on my right hand when flash powder ignited on my palm. It was a terribly painful, blistering burn, but thanks to quick action, proper treatment, and perhaps some help from above, it healed and left no scars.

Please, if you are going to use fire effects, use caution! Know what you are doing before you do it. Bill Palmer knows what he is talking about. Heed his advice and don't get burned.

Magically yours,

Regan
Message: Posted by: silking (Aug 11, 2004 08:49AM)
Bill is 100 per-cent right. I learned the hard way and that taught me a lesson. Use you head when it comes to flash and fire effects. I still have a small scar to remind me !

Silking
Message: Posted by: Partizan (Aug 11, 2004 08:47PM)
I agree with this post all the way. I have a good understanding of chemistry and have used laboratory facilities on many occasions.
Even with the pro chemists there are bad accidents. I have witnessed a few myself. We had a major chem spillage one time, 8 people were unconsious within seconds and recieved severe lung damage. the rest of the lab was evacuated.

So. Even if you know what you are doing, Don't put your or others life at risk!
Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (Sep 3, 2004 09:56PM)
Yes, I totally agree. If you try and create this stuff by yourself and you are not a real chemist with letters after your name and don't have a real laboratory then you will very likely end up as a Darwin Award.

If you don't know what that is, go to http://www.darwinawards.com and learn the perils of stupidity.
Message: Posted by: Darkwing (Sep 19, 2004 12:35AM)
My full time job is selling heavy industrial valves and instrumentation to the process chemical industry. I work with engineers on a daily basis who deal with the safe process and handling of very dangerous chemicals 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. My customers train constantly on dealing with their products and train on reacting to potential accidents. We put in safety factors on our products of 20 to 200 to one ratios to insure product integrity. All wetted products, piping, and vessels have a life and must be maintained on a preventive maintainance program. The workers use and are trained with a variety of different equipment such as respirators, goggles, and chemical suits to protect the workers from potential hazards. I have seen the aftermath of chemical spills, reactions, fires, and explosions and was glad I had not been around when the accidents occured.

What is my point?

If you are not trained in the proper handling of chemcial you are literally playing with somthing worse that fire. The question is not if you will get hurt by a chemical mishap, but when.

Forget the chemcial magic and making your own fire effects. Leave that to the experts and go out an buy yourself a deck of cards.
Message: Posted by: bitterman (Feb 13, 2005 03:12PM)
Actually, you can't do anymore pyro effects in bars or clubs here in Mass. now because of the R.I. fire. Anybody looking for used equipt.?
Message: Posted by: James Watkins (Feb 20, 2005 08:24PM)
Know what is combustable and what isn't as well. I hate to bring this up, but if it helps save a life, then it is all good. I had a buddy a while back who mixed two chemicals in. Little did he know, they were combustable when mixed together. He set a spark to it, and it blew up right in his face, and now, he is walking around with shades, a dog, and a cane... Get the picture? Bill is a very smart person when it comes to magic, so please take his words into consideration. My friend could have easily been killed if he were standing over those chemicals. Know what you are doing; if you want to mix two chemicals, ask a chemistry teacher at your school or something. FIRE IS NOT SOMETHING TO PLAY WITH! This isn't just a little saying told by adults to kids-- this is the real deal, and if you want to be careless, use invisible thread instead.

Later,
James
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Feb 21, 2005 02:43AM)
Bottom line: Check with the LOCAL Fire Marshall AND your State Fire Marshall for the rules for the use of fire in performance. Then FOLLOW THEM TO THE LETTER! Also ALWAYS have fire fighting equipment of some kind WITH you and within reach when you perform.

Period.

Doing anything other than that is, in many jurisdictions, asking for hefty fines and possible jail time, loss of your props and real problems with insurance companies.

Yes, it's a pain in the fundamental body parts, but following the law and the rules of safety beats the pogees out of the alternatives. Ask anyone who survived that Great White gig in Rhode Island.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Nick Wait (Feb 21, 2005 04:06PM)
I also learned th heard way, from someone elses mistakes! I am now missing my little finger and have so far had 8 operations on my right hand. Fire is danerous, fire burns, fire kills. Be safe not sorry.
Nick
Message: Posted by: BalukMagic (Feb 24, 2005 10:46PM)
True, very true...

And like I always do, REMEMBER TO HAVE A FIRE EXSTINGUISHER(sp?)NEAR YOU when you perform with fire...I ALWAYS have a small kitchen exstinguisher(sp?)

-MD
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Mar 1, 2005 04:33PM)
The Great White gig was a complete travesty. The laws about using fire indoors (or pyro) were already some of the strictest in the nation. And the club owners had to know exactly what was going on. And the band pyro guy should've also. No excuse.

I used to be able to do fire in RI, after consulting with the appropriate fire-marshals. Not any more.
Message: Posted by: sclitsome (Apr 28, 2005 05:38PM)
My CHEM12 teacher says that the products involved in making flash paper are serious carcinogens. That means they cause cancer.

I had a couple serious experiences with pyrotechnics. I have always been very careful, but I used to work in a magic shop, and one guy who worked there took a bottle of flash powder and wanted to ignite some of it, but he poured it directly from the bottle, and before I could stop him, there was a big puff of smoke that covered him and I couldn't see a thing for a couple seconds. When he emerged, just like the cartoons, his face was all black. He got lucky and only got first degree burns on his forehead, and melted eyebrows.

Then my boss at the shop had a finger flint with some flash cotton in it, and wanted to add some fire to his regular silk vanish, and did his usual gesture of blowing into his fist to make the magic, and SIMULTANEOUSLY lighting the flash cotton. He wasn't thinking and lost some eyelashes. He was pretty lucky too.
Message: Posted by: mxmln (Jun 25, 2005 09:08AM)
I can only TOTALLY agree with all that has been said. Being a scientist, I know the danger in using fire and chemicals. Over the many years of my career, I constantly revisited safety protocols for the utilization of fire and chemicals even though most of it was boring and redundant. Let me emphasize the point here. I was educated and trained over many years as a scientist--I know (VERY WELL) the dangers involved with fire and chemicals but familiarity can breed a lack of care and concern. Only the smartest people understand and accept their own individual frailities and when it comes to using fire and chemicals don't ever think you completely understand all the dangers involved because you DON'T!!!!! You are CONSTANTLY on a learning curve!!!
As for making your own flash paper and adaptations to available fire and chemical effects on the market in order to create a bigger effect---fire and chemicals can react in ways that only a scientist would understand and many of those reactions can be simplisitic but nevertheless explosive in nature. BELIEVE ME and what others have said---you don't have a clue about all the interactions, reactions and ramifications of using fire and chemistry. If you think you have it completely under control you probably fall into that category of familiarity breeds a lack of care and concern.
Just remember, there are many people out there that thought they had everything under control and they are now sightless, crippled, and scarred. Also, many of those injured people are scientists, engineers and other techically savy individuals who just thought they had everything under control because they had done it many times before.

MAKE SMART AND INFORMED DECISIONS AND ALWAYS STAY IN A LEARNING MODE
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 13, 2005 02:03AM)
I just got a PM from a fellow who disagrees with me completely. I won't post his name, because he hasn't posted anything to the list. But he mentions that fire and flash translates into cash. Maybe so. But the fellows in Vegas who use pyro have licensed technicians to cover the applications. The fire rules in Vegas are also fairly strict.

He quoted Siegfried and Roy using fire. I guess he hadn't heard about the accident.

The most telling line of his PM to me was this:
[quote]
In my opinion we have free will decide to use fire and learn to use it right. Forum shmorum what does it matter if idots cause fires ?
[/quote]

Yes, we do have free will. But we also have laws. And if you break the law, you will pay a fine or do some time. If you destroy your own property or injure yourself when you illegally use fire, then you have a different situation. You won't be able to collect on your insurance, for one thing. Think about this, the next time you "light up."

BTW, I learned this the hard way.
Message: Posted by: B.K.Pal (Oct 2, 2005 08:38AM)
Yes,Bill's advice are sound. He is our respected man.
Fire has a great attracting power so we the magicians are attracted towards it.
Inspite of every care accidents happen. And an accident ccused by fire........
Let us not be attracted towards fire like moths.
Message: Posted by: R_B_C (Oct 11, 2005 10:27PM)
Safety first-Safety Last! If it were'nt for stupid people, I would be out of a job. As a professional Firefighter with over 27 years experience, I can tell you that most people have absolutely no idea of just how quickly you can be seriously hurt, burned or injure others. Even if all your routine requires is a little fire in a dove pan, have a fire extinguisher handy, and somebody poised to grab and use it during the performance. Also keep a well equipped first aid kit with you at all times.
Lee is right about the rules of the LOCAL Fire Marshall and State Fire Marshall. Obey them to the letter. Fines for violations can get very expensive.
As far as other pyrotechic effects are concerned, leave the production and use of these to the pros. For several years I was the pyrotechnician for a large show involving full scale artillery battles, including simulated hits and explosions, and even I with all my training had several mishaps that could have been very serious.
If you want to use fire effects, think about the limitations as to where you can or can't perform them. Use only those which have been developed, tested and proven safe. Rehearse them well and make plans for when something goes wrong. You won't have time to think of one when it happens.
Life is too short to have it shortened further by stupidity!
Message: Posted by: kaytracy (Nov 1, 2005 09:46AM)
As a person in the safety industry, I agree wtih RBC, and mxmlm, if folks gave the chemistry of fire, and other chemicals the respect they deserved, I too would be out of a job.
I also spend time as a pyrotechnician for some local companies, and have stopped work, and refused to work with some crews and operators due to lax attitudes around safety and the Laws that go with the work. People have different levels of awareness and respect for the things in their life that can harm them and others. Perhaps I see more of it than many, even maybe RBC, as his work is sort of pyro-centric. I see folks who use chemicals that can cause grievous harm or damage, and not only to themselves. Oxidizers are nothing to fool around with, just as NASA. Flammables do not care if you "know how they work or not", they are not very forgiving. Rapid ignition of things can really make a mess of you, and others. Combustibles can result in slow insidious problems after everyone else has gone home.
I cannot think of a single pyro person that I know who has not had a wakeup call and gotten some form of injury, either small, or ultimate. I do not know many chemists who have not had their lab safety training re-inforced by needing to use the eyewash, deluge shower, calcium gluconate, or other "OOPS" device.
Think I am kidding? Well, in this country laws get made AFTER the horse is out of the barn. Someone got hurt doing things, so we have laws that get made, if we are lucky, to help keep us from being stupid again. Read the OSHA bulletins, or watch the news.
If you have control and knowledgeable professionals involved in ALL aspects of a dangerous activity, you can minimize the chances of an unexpected event. After all, by most definitions, accidents are preventable. Is it 100%? My paycheck says not!
k
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Feb 22, 2006 12:45PM)
Just to agree with those above- I researched, very briefly, how to make flash paper and flash cotton. I gave up the idea almost immediately. The ingredients are highly toxic and extremely dangerous, and the manufacturing process can go explosively wrong. Even storing large quantities is dangerous- flash cotton was used to fire artillery in the Napoleonic era, so you can imagine what it could do in an enclosed space.

In short, leave the manufacture to the professionals. It's cheaper: they've got the flame hoods and safety equipment needed, and they've probably got more health insurance coverage than you do.
Message: Posted by: Nyte Dragon (Jun 4, 2006 12:46AM)
Might I say that I agree 100% with Bill. I have been working with fire since I was 10 years old, and I have the scars to show for it. Fire is a very dangerous element, and one not to be taken lightly.

In my personal opinion, I would like to simply state this: Do NOT even take on fire magic until you've put some time into magic in general. And then, don't search around online, or take the cheap way out...Seek a proffesional!!! As I stated, I have been working with fire since I was 10. That's going on 13 years now, and I can speek from experience that things can and WILL go wrong. I've burned myself a multitude of times, tried "shortcuts" or the cheaper way only to wind up taking time off to heal. I have conditioned myself to fire, and can handle it with bare skin longer than others, so when I do any shows for anyone that involve fire I make SURE to tell them that it took me YEARS to do this and no one should attempt. THough I will share a lot, and am more than willing to help people on a good deal of effects, I will NEVER help, nor condone the use of fire. I believe that only those willing to put the long hours of speaking with professionals and practacing the simple moves before ever touching the fire should use it.

Friends, I have seen a lot of people harmed while playing with fire, and even had a good friend who has use fire for 3 years be killed by a simple mistake...It's dangerous to all extremes...

I've said my peace. But please, I say one more time...If you're not willing to do it the right way, which includes long hours of practice and many consultations with professionals...DON'T DO IT!
Message: Posted by: harris (Jul 14, 2006 02:44PM)
We had a great lecture at Ring 129 my a professional magician who also happens to be a Captain of a Fire Department. The longer I am in magic, the more I appreciate this type of program. Don't get me wrong, I love to learn new effects & things, but things like safety, insurance and business are more readily applied.

Just two liberty halfs worth from
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jul 24, 2006 03:51AM)
One of my best friends in the world is a retired EOD sergeant who won the Silver Star in the first Gulf War. EOD stands for Explosives Ordinance Disposal - that's the Army's Bomb Squad.

He is fully qualified to disarm literally ANY explosive device on the planet, ranging from unexploded fireworks to multi-megaton nuclear warheads and has kept up his skills as a pyrotechnician since his retirement by working in the industry and maintaining his professional licenses and certifications. If you have seen the fireworks displays in St. Louis on the 4th of July in the past 5 years or so, you have probably seen some of his supervisory work. This year, I believe he took off for famly reasons.

His comment to me, after looking at several of the posts on this board was: "There are going to be several badly burned people in this group in short order. And a couple of others are going to give themselves serious exposure to some very noxious chemicals that have high rates of carcinogenic (cancer causing) effect and probably one or two will blow themselves up, losing fingers, hands, eyes and maybe their lives. I just hope that they don't hurt anybody else."

When a guy with those qualifications makes a statement like that, people, we had ALL better sit up and take notice.

I am trying to get him to join the board and contribute a bit on safety issues to this part of the Café. With luck, we will see him on here soon, but it's going to take some arm-twisting, to say the least.

But I am hoping that I can pull it off... (NOT his arm, of course!)...

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 3, 2006 10:22AM)
Mr. Darrow,

Thanks for posting on the reality of this issue.

Harris
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Aug 14, 2006 09:22AM)
I agree with the above and know the danger of fire (and the danger of someone shouting fire in an enclosed space like a theatre - a friend of mine had a relative who was seriously injured in a rush when there was no fire but someone thought it funny to shout fire. This shows how feared and “respected”? Fire can be).

What I think is part of the problem her is that people don’t take warning seriously. Especially the carcinogen warning. In some ways I dislike health and safety regulations. They are taken to the extreme because of people doing silly things. There is a phrase I keep hearing “well Oxygen is carcinogenic”. I have no idea if this is true. I know a LOT of things are thought to be carcinogenic (not sure if there is substantial evidence to support these findings or if it somewhat circumstantial?). May be someone can shed some light on this for me?

But you have to take all these things into consideration example: Hard Wood dust is labelled carcinogenic (ill dig out the web site if you want). But how many of the old school carpenters developed cancer? Not sure. I do know that it is unpredictable.

I’m not saying people should play with fire / chemicals to make flash paper etc. There are to me far more dangerous aspects of these chemicals than the possibility that they might cause cancer. These other risks are much more quickly experienced – shall we say.

I need to try and be clear what I am saying – I don’t worry too much about “carcinogens” as so many things are carcinogenic (including nickel when it react with Oxygen can forms oxygen radicals that are ‘known’ to be involved in DNA manipulation resulting in cancer. Now nickel is common but the risk is low. May be this is why I am blaze. But as an analytical microbiologist and now teacher (science secondary – well retired for medical reasons – not injury related) I think there are much more likely accidents as a result of fire use than the risk of cancer.

The problem is fire is fascinating. I used a lot of demos that involve fire and explosion. BUT I am always very careful and follow the safety rules to a T. I know of people who have found old chemistry books – got the chemicals from a school lab and made explosives. One of these people lost a thumb and was lucky to lose only that.

I think there should be more emphasis on these other risks than the carcinogen aspect. Not that it is not a ‘risk’ but then everything is has an associated ‘risk’ if health and safety is taken to the extreme.

There is ONE thing I disagree with – fire extinguisher. Do NOT have a fire extinguisher available if you are using fire in your act. Have 2 and a fire blanket. IF there is a fire round the fire extinguisher and you can’t get to it, it is NO use! So don’t have 2 and put them next to each other!

ONE other thing: I love the effect of fire from hand (under different names including phoenix fire I think) that shoots a large flame from the empty hand. I have seen it advertised in the street magic sections of catalogues etc. I have a friend who has it and it is “simple” to use and if done so carefully it is quite safe. HOWEVER I am sure if you were use this in a walk round situation it cold become dangerous if there was a low sealing / porch on a shop etc. I don’t think people take this into consideration.

Fire is ‘perfectly safe’ in a set place when operated by those qualified to do so. But I am sure if they change venues there will be a repeat of safety checks / policies / procedures will be re-carried out. How many people who use fire from bare hand go and recy the places where they are going to perform? I hope all of them but I some how doubt it.

I really can believe the line “some of the people on these groups are going to get hurt” BUT I bet there are far more that have not read this group that will get hurt? The worst thing you can do it think “oh I can do that” and go and try it. There are lots of horror stories out here about people doing exactly that. The fire breather copied by a man who used X as a fuel and breather INTO the wind. An honourable mention on the Darwin site – I think he deserves one not sure if he got one.

Any way I have rambled enough.

To summarise. You don’t need to worry about certain chemicals / fuels being carcinogenic if you are going to act like a moron and try and make your own explosive flash paper etc. you are more likely to poison yourself or set yourself on fire first. You may not live long enough to worry about “premature death as a result of a cancerous growth”. IN fact the cancerous growth may not get a chance to start.

OH and on making flash paper. DON’T bother it is SO much cheaper to buy it! Even if you are going to ignore any safety equipment.

AND only use fresh flash paper. I found some that is a year or 2 old and under controlled conditions (in a glass bowl in the middle of the patio) burnt it up. It took AGES to burn away. Had I used it I would have at least melted a carpet or something worse.
Message: Posted by: CNYMagician (Aug 17, 2006 12:38PM)
Hello All! I just joined the forum specifically due to this thread. (If that gives you any idea how strongly I feel on the matter.)

I love fire effects as much as the next guy, and likely - more. I used to use flash pots and to do a lot of fire effects. I love "Fickle Fire" (Catching handfuls of fire from midair) and throwing flames from my fingertips. This stuff is flashy, and looks MAGICAL!

Note I said I USED to do these things. I have come to respect the dangers of working with fire, As a Theatre technician (My "Real" job) I have closely followed fire related accidents large and small up to and including the Station Night Club disaster. I have also followed and studied the laws related to the use of fire on stage.

In my Theatre, I rarely will allow any flame or pyro effects, and when I do (Even so much as a lit candle) there are several additional safety measures that must be taken. Fire is not to be taken lightly.

What I find appalling is the lack of respect for fire that most Magicians - particularly amateurs and (Part time pros" - exhibit. Nothing will make you look like an amateur more than going into a theatre and using fire effects without proper forethought and precaution.

In addition to safety precautions that you take, your client and host Venue MUST be informed that you plan to use fire effects, what those effects are, and what safety precautions you are taking. For an example of this, take a look at a section of Penn & Teller's Technical Rider:
http://tinyurl.com/cxaw3

Last year, I was working a Magicians' convention, and several performers used fire in their acts. NOT ONE checked with me first, or even informed me of their plans. One opened with a "Lit Torch to Cane", and the first I knew of it was when I saw the bright flames through the closed front curtain as he lit it! This was esspecially worrysome as it was in a banquet hall with only a 9' ceiling over him.

In the presceeding example, asside from the risk of fire, he could have easilly set off the sprinkler over his head, which in turn would have sey off the fire alarm - forcing the evacuation of our convention, another convention taking place at the same hotel, and all of the hotel guests! This would have given the entire convention a black eye. Every one of those performers that used fire without even checking with me or the rest of the staff lost a bit of respect due to this.

Fire effects CAN be used, but only if you are willing to jump through a lot of hoops. Fire is serious stuff!
Message: Posted by: Destiny (Aug 22, 2006 01:34AM)
I am going to make myself a checklist for doing fire work - only 30 years too late - and I've always been very cautious - but after reading all the good info here - I think it's the only way to go. I like the Penn and Teller idea of putting in writing to the venue exactly what will happen and what precautions are in place - Thanbks everyone
Message: Posted by: abrell (Sep 19, 2006 03:06PM)
Safety first! In Europe you must be a licensed pyrotechnic manufacturer,otherwise any production and altering of pyrotechnics is illegal and will be prosecuted as a crime. The warning not to produce pyrotechnics yourself nor to post any recipes is absolutely necessary. In Europe selling, buying and using pyrotechnics is restricted to licensed personal only. Using pyrotechnics or open fire in theatres or any other venues must be allowed and monitored by local authorities and fire department! If someone wants more information, have a look at the websites of pyrotechnic companys, they post the laws there.
Message: Posted by: SteveTheMagician (Dec 12, 2006 07:16PM)
Bill- VERY GOOD POINT! Thank you for making a point out of this.

As a fellow Rhode Islander, the Station Night Club fire hit very close to home. Someone I know was in that fire and though he walked out alive, it gave him 3rd degree internal burns down his throat. all from a small flame handeled incorrectly.

Also a good point on mixing chemicals. NEVER DO IT! Apart from being a magician, I'm also a security guard at Mohegan Sun Casino. A few years back a janitorial worker was working in the Sky Casino (one of the two there) and, being that she didn't read english very well, mixed to bottles of cleaning solution in hopes of making a better cleaning fluid. well, the end result was an amonia (sp?) gas cloud over the entire casino- which had to be evacuated! (no one got hurt, but I think she lost her job lol)

nothing too magical about that post, but it just goes to show you that you can never be too safe.

-Steve!
Message: Posted by: Sylver Fyre (Feb 16, 2007 01:50PM)
Bill Palmer, and many others that posted are correct.

Bottom line is follow the laws. If you book a gig and you plan on performing fire call the fire marshall Yourself. Do not rely on the venue. Many places are ignorant to the laws and saftey regulations that are involved with the use of fire (and even some shady places will try to bend laws or lie about contacting the marshall). As a professional fire performer I know this first hand.

Be responsible and do the leg work yourself. It will help your reputation with the area's law enforcers of where you perform.
Most marshalls are really easy to work with, as long as you communicate that saftey comes first and you are more then willing to cooperate and follow their instructions. They are not the bad guys, they are there to help and ensure the saftey of the public and you.

I also find it upsetting that many magician's don't feel the need to follow the same laws that fire performers do. I've seen and used a few fire magic tricks and some of them to me are actually less safe then eating fire or dancing with it.
If you are using ANY fire in your show, you are still held liable and are required to follow the laws of your city (whether it falls under light up permit regulations or pyrotechnics)

Some cities have bans because of performances gone wrong. The consequences of not following proper saftey procedures is immeasurable. Lives have been lost. So if you are a performer that doesn't respect your own saftey, think about those that are trusting you in the audience. Could you live with yourself if you ended up being responcible for someone elses death?

Sylver Fyre
Message: Posted by: Aidan (Apr 21, 2007 03:26AM)
Do you kids get the idea!!! I’m talking to you others too, who are still a kid at heart and should really know better!

There’s A LOT of experience in the above posts and every one of them have truly been fortunate enough to be here today to relate it. I know because I’m one of them!

Beginning at a young age myself, my first experiences were with paper roll caps and firecrackers that are now both no longer available in this country! Why? Because they were extremely dangerous! As a kid, Dad even gave us bits of dynamite to “go play with”!!! Why? Because it was extremely dangerous!!! I learned from a young age a GREAT respect for such things. It also aroused a great curiosity that was satisfied with knowledge and experience and ALWAYS with great respect!!!

Today, I do use a fluff of cotton or a bit of paper, and it still scares the heck out of me. Yes, I know it’s safer than gasoline, black powder and a lot of other stuff. But my fears are based from my own deep respect for this stuff and those people nearby. Some people are disappointed in my lack of “flash” sometimes, but I don’t bring it out unless I know the necessary measures are in place close at hand. And this includes my use of this stuff outdoors as well!!! Two extinguishers, water, blankets… that’s minimum for me! I like having someone who knows what’s going to happen nearby as well… or should I say someone who knows what might happen! Am I pessimistic? NO! I’m considerate!

I too have dabbled with chemistry, dynamics, and even ballistics. Much of which is no longer openly available today, thank goodness. With the lack of considerations so prevalent today, it’s understandable that there is even less respect!!!

Not counting my childhood, I still have over 40 years of knowledge and experience that I wouldn’t dare share with ANYONE today. Why?
BECAUSE IT’S EXTREAMLY DANGEROUS!!! I KNOW!!! I’VE BEEN THERE!!! I’VE DONE THAT!!!

And I too, am one of the fortunate few… more so than some!
Message: Posted by: WagsterMagic (Apr 27, 2007 03:36PM)
I learned the hard way too. I had flash paper and sparkle add. go off in my hand! At the beginning of the show. I had a burn through my whole show. I have learned to be very cautious now.

Best
Brandon
Message: Posted by: shoostergoogle (Jun 25, 2007 08:58PM)
Where did all of this come from lol I agree on the topic of fire safety but did something happen to someone to spark this random rant
Message: Posted by: aquamage (Jul 24, 2007 02:42PM)
I agree with many of the above posters as well. I am a full-time professional magician and fire-eater. I was trained by experts and I have been working with fire and pyrotecnics for over 20 years. I have been burned, singed, scarred and almost blinded. I am very careful, always take precautions, and still things can go wrong. So to those thinking about using any form of fire: sooner or later something will happen. This is not pessimism, or a negative comment on you or your skills. Sooner or later SOMETHING will go wrong. Guaranteed. I am not saying that you should or should'nt use fire. That is your personal choice. But, if you do, learn all you can about it....listen to all the REALLY good advice in this thread....follow ALL local laws...and have good medical and liability insurance.
Message: Posted by: John Iacono (Sep 28, 2007 11:10AM)
[quote]
On 2005-02-21 03:43, Lee Darrow wrote:
Bottom line: Check with the LOCAL Fire Marshall AND your State Fire Marshall for the rules for the use of fire in performance. Then FOLLOW THEM TO THE LETTER! Also ALWAYS have fire fighting equipment of some kind WITH you and within reach when you perform.

Period.

Doing anything other than that is, in many jurisdictions, asking for hefty fines and possible jail time, loss of your props and real problems with insurance companies.

Yes, it's a pain in the fundamental body parts, but following the law and the rules of safety beats the pogees out of the alternatives. Ask anyone who survived that Great White gig in Rhode Island.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
[/quote]
Not only have a fire extinguisher, have the correct one.

Do not use a CO2 base fire extinguisher to try to put out pyrotechnic compounds that contain oxidizers, it will not work. These types of compounds generate their own oxygen. The only way to put out a compound that contains an oxidizer is with water.

When eating fire, you would wan to have a CO2 fire extinguisher
Message: Posted by: John Iacono (Sep 28, 2007 11:39AM)
To put thing into perspective regarding the danger of pyrotechnics, I have been a licensed commercial pyrotechnic operator in ca. for over 20 years. One of the pyrotechnicians I know in N. Cal. Shots the fireworks at a local Air Force base on July fourth, the base C.O. sends out the explosive ordinance team to help with the show, this is something the EOD does not like to do, the reason is because pyrotechnics do not require a detonator to function. The EOD team would rather work with high explosives because the do require a detonator in order to function, this make then safer to handle.

Accidents do happen even for the pros. July fourth 1997, I was doing a show for one of the cities on N. Cal. I lit the fuse to a 6 inch mortar shell, the shell detonated in the steel mortar cutting the mortar in half and also cutting the 8’ X 2’ X 2’ box of sand in half. I was sander two feet from the mortar when this occurred, the fuses we use burn 300 feet per second and or only 3 feet long. The fire dept thought I was dead, but I walk out of the smoke without a scratch on me. I have been told I am the only person to walk away from such an accident. On of my helpers was knocked, and she was twenty feet behind be.

I was real lucky that day, I walk away unhurt and I was flying to FISM the next morning my helper was back on her feet in just a few minutes.
On a side note the heat form the explosion corrected my helpers vision, she no longer needs glasses.
Message: Posted by: dave_matkin (Oct 7, 2007 03:59PM)
[quote]
On 2007-06-25 21:58, shoostergoogle wrote:
Where did all of this come from lol I agree on the topic of fire safety but did something happen to someone to spark this random rant
[/quote]

if you go back to the FIRST post you will see that it is becuase of people posting in appropriate info on the forum - and I notice that no one has contradcited his ideas (at least openly!) and eveyone pretty much agrees. I guess that means there are just a few otehr peolpe who disagree and are quite happy to post things like "i use weak tea as my fuel for fire eating" and "firs is not at all dangerouse .... in fac I regulary flomaby mself in gasoline whilst dringnking pure rocket fuel".

But the "Rant" as you call it was completly appropriate to remind people of the rles of the forum and to try and get people back on track as it were.
Message: Posted by: DJBrenton (Dec 22, 2007 06:44PM)
The untrained use of fire really scares me, and indeed many other untrained performances. One time I had to almost physically stop a dancer using lighter fluid for fire breathing. It's what they thought fire breathers used!! Another time an angle grinder (his forst time) in a nightclub ( you use an angle grinder on pieces of metal attached to your body to create sparks) cut his finger off as he was using a cutting blade instead of a grinding blade. All because they were copying what they thought they'd seen me do/use at previous performances and hadn't bothered to ask for training.
Message: Posted by: "Muggs" (Jan 27, 2008 08:45PM)
I was reading Bills post and all the others in MCF - A Great Matter of Concern. Just wanted to say WELL DONE! It should be repeated over and over because unfortunately most performers don't pay enough attention to this. As a police detective with both arson and post blast explosive training, I am also exposed to the negative side of things when "things go wrong" and a lot of performers, as well as most lay people have no idea how quickly and how bad that things can go wrong when safety concerns aren't put in place and sometimes, unfortunately, even when they are. Lets hope as many performers as possible read this thread and pay attention to the warning. If it were up to me, it would be required reading before being able to enter this and other dangerous topics.
Message: Posted by: ed rhodes (Mar 15, 2008 09:54AM)
[quote]
On 2005-09-13 03:03, Bill Palmer wrote:
I just got a PM from a fellow who disagrees with me completely. I won't post his name, because he hasn't posted anything to the list. But he mentions that fire and flash translates into cash. Maybe so. But the fellows in Vegas who use pyro have licensed technicians to cover the applications. The fire rules in Vegas are also fairly strict.

He quoted Siegfried and Roy using fire. I guess he hadn't heard about the accident.

The most telling line of his PM to me was this:
[quote]
In my opinion we have free will decide to use fire and learn to use it right. Forum shmorum what does it matter if idots cause fires ?
[/quote]

Yes, we do have free will. But we also have laws. And if you break the law, you will pay a fine or do some time. If you destroy your own property or injure yourself when you illegally use fire, then you have a different situation. You won't be able to collect on your insurance, for one thing. Think about this, the next time you "light up."

BTW, I learned this the hard way.
[/quote]

"What does it matter if idots (sic) cause fires?" Ask my wife, she works at RI Hospital and they're still getting patients from the Station night club fire coming by for therapy! (I quoted your entire message so no one might jump to the conclusion that the "idots" quote was actually _from_ you!

My wife can also comment on the flash paper comments on this thread. She was doing a Shakespere play, can't remember the title, but the company had made _major_ changes, the director changed Willie's "priest" to a "voo doo priestess!" They decided it would be cool if she could shoot flash paper, so she borrowed my shooter. Dern fool kept it in a pouch she wore along with the entire stock of flash paper!!! Yep, the shooter went off during a production and caught the paper. I don't know why but all that happened was that the bag filled with smoke and the flash paper had to be replaced. God looks out for drunks and fools and my wife don't drink.
Message: Posted by: Cyberqat (Aug 19, 2008 12:02PM)
[quote]
On 2005-09-13 03:03, Bill Palmer wrote:
I just got a PM from a fellow who disagrees with me completely.

.. snip ..

The most telling line of his PM to me was this:
[quote]
In my opinion we have free will decide to use fire and learn to use it right. Forum shmorum what does it matter if idots cause fires ?
[/quote]

[/quote]

Because fires kill more then the idiots who cause them.

I lived for 15 years in California where forest fires started by idiots regularly kill people, destroy their homes and everything in them, and generally wreck lives.


There are two kinds of fire practitioners. Those who know enough to always be afraid of the genii they are letting out of the bottle, and those destined to be statistics. Your PMer unfortunately sounds like the latter. I just hope s/he doesn't take anyone else with him/her when they meet their destiny. (I also wonder at his/her age because s/he sure doesn't sound like s/he has the emotional maturity yet to handle such potential dangers. )

Fire is a wonderful;, magical thing. Its power entrances people. But its power can also kill people. Never forget that.
Message: Posted by: Cyberqat (Aug 19, 2008 12:07PM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-15 10:54, ed rhodes wrote:
[They decided it would be cool if she could shoot flash paper, so she borrowed my shooter. Dern fool kept it in a pouch she wore along with the entire stock of flash paper!!! Yep, the shooter went off during a production and caught the paper. I don't know why but all that happened was that the bag filled with smoke and the flash paper had to be replaced. God looks out for drunks and fools and my wife don't drink.
[/quote]

When I was in highschool I had a palmable electric shooter. (Yeah I know, at that age its questionable, I admit.) I'd carry it loaded in my pocket sometimes. One day I thoughtlessly put it in my pocket with my keys and forgot about it. A few hours later one of the keys bridge the contents on the switch and it went off in my pocket. I was lucky and got away with a hole in my pocket and a blister on my leg.

I am now 45 and ALL my combustible props and chemicals live in this when I'm not actively performing:

http://www.officemax.com/omax/catalog/product.jsp?id=ARS20688&fromProductListing=true&history=fq03md2p|freeText~Fire+chest^region~1^prodPage~10&searchString=Fire%20chest&category_Id=null
Message: Posted by: hocuspocusjay23 (Dec 29, 2008 05:40PM)
These are great posts. Even the smallest of fires can get out of hand quick. Even a dove pan these days can teach smaller children that playing with fire is ok. Children copy what they see, and I have taken fire out of my act.
Message: Posted by: hocuspocusjay23 (Dec 29, 2008 05:41PM)
These are great posts. Even the smallest of fires can get out of hand quick. Even a dove pan these days can teach smaller children that playing with fire is ok. Children copy what they see, and I have taken fire out of my act.
Message: Posted by: Donnie Buckley (May 15, 2009 04:23PM)
Flash cotton can ignite in a hot car. A couple of years ago I had a fire break out in a case of practice equipment I was travelling with. Fortunately the case was a very heavy wooden tool chest and the fire was contained in a trap that is built in the lid. The fire was smothered by the case, but the silks, thread reels and manipulating b balls were ruined.
All it took was a hot summer day in a car.
Message: Posted by: tabman (Jun 3, 2009 11:25AM)
When I was working for Kozak I decided to get a Pyro license
from the ATF because we were using so much fire.

In Pittsburgh, the fire dept forced us to hire two firemen to be
on site, one on each side of the stage dressed in boots, jacket
and cover. That's when Koz dropped the fire and went to confetti.
It amounted to extortion IMO.

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: meekomagic (Jun 10, 2009 08:31PM)
It may be a good idea to omit some of the fire effects in your act due to the growing amount venues that don't allow fire..........
Message: Posted by: Stucky (Oct 11, 2009 06:06PM)
[quote]
On 2006-12-12 20:16, SteveTheMagician wrote:
all from a small flame handeled incorrectly.[/quote]

It was more than a small flame. It was the idiots who put the spark shooters next to the egg shell foam that the club thought would be a good idea to use as sound proofing.

That whole incident could have been avoided in many ways, not just by the band but the club as well.

[quote]
On 2007-07-24 15:42, aquamage wrote:Sooner or later SOMETHING will go wrong.[/quote]

The longer you do something stupid, the greater chance something stupid will happen to you.
Message: Posted by: jazzy snazzy (Nov 23, 2009 06:40PM)
Folks still get very emotional here about that event.
Seems like everybody knows somebody who was affected. My next door neighbor lost his girlfriend. It was a perfect storm of arrogance, incompetance stupidity and greed.

Live performances in small clubs really took a hit because of it. Now, with the bad economy, most bands here are working for the door. At least they are no longer allowed to set up in front of the fire exit.

As performers, we must BE AWARE of the surroundings and working conditions at all times. If you see a potential safety issue, take steps to avoid it. It won't kill your act. We are the hired pros. The audience is there to party. Club owners don't care.

Nobody wants something like the Station fire on their resume.
Message: Posted by: jazzy snazzy (Dec 5, 2009 07:00AM)
...and so it goes.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/firework-blaze-in-russia-nightclub-kills-at-least-103-1834717.html
Message: Posted by: George Ainscough (Jul 14, 2010 03:17PM)
Bill is right, I know how to make flash paper and powder, but I never have, for a good reason. I do make some stuff, like flash paper devices, which can mostly be made without problem (unless you are stupid and seal the tube at both ends)

Serious incidents I know about

1. titanium tetrachloride smoke bombs, smoke from this is VERY pure hydrochloric acid mist, went to hospital with acid burns all over

2. Homemade flash pot, flash pot broke when was used with conncussion powder, shrapnel, BIG TIME

3. nitrogen triodide, exploded in hand under own weight (it is very sensitive) OUCH

4. Guy who makes Black Powder for a living had no saltpeter, so used Pottasium Chlorate, spontaneous combustion

5. Guy made Acetone Peroxide (high explosive, used to be used in detonators but too unstable) JUST FOR A CHANGE and blew his fingertip off. (This guy is now in prison)

These people are all people who I know of forums or friends on forums have told me about, they are all fairly clever but had a moment of sheer stupidity.
Message: Posted by: Pat Perry (Oct 8, 2010 04:28AM)
Sometimes it needs just a small incident to make you think: In a Close Up performance I lit a little piece of pyro cotton and throwed it into the air. Unfortunately my hands were wet and the cotton ball didn't burn so fast. So it landed on the lab of a spectator. I was lucky, beside the fear and unplesend situation nobody was harmed.But for me it was a healing shock. Ever since I think twice about playing around with fire.
Message: Posted by: Der Magier (Nov 18, 2010 03:37PM)
If anyone doesn't belive it, just google pyrotechnic accidents. Quite a few experts (experts mind you!) die from this stuff every year. If they can, odds are you WILL.
Message: Posted by: NaathanPhan (Sep 24, 2011 02:33PM)
Thank you, Bill. It definitely needed to be said--er--posted.
Message: Posted by: DoctorCognos (Jan 24, 2012 10:46PM)
When I first started with magic, I used fire all of the time, everywhere..Then the reality of struck me. Not becuase of a fire I started, but because of reports of things like the nightclub fire and others that just showed me how dangerous fire can be. My avatar on here as BroDavid, used to show me with two fickle fires.

So for a lot of stuff inside, rather than flash or a shooter, I use Fism Flash, and other than flash card for my business card, I only use fire outside, preverably at night so I can get better effect with less fire. I often use two of Jim Pace's flame throwers, one on each arm. A shooter or two, and my trusty, and safe Fism Flash that becomes even more effective in teh dark of night. And I always have someone with me, who knows my act, and knows that I am on fire, or anyone else, that isn't part of the act, he holds a fire extinguisher ready. What I used to try to do with fire, I now try to do with light. Fsim Flash, Dlights, and Meteor at night are awsome, effective, electronic and safe.

Maybe it is maturing in the arts, or just common sense, but between the rules, and the obvious safety issues, fire inside is not really a very good idea any more. And if you absolutely need fire to entertain, turn in your magicians card, and pick up a selfish daredevil card, beacause that is what you have become.

Obviously this is just my opinion, and I realize that not everyone agrees. But so be it. Just don't be stupid with it.

The Doctor
Message: Posted by: Midnight333 (Jul 10, 2012 09:27AM)
All good thoughts. I've added fire eating and swinging fire poi to my outdoor shows. I get burned a bit almost every time. IF this happens to you (God forbid) I suggest for your consideration the following:
Even after my disclaimer to the children and the ADULTS. If (read "when") I get burned, I finish the routine (providing I'm not too seriously hurt but you may well know minor burns are to be expected) I make a point to show everyone, especially the kids, my fresh burn. I tell them, "You see I'm a professional and even I get hurt. Do not play with fire, kids. It's not IF you get burned, it's WHEN you get burned and it does hurt."

Just my way of hammering a safety message and turning an unfortunate instance into a positive event.

For your consideration.