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Bill Palmer
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Eternal Order
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Profile of Bill Palmer
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.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

Rupert Bair
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Inner circle
2122 Posts

Profile of Rupert Bair
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
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Toronto, Canada
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Profile of Devoted
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.
Looked up, there it was, gone
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Profile of Regan
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,

Mister Mystery
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207 Posts

Profile of silking
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 !

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Profile of Partizan
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!
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
Clifford the Red
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LA, California
1935 Posts

Profile of Clifford the Red
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.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
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Profile of Darkwing
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.
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Profile of bitterman
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.?
If you are not cheating, you are only cheating yourself.

Dutchco is about to put out some new Ebook: DUTCHCO. Get 'em while you can.
James Watkins
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Profile of James Watkins
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.

Lee Darrow
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Chicago, IL USA
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Profile of Lee Darrow
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.


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.
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
Nick Wait
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Lichfield, UK
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Profile of Nick Wait
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.
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Toronto, Canada
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Profile of BalukMagic
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?)

Harley Newman
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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.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Profile of sclitsome
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.
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Profile of mxmln
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.

Bill Palmer
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Profile of Bill Palmer
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:
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 ?

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.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Profile of B.K.Pal
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.
Sincerely Yours,....PAL
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Profile of R_B_C
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!
"If you can't convince them, confuse them." -Harry S. Truman
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Profile of kaytracy
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!
Kay and Tory
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