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EsnRedshirt
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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.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
Nyte Dragon
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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!
harris
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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
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
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Lee Darrow
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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.
http://www.leedarrow.com
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Mr. Darrow,

Thanks for posting on the reality of this issue.

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
dave_matkin
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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.
Dave “SPARKY” Matkin

http://www.gofundme.com/MyMadTriathlon

Now AKA........
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That’s the closest smilies to a wheelchair so I’m using them despite not having a horse ….. or being able to do the walking globe. Mmmmm can you do a walking globe in a wheelchair?
CNYMagician
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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!
Bruce Purdy
"Spreading laughter & wonder - one miracle at a time"
http://www.cnymagic.com
Destiny
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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
abrell
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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.
SteveTheMagician
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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!
Sylver Fyre
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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
Sylver Fyre

"Do not warm yourself by the fire, become the flame"
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Aidan
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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!
Integrity is all that is truly yours, everything else, can be taken from you in an instant!
WagsterMagic
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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
The Wagsters: World Class Magic & Illusion
www.wagstermagic.com
shoostergoogle
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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
aquamage
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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.
John Iacono
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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.

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
John Iacono
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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.
dave_matkin
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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


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.
Dave “SPARKY” Matkin

http://www.gofundme.com/MyMadTriathlon

Now AKA........
Smile “WHEELS” Smile
That’s the closest smilies to a wheelchair so I’m using them despite not having a horse ….. or being able to do the walking globe. Mmmmm can you do a walking globe in a wheelchair?
DJBrenton
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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.
"Muggs"
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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.
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