Blowing Sh*t Up For Fun And Profit

For those of you who don’t know it, I like fire. All kinds of fire. Flamethrowers, road flares, Bic lighters, candles, fully engulfed oceangoing oil tankers, the sun.

Of all forms of fire, I think I love fireworks the very best. How can such small things contain such massive amounts of fiery goodness? One word. Chemicals. I love chemicals! Ok, back to fireworks. I have had a serious obsession with fireworks since I was a wee lad in short pants. My earliest memory must be from the womb when mom went to a firework show at Griffith park. I remember it like the day…

Last year a friend (who really likes espresso) suggested to me that I earn my pyrotechnician’s license. I thought this was a magnificent idea! He brought it up again last month and I went ahead and registered.

I went to my first class today and I’m going to ace this thing. We spent the day focusing on safety for the crew, crowd, and ground based flammable objects other than flammable people. We were regaled with stories of people who, for one reason or another, were made to pay the stupid tax. Some of them were good enough to pay their own while others made bystanders pay it for them (the slimy bastards!)…

Ok, enough with the words. Y’all know how much little Foxfur loves him some photos, so, let’s get on with it!

Look! It’s a buffet!

A canister shell, triple-break shell, 2 inch through 12 inch round shells, electric matches, salutes (LOUD bangs), mines, and tools.

Whoops!

Mortars are the tubes used to launch the shells and are usually buried up to their necks in the ground or in sand filled boxes. When you hear the “Thump!” and see a dim trail of sparks heading upwards, it’s a shell that came from a mortar. The cylindrical base under the ball is filled with black powder, coarse grains unlike sporting powder, and functions in the mortar tube just like a cannon launching a cannon ball. Most of the time the shell goes up, goes bang, and the crowd goes “Ooh!”, “Ahh!”, or “Wheeeeee!”. In this instance the crowd probably went “WTF???”. The shell burst prematurely in the tube and kind of blew it to hell. I say kind of because that while it is obviously trashed, 95% of the tube is still there though not where it was when manufactured. The tube is made of HDPE which does not shatter or splinter. Instead, it deforms and largely stays intact preventing the nice fireworks man from being perforated and being made terribly unhappy.

A bank of three 5 inch mortar tubes.

The Foxfur shell… Swells until it bursts in a cloud of yay!

12 inch aerial fireworks shellI’m thinking of adopting! A fine example of a 12 inch aerial shell. The pattern (burst) is a bit over 500 feet in diameter.

Oh that silly Foxfur!

The next two classes will involve live firing of shells. After that I’ll be firing a show at a major northwest sporting event and one at a firefighting training facility. I’ll give them some good practice…

I’ve been told that I’ll be given a place on a team of pyrotechnicians at Burning Man 2012 to work on some major fireworks shows this year. This would be a true honor and privilege and would be one of the highlights of my burn. As goofy as I come off, you can bet your last dollar that I’m dead serious about safety, hard work, and attention to detail. If I’m going to put my name to something, I’m gonna do it right.

Updates to come…

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