Pyrotechnician

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Pyrotechnic Engineer

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Practical or MechanicalArtistic or CreativeAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 1Skill Level 2


Pyrotechnicians are highly specialized professions who are responsible for managing, handling, securing, storing and activating a variety of pyrotechnics [explosives ] and pyrotechnic devices.

Although many individuals associate pyrotechnics with the entertainment field, such as concerts or other shows, it can also be used interchangeably with those who work with explosive materials for a living.

FutureGrowthModeratePyrotechnicians devise and orchestrate effects involving fire and explosives, and build the electronic devices used to create those effects. Examples of pyrotechnic effects include blowing up a building or vehicle, burning down a building, setting a person on fire, creating smoke effects, or staging fireworks.


Many Pyrotechnicians may also specialize in a variety of industries including the mining industry, or military.

ANZSCO ID: 399999

Specialisations: Display Operators who work for entertainment displays such as fireworks, Stunt work, Movie industry.

There are two main types of pyrotechnicians: fireworks and special effects. Fireworks pyrotechnicians create beautiful fireworks displays at theme parks, county fairs and other special events. Special effects pyrotechnicians work for film and television productions and theme parks to create fire, explosion, sound and shooting effects.

Alternative names: Display Operator, Pyrotechnics Operator,

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • This job may be ideal for those who work well with their hands and can work quickly.
  • Individuals who work in this profession will need to be reliable and are required to handle and safely store explosives.
  • A pyrotechnician needs knowledge of the laws of physics and should be computer-savvy, as pyrotechnic patterns are typically controlled by a computer.
  •  having attention to detail
  • A confidence when handling explosives
  • Having an artistic eye is also helpful in this profession.
  • They need to know state and local laws that apply to this field and must follow strict safety procedures.

Sydney Harbour NYE 2018
(Source: The West)


Duties and Tasks

  • Meet with the clients to define exactly what they want, the context, deliverables, and risks.
  • Design and communicate with the client to create a class leading plan.
  • Embrace all aspects of the company QA and risk planning.
  • Deliver the project in a timely and professional way and always focusing on quality and safety.
  • Orders materials and equipment
  • Safely setting up explosives and explosive material
  • Setting up explosive equipment used to detonate
  • Detonate explosives relying on cues from colleagues and other Pyrotechnicians
  • Pyrotechnicians must set up equipment and explosives in a way that prevents accidents or fires.
  • They must be well aware of their environment and assure there are no obstacles or individuals close to where explosive material is exposed or held safely.
  • Continue communication with the client during and post event to ensure full satisfaction and to capture and incorporate any learning opportunities, feedback or innovations that might improve future events.

Working conditions

These elements may last just a few seconds but preparing highly controlled explosions is by necessity a careful, meticulous process. It’s also potentially dangerous, as one procedural lapse can cause serious long-term injuries or permanent disabilities, including burns, loss of hearing or eyesight, and loss of digits or limbs.

Fuels, oxidizers and reactants are combined to create five different types of pyrotechnic reactions: heat, light, sound, smoke and delay.

Pyrotechnicians must know what combination of substances creates each reaction, and how much of each substance will create the desired reaction size. They must also be adept at handling tools of the trade, including:

Flash pots: Containers built to hold pyrotechnic powder.
Mortar hits: Devices that create a bright, rolling ball of smoke and flame when ignited.
Gerbs: Fireworks that produce a stream of sparks lasting up to a minute.

Musicians on stage
(Source: Blasopyrotechnics)

 

Tools and technologies

A pyrotechnician needs knowledge of the laws of physics and should be computer-savvy, as pyrotechnic patterns are typically controlled by a computer.

Fireworks pyrotechnicians primarily produce outdoor firework shows. As this type of pyrotechnician you use ordinary tools in different ways. Common tools include aluminum foil, duct or masking tape, end cutters, a claw hammer and a flashlight. Some tools, such as a hard hat, shovel and plastic bucket, you are required by law to have at every show. Hard hats and safety glasses are used for protection while shovels and plastic buckets are used to dispose of duds and clean up after the show. Other necessary tools include bailing wire, sand, duplex nails and zip wire. Road flares are used to light fuses during a hand fire display or as a backup in case your electrical firing system malfunctions.

Building a Firing System

Whether you are a pyrotechnician working a fireworks display for a holiday beach party, or creating a fireball for a movie set, you need a firing system. Your firing system is how you set off pyrotechnics from a safe distance. Each firing system is unique to the pyrotechnician and the requirements of the show. Your firing system is a grouping of paper or plastic canisters, fuses, gunpowder and electrical or hand-fired fuses. Electrical fuses can be triggered from a laptop or when a switch is flipped. Most electrical firing systems require at least a 24-volt battery to work correctly.

Special Effects Pyrotechnician Tools

As a special effects pyrotechnician you need more equipment than a fireworks technician. Your job may be to start fires, create explosions and make it look as if actors have been shot while keeping the set safe for actors and crew members. Additional specialty tools include burn gel, squibs filled with fake blood for gunshot effects, blanks for prop guns, flash powder, flash paper, smokeless powder and sparkle pots. A laptop may also be necessary to cue firing mechanisms electronically and fire extinguishers to help keep the everyone on set safe.


Education and training/entrance requirements

Individuals who want to become a Pyrotechnician will need a combination of personal characteristics, experience in the field and educational requirements to enter this profession.

Exact requirements to become a Pyrotechnician will depend on the state an individual chooses to work in.

For the most part, individuals must have a high school diploma, gain on the job experience and become licensed in order to enter this profession.

Some states also require individuals entering this profession to be a minimum of 18 years old, while some states require candidates to be at least 21 years old, especially for individuals seeking opportunities in management.

Individuals who want to become a Pyrotechnician can gain on the job experience by completing an apprenticeship that last approximately 1 to 3 years. This type of training is typical for Pyrotechnicians who work as Display Operators. Under an apprenticeship, an individual will work as an entry level professional who will learn their trade by being supervised by a more experienced professional.

Trainees also participate in several shows in order to prove their competency.

Did You Know?

31 December 2021 - SMH

Six tonnes of fireworks shot into the sky over the harbour across the 9pm and midnight displays.

As the new year began, electronic music duo The Presets provided a12-minute soundtrack to the spectacular display. Fireworks created a waterfall effect off the Sydney Harbour Bridge while projections were displayed on the pylons.

More fireworks were shot from the Opera House than ever before as a colourful display with bursts of neon, pastel and spinning fireworks blasted into the sky.
(Source: SMH)

Fireworks
Fireworks Sydney 2021 - NYE
(Source: Independent.ie)

 

Pyrotechnic Engineer
Leisure and Entertainment

Practical or MechanicalAnalytic or ScientificSkill Level 5

Pyrotechnic engineers are a type of chemical engineer that works with explosives to test, prepare for and design fireworks and/or fire displays. They need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and may be required to earn a license.

Pyrotechnic engineers work with explosives and reactive chemicals to organize displays of fire and fireworks. Their jobs rely on an extensive knowledge of how certain compounds react with other inputs in order to design and produce fireworks and pyrotechnic displays for sports arenas, concert venues or special effects in movies and television. They must have extensive knowledge of both chemistry and physics to accurately determine and control how a reaction will occur. The requirements of pyrotechnic engineers vary depending on the position they have and the state where they work. FutureGrowthModerate

Safety is an extremely important part of a pyrotechnic engineer's job. The sensitive nature of pyrotechnic displays requires an engineer to be especially cautious about ensuring that every explosion is well-planned and monitored.

ANZSCO ID: 233111
  

Knowledge, skills and attributes

Pyrotechnic engineers need a wide breadth of knowledge to understand the complex nature of how different compounds react with each other.

The requirements for pyrotechnic engineers vary depending on the company they work for, the duties required of them and the state they live in. Every state has its own licensing regulations for pyrotechnic engineers, but most involve passing a written exam and displaying proof of education as well as a clean criminal background.

Fireworks Colours
(Source: Compound Interest)
Click here for a larger copy



Duties and Tasks

The position of a pyrotechnic engineer revolves around putting a working knowledge of science and math into effect by designing precisely timed explosions. They deal with many aspects of making these explosions happen, from testing the materials to making precise measurements and calculating each chemical compound.

If they are working for a manufacturer of fireworks, they must know how to artificially produce colors and different visual effects. Working for concerts or sporting arenas requires an engineer to have their display timed to coordinate perfectly with the music or the sporting action.

Safety is an extremely important part of a pyrotechnic engineer's job. The sensitive nature of pyrotechnic displays requires an engineer to be especially cautious about ensuring that every explosion is well-planned and monitored.

Their jobs rely on an extensive knowledge of how certain compounds react with other inputs in order to design and produce fireworks and pyrotechnic displays for sports arenas, concert venues or special effects in movies and television. They must have extensive knowledge of both chemistry and physics to accurately determine and control how a reaction will occur. The requirements of pyrotechnic engineers vary depending on the position they have and the state where they work.


Working conditions

Because of the entertainment-based nature of the role, pyrotechnic engineers can work in a host of intriguing settings. Those who specialize in creating fireworks displays can work in a wide range of entertaining spaces. Theme parks, resorts and outdoor stadiums are all possibilities.

For those who specialize in controlled explosions, work environments often encompass movie and television sets. This can include on-location settings, which means pyrotechnic engineers may be called on to travel to different outdoor environments to build and execute pyrotechnic designs.


Tools and technologies

The element that pyrotechnic engineers must prioritize is safety. They are responsible for safely handling and storing pyrotechnics before use. It’s also crucial to have safety equipment on every pyrotechnic site. These include such things as hard hats and safety glasses to protect workers, fire extinguishers and flame retardants in case of accidents, and plastic buckets and shovels for post-show cleanup and to dispose of unexploded pyrotechnics (duds).


Education and training/entrance requirements

A pyrotechnic engineer would start with an undergraduate degree in chemistry or physics, and pursue further training in pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics engineers might work for firework companies or sporting arenas. Because safety is a factor in their work, some states require a licensing exam. There are no formal education programs at large universities for pyrotechnic engineers, so candidates must be self-motivated to form an education path that gives them the knowledge they will need.

Chemistry programs are absolutely crucial for pyrotechnic engineers to learn the many reactions that take place between chemicals. Knowledge of physics will give engineers the ability to predict the effect of their explosions and the trajectory of the flame.

In addition to an education in chemistry and physics, pyrotechnic engineers need training that is specific to creating fireworks. Many firework display companies offer training programs that teach pyrotechnic safety, designing and firing; these programs also prepare an individual to earn a Certified Display Operator title if they wish to actually perform, rather than just design, fireworks shows.


 

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Materials sourced from
Fireworks Australia [Company Profile/Mission; ]
Become opedia [Pyrotechnician; ]
Youth Central [Pyrotechnician; ]
Careers State University [Pyrotechnician; ]
Work Chron. [Pyrotechnician tools; ]
Best Accrediated Colleges [Pyrotechnic Engineer; ]
Engineering Online UCR [Pyrotechnic Engineer; ]

Your Career [Technician & Trades Worker; ]

 

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