Pyrotechnician

Pyrotechnician article illustration

Description

Pyrotechnicians control the pyrotechnical elements of a performance based on the artistic or creative concept, in interaction with the performers. Their work is influenced by and influences the results of other operators. Therefore, the operators work closely together with the designers, operators and performers. Pyrotechnicians prepare the pyrotechnics, supervise the setup, steer the technical crew, program the equipment and operate the pyro system. The use of explosive and combustible material close to performers and audience makes this a high risk occupation.

Pyrotechnicians typically do the following tasks:

  • Collaborate with event organizers, producers, and creative teams to understand the desired pyrotechnic effects and design concepts for the event or performance.
  • Conduct thorough research and planning to determine the appropriate types and quantities of fireworks and special effects needed for the display.
  • Safely handle and store pyrotechnic materials, ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
  • Set up and install pyrotechnic equipment and firing systems, following strict safety protocols and guidelines.
  • Perform safety checks on all pyrotechnic equipment and firing mechanisms before each display.
  • Rig and wire pyrotechnic effects in a manner that ensures optimal timing and synchronization with the event or performance.
  • Coordinate with the event production team and technicians to integrate pyrotechnic effects seamlessly into the overall production.
  • Conduct rehearsals and run-throughs of the pyrotechnic effects to ensure proper timing and execution.
  • Monitor weather conditions and make adjustments to the pyrotechnic display plan as necessary to ensure safety.
  • Operate the firing system and cue the pyrotechnic effects during live shows or performances with precision and timing.
  • Ensure the safe dismantling and removal of pyrotechnic equipment and materials after each display.
  • Maintain accurate records of pyrotechnic inventory, expenses, and safety procedures.
  • Stay up to date with industry trends, safety regulations, and new pyrotechnic technologies through ongoing training and professional development.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to pyrotechnician:

pyrotechnics specialist
fireworks handler
pyrotechnist
fireworks operator
master pyrotechnician
fireworks technician
pyrotechnics operator
fireworks specialist

Working conditions

Pyrotechnicians work in various environments depending on the nature of the event or performance. They may work outdoors, in arenas, theaters, concert venues, or other live event spaces. The work can involve irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays, as pyrotechnic displays are often part of entertainment events. The role requires working in potentially hazardous conditions, as pyrotechnics involve explosives and fire. Safety measures must be strictly followed to minimize risks. Pyrotechnicians must be physically fit and able to work in demanding environments, sometimes requiring climbing, lifting heavy equipment, and standing for long periods. They must also be comfortable working at heights, as pyrotechnic displays often involve rooftop setups or elevated positions.

Minimum qualifications

There are no specific educational requirements to become a pyrotechnician, but formal training in pyrotechnics and special effects is highly recommended. Many pyrotechnicians gain practical experience through apprenticeships, internships, or working under experienced professionals in the field. They should have a thorough understanding of pyrotechnic safety practices, regulations, and guidelines. Some countries or regions may require licensing or certification to handle and discharge fireworks or pyrotechnic effects. Excellent knowledge of pyrotechnic materials, equipment, and firing systems is necessary. Strong attention to detail, technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and the ability to work in a team are crucial for success in this role.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Pyrotechnician is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Pyrotechnician career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to pyrotechnician.

stage manager
head of workshop
scenic painter
flying director
followspot operator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of pyrotechnician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of pyrotechnician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

mask maker
technical director
front of house manager
video designer
puppet designer

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of pyrotechnician.

  • Test pyrotechnical effects: Test pyrotechnical effects before a performance to make sure they work smoothly and safely.
  • Manage consumables stock: Manage and monitor consumables stock to ensure that the production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Manage technical resources stock: Manage and monitor technical resources stock to ensure that production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Plan pyrotechnical effects: Plan the pyrotechnical effects for a performance. Develop an artistic vision into a plan, taking safety into account.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • Set up pyrotechnical equipment: Make sure the pyrotechnic equipment for a performance is set up and ready for operation.
  • Write risk assessment on performing arts production: Assess risks, propose improvements and describe measures to be taken on a production level in performing arts.
  • Obtain pyrotechnic permits: Obtain the appropriate administrative permits and licences for use and transport of pyrotechnics and weapons.
  • Build pyrotechnical devices: Build devices needed for the pyrotechnical effects in a performance.
  • Perform first fire intervention: Intervene in the case of a fire in order to extinguish the fire or limit the effects pending the arrival of emergency services according to training and procedures.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Prevent fire in a performance environment: Take steps to prevent fire in a performance environment. Make sure the space complies with fire safety rules, with sprinklers and fire extinguishers installed where necessary. Make sure staff are aware of fire prevention measures.
  • Work safely with pyrotechnical materials in a performance environment: Take necessary precautions while preparing, transporting, storing, installing and operating pyrotechnical materials and explosives of class T1 and T2.
  • Work safely with chemicals: Take the necessary precautions for storing, using and disposing chemical products.
  • Promote health and safety: Promote the importance of a safe working environment. Coach and support staff to participate actively in the continuous development of a safe working environment.
  • Work safely with mobile electrical systems under supervision: Take the necessary precautions while providing temporary power distribution for performance and art facility purposes under supervision.
  • Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
  • Operate pyrotechnical control: Take the necessary steps to operate pyrotechnical effects during a performance.
  • React to emergency situations in a live performance environment: Assess and react to an emergency (fire, threat, accident or another calamity), alerting emergency services and taking appropriate measures to safeguard or evacuate workers, participants, visitors or audience according to the established procedures.
  • Store pyrotechnical materials: Safely store materials used for pyrotechnical stage effects.
  • Follow safety procedures when working at heights: Take necessary precautions and follow a set of measures that assess, prevent and tackle risks when working at a high distance from the ground. Prevent endangering people working under these structures and avoid falls from ladders, mobile scaffolding, fixed working bridges, single person lifts etc. since they may cause fatalities or major injuries.
  • Instruct on set up of equipment: Instruct others on how to properly and safely set up equipment according to specifications and regulations.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of pyrotechnician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

3435 – Other artistic and cultural associate professionals


References
  1. Pyrotechnician – ESCO
  2. Want to Become a Pyrotechnician? Here’s What to Expect – Dynamite Fireworks
  3. How to Become a Pyrotechnician – Becomeopedia
  4. Featured image: By Fieldington at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
Last updated on July 10, 2023

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