Safety precautions that may surprise you when setting up a firework show

NewsCenter 23

POSTED: Thursday, July 3, 2014 - 6:40pm

UPDATED: Friday, July 4, 2014 - 10:12am

It takes three days to fully set up the Fourth of July firework display at the Brownsville Sports Park.

A simple spark can mean the difference between a beautiful show, or a dangerous night.

Janet Shears is the pyrotechnician for the Brownsville fourth of July celebration at the sports park tomorrow night.

Janet Shears, Pyrotechnician, "The bottom part is the lift charge. This actually shoots it up into the air and the top part is a sphere, and this is again black powder, but its got different chemical compositions depending on the color that they are trying to achieve."

The firework sizes at this show range from 3 inches, up to 10 inches. But when it comes to planning, safety is always top priority.

Shears, "The other one that we have to be very careful with is airplanes."

The technician must warn the FAA before any firework show and tell them it's a no fly zone.

The safety precautions when it comes to a show of this magnitude are endless. For example, pyrotechnicians can only wear cotton clothing to prevent any sort of static shock. The charges can be set off with anything, such as a watch battery or even a cell phone.

They also must be in close contact with the National Weather Service. A wind of 25 mph will shut down the show by law. The grass has to be mowed and watered to prevent any fire from potentially spreading. And once all the fireworks are on site, a 24 hour surveillance is in order for safety, and to protect the investment.

Shears, "We put these crates on the ground, we don't leave the premises at all. We have to have a licensed technician on scene. I believe this here show is at $30,000."

After all the set up is complete, a police sweep of the area is conducted to make sure no people are close by, and the show begins.

The gates to the sports park open at 3:00pm. Live music begins at 4:00pm, and the 1200 fireworks display set to go off at 9:20pm.

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