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Fire Hazards Related to Fireworks Report

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Updated: Apr 28th, 2020


Fireworks refer to a group of explosive or volatile pyrotechnic appliances utilized for artistic and entertainment activities. The most frequent application of a firework is as a component of a fireworks show. A fireworks show refers to an exhibit of the sound, visual effects and floating materials because of firework appliances. Contests on fireworks are often held at some places. Firework exhibits are regular world over and are the central point of many cultural and spiritual festivities (How to Protect Yourself from Fire Hazards 1).

Fireworks are commonly grouped as to where they act upon, either as a land or airborne firework. In the case of airborne fireworks, they are either endowed with their own driving force or be injected into the air by use of a flying shell (How to Protect Yourself from Fire Hazards 1).

The universal characteristic of fireworks is a paper or cardboard tube or covering filled with the explosive matter, in most times pyrotechnic stars (How to Protect Yourself from Fire Hazards 1). A number of these tubes are in most times joined to in order to when exploded to result in a vast assortment of dazzling forms, frequently with multiple colors (How to Protect Yourself from Fire Hazards 1).

History of fireworks

The history of fireworks can be traced back to the 7th century with the origin being China. The Chinese people came up with various forms of fireworks with an assortment of effects and color. The skill and discipline of firework development grew into an autonomous line of work. In China, pyrotechnicians were accorded respect due to their acquaintance with intricate procedures in setting up firework exhibits.

In the period of the Song Dynasty that lasted from 960 to 1279, a majority of the ordinary persons could buy a variety of forms of fireworks from market sellers, and splendid exhibits of fireworks were at the same time known to be carried out (OSHA 1). However, China has been in the lead in the production of fireworks globally.

Most of the other nations including the United States of America Import their fireworks from China. This can be partly attributed to the fact that China has tremendously developed in terms of the manufacture of mechanical and electrical gadgets. As such, it is slowly overtaking the United States of America, which has been the super power for a long time.

Fire and general safety concerns related to fireworks

Inappropriate utilization, storage, and transportation of fireworks can turn out to be hazardous to both the parties handling and onlookers (OSHA 1). To add to that, fireworks can be the genesis of fires following their landing on combustible matter. Because of this, the handling of fireworks is normally controlled lawfully. Fireworks for show are controlled by law for application by experts (OSHA 1).

End user pieces accessible by the public are undersized adaptations having inadequate quantities of volatile matter to trim down probable risk. Fireworks may front a trouble for animals, both domesticated and undomesticated, who can be scared by the blast, resulting in them running away or hurting themselves on barriers or in other manners in a bid to flee (OSHA 1).

Classification of fireworks in the United States

For a period in the region of 20 years leading to the putting out of the United Nations default categorization structure, the US has had its own such structure in existence.

The structure set up is comparable in the sense that it plays as a means for effective and conventional grouping of materials in cases where particular examination is obligatory. The structure is established upon APA Standard 87-1, which is made the certified categorization manuscript by the United States Department of Transportation guidelines (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 48).

All explosives were in the past classified into three groups for haulage reasons by the Department of Transport, commonly referred to as DOT. Class A explosives entailed prominent volatiles and they included those containing nitrate sensitized with nitroglycerin, trinitrotoluene, blasting caps, and blasting agents like ANFO. Class B explosives entailed low unstable compounds like show fireworks that were the bigger and more dominant fireworks used at the majority of public shows.

Class C explosive compounds entailed other low volatiles like lighters, fuses, and ordinary fireworks. These were the lesser and not as much powerful and were obtainable for sale and application by the public.

“During this time, a majority of the purchases and their use(s), with precise exemptions for high explosives bought and employed in state, black powder employed for sporting functions and ordinary fireworks needed a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms authorization to buy and use” (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 48).

The United States administration now employs the United Nations explosives transport classification structure. The new setup is established on risk in transport only, against the old United States of America set up of both delivery and use vulnerabilities. There are several other guidelines, which relate to the handling of explosives.

Fireworks may not hold any of the proscribed substances as cataloged in the description of end user fireworks offered. Restrictions are laid down for the entire load of pyrotechnic composition. Such restrictions are applicable to every individual unit and are particular to item kind (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 49).

The significant bunch of pyrotechnic makeup for cakes is set at 200 grams as a whole. Cakes having over this mass are grouped in Division 1.3 by default unless the appliance has several tubes divided by a bare minimum 12.5 mm distance and a mass of up to 500 grams overall is utilized.

Originality pieces sticking on content limitations in APA Standard 87-1 are in particular grouped as freshness for inland haulage. These items are let off Class I.

To add to mass composition restrictions, there are detailed restrictions on the quantity of flash powder allowed, together with breaking charges in airborne appliances. Earth-based appliances have a limit of 50 mg, and that of airborne ones stands at 130mg for each report.

A significant matter raised in relation to the American structure is the likelihood for sweltering protuberances going beyond 15 meters for given appliances subjected to the United Nations flare experiment, as this response is taken in as a component of the design task of the appliance. As a result, restrictions that are more stringent are laid upon the mass of composition in the United States structure and the 15-meter restriction for buckshot space is given up.

Codes and standards related to fireworks

2006 International Building Code (IBC)

To add to the stipulations of the International Fire Code, IFC, no matter the material amount past a significant level, any building or set up handling hazardous material has to abide by IBC Parts 307 “High-Hazard Group H, 414 Hazardous Materials and 415 Groups H-1, H-2, H-3, H-4 and H-5” (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 52).

The aim of classifying hazardous materials is to be acquainted with the reasonably elevated degree of risk created by the chemical characteristics of materials on the buildings. Classification of such matter is made particularly on the grounds of data from NFPA measures and the Code of Federal Regulations (DOL 29CFR) (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 52).

As a general overview, goals center on seclusion of storeroom and heavy-duty activities while characteristically offering supplementary structures or aspects of safety. The aim of the code is to offer these essentials of safety in spite of the somewhat low expected resident load. This is carried out to explain the risk created to the neighborhood.

High-risk Group H elements entail, among others, the utilization of a construction or a part thence that entails the making up, processing, invention or keeping of materials that comprise a substantial or health risk in proportions over and above those permissible in control regions. The idea of a control area is to center the position of hazardous materials in one place enclosed on all sides by some arrangement of fire obstructions, horizontal assemblages, security systems, and external walls.

2006 International Fire Code (IFC)

There is a whole chapter of the IFC, which is devoted to the custody, production, storage, and management of explosives. Custody, production, storage and management of fireworks are forbidden save for a number of cases.

These include storage and management of fireworks as permitted in IFC Part 3304, production, assemblage, and experimentation with fireworks as permitted in IFC Part 3305, the application of fireworks for exhibition as permitted in Part 4408 and the custody, storage, vending, management and utilization of particular forms of Division 1.4G fireworks where permitted by appropriate regulations (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 9).

The regulations of the International Standards are vital for examination of requirements in the US. Nonetheless, the greater part of other nations across the globe does not use these standards as a ground for regulation and social control.

NFPA 1124 standards for handling and storage of fireworks

The handling and storage standards are applicable to both enduring and provisional buildings where the net load of explosive content is above 125 pounds. Building materials are allowed minus restriction for buildings with a ground region less than 8000 ft2. The starting point for choosing this vital region is imprecise. As presently written, the measure would permit the same display area employed in the experiment to be of unsecured erection.

There has to be the use of barriers to protect onlookers during fireworks displays. Stuff of substantial enduringness, consistently shored up and offering continuous blockade both perpendicularly and horizontally and of an elevation of more than 40 inches (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 63). Such blockade shall visibly identify the controlled discharge region behind which the onlookers shall be positioned.

No individual or entity shall set off fireworks except if they hold consent to exhibit fireworks acquired from the head of the fire department in the locality where the exercise is to take place.

Consent shall be mandatory for the movement of fireworks or explosive material. Any vehicle for transporting fireworks should be designed such that the appliances are wholly covered at all times and under lock.

Experimental data used to design effectively a fire protection system

Enthalpy of combustion

Enthalpy refers to a thermodynamic quantity equal to the internal energy of a system plus the product of its volume and pressure. It is a determinant of the entire heat developed, whether emitted or take in, as the consequence of a full burning reaction. Burning is an intricate occurrence, which in most times entails a lot of setting off, chain branching and chain ending steps in any element system.

The phenomenon was however made easy to understand by use of Hess’ law which states that the enthalpy of combustion is reliant just on the original and ending conditions of the set up. This is well illustrated in equation 1 below. Put differently, this value does not rely on the always-intricate path followed as the element reactants are turned into products. An important note to make is that the enthalpies of the involved products and the reactants are reliant on temperature.

Hcombustion = Hproducts – Hreactants


D Hcombustion = Heat of combustion [J]

Hproducts = Heat of formation of products [J]

Hreactants = Heat of formation of reactants [J]

To add to the universal computation process presented here, the heat of burning for any given pyrotechnic compound may be settled on by experiment through a bomb calorimeter (Schirmer Engineering Corporation, 23). These measurements could be taken for wrapped up loose consumer fireworks.

Establishing the highest temperature of the burning reaction is especially vital in relation to fire protection purposes. This heat level dictates the quantity of heat mislaid from the reaction point to its immediate environment. This approximated heat loss in most times determines the setup of partitioning expanses and/or the heat level of inactive thermal obstacles like flame breaks or compounds of covering meant to lag the product.

An approximation of the highest temperature may be conventionally made with awareness of both the heat of combustion and the heat capability of the chemical components in the reaction.

Case study incident

In the year 1995, the State of Washington came up with novel guidelines to be used in construction development in relation to end user fireworks retail facilities. These guidelines entailed conditions for building type and property line hold ups established upon qualitative evaluations. In reaction to these fresh guidelines, an examining course was carried out to offer more irrefutable validation. The undertaking entailed a single experiment in which a complete size provisional retail stand was packed with end user fireworks.

The 128 ft2 set up was constructed of amassed 4-foot segments of plywood of ¼ inch. It was then fitted with two side entrances that remained closed as the test went on. The single other aperture in the structure ran the whole 16 feet distance end to end of the face of the facility. The entire area of this aperture was thus 48 ft2. In the interior of the stand, over 10,000 individual bits adding up to about 900 pounds of end user fireworks were set on plywood shelving. Table 1 below shows how the stand was loaded.

Table 1 Loading Of Simulated Retail Fireworks Stand

Description Quantity Shots
Variety Packs (10 separate devices) 2 20
Novelty items 909 909
Ground spinners 1440 1440
Fountains and whistles 951 951
Cones 64 64
Spinning wheels 6 6
Smoke devices 792 792
Metal stem sparklers 396 396
Year-round novelty items (including poppers) 440 440
Helicopters 3528 3528
Parachutes 290 290
Candles 864 8362
Mortars/shells 120 384
Large night displays (cakes) 303 7106
total 10105 24688

Source: Schirmer Engineering Corporation

The experiment was set off by the putting of a match to newspapers inside the shed. A chronology of noteworthy occurrences after ignition is offered in Table 2 below.

Table 2 Chronologies Of Events For Fireworks Stand Test

Time[sec] Event
0 Ignition
250 Packaging ignites, 400oC temperature at origin
550 Ignition of fireworks, temperatures inside stand rise to 800oC and fireworks exit
open front of stand
567 Visibility within stand near zero. Ignition of fireworks more rapid. Number exiting stand keeps increasing. Heat flux from front of stand is 7 kW/m2 at 14 feet
617 Flashover. Max temperature inside stand is 1,400oC. Heat flux rises and so does
number of fireworks exiting stand
866 Temperature inside stand is 1,100oC. Structure actively burning, with collapse imminent. Very few fireworks still active. Heat flux of 22 kW/m2 recorded at 14 feet
from opening, temperature 200oC
2100 Temperature recorded at 550oC inside stand, test ends.

Source: Schirmer Engineering Corporation

Measurements carried out during the course of the test entailed both internal and outside heat levels as well as occurrence temperature change at a range of external locations around the stand. As well, from the measurements of incident temperature change, investigators approximated this amount as a function of detachment from the fire inside the stand.

Conclusion from experiment

The display of findings relating to incident heat flux begs for more questions than answers. Measurements recorded at the outer small section of the stand and the outer back section show an incident of heat change intensity of nearly double what would be projected in the hottest part of a sunlit day on a Florida beach. In the course of the experiment, nevertheless, constant rain was experienced. As a result, the calibration of the measuring gadgets used must be queried.

In the end, the publishers of the test concluded that these approximations of incident heat fluctuation as a utility of expanse from the stand shored up performance of 40-foot retard necessities.

On the grounds of incident heat fluctuations alone, this appears logical; nevertheless, the publishers did not lay emphasis on the reality that a lot of airborne appliances were driven through by way of the fore opening of the stand and hit the ground over 250 feet away. As a result, either delay standards need to be relooked at or a means for diminishing this further risk should be looked into.

Measures used to minimize the hazard of fireworks

A number of precautions need to be taken in order to minimize risks posed by fireworks. These precautions are applicable manufacturing, packaging, transporting, handling, consuming, storage, and retail sales of the commodities (CPSC 1). There needs to be protected parting spaces stuck between volatile materials. Handling of fireworks as well calls for appropriate passive barriers.

Buildings or storages that harbor fireworks and other volatile appliances need to be set at safe distances from other buildings or residence areas (CPSC 1). Such buildings need to be adequately vented so that smoke and heat can be directed out using minimal time. Alarm and detection equipment are as well vital so that occupants and people close to fire occurrence areas can take early precaution.

The design of fireworks needs to take into account a number of fire avoidance techniques including detonation possibility lessening and staff instruction (CPSC 1).

Works Cited

CPSC. CPSC Demonstrates Fireworks Hazards- Commission Urges Consumers to Celebrate Safely on Independence Day. Office of Information and Public Affairs. 2002. Web.

“How to Protect Yourself from Fire Hazards.” eHow.com. eHow, 2010. Web.

OSHA. OSHA cautions on the dangers of using fireworks. United States Department of Labor. 2011. Web.

Schirmer Engineering Corporation. Fire Safety in Consumer Fireworks Storage and Retail Facilities – Hazard Assessment Research Project. The Fire Protection Research Foundation. 2007. Web.

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