Fire Tools & Safety – Published 3/20/21
Your dance may include a wide variety of fire tools in an effort to encourage diversity and creativity from fire artists in the community. But think before you start adding props into your dance; ask yourself, “does this really advance the dance?” Fire is NOT an accessory, or to be used to fill in where there is no dance.
We are always excited to see the new directions you are willing to go with your dances and prop development. ; what we’re interested in knowing about are the big innovative props you are designing. Standard, liquid fuel dipped tools don’t need any special approval. Our main concerns are rooted in safety – the Great Circle is a Safety First environment. We are very serious about safety concerns in the Great Circle as there are volatile ingredients present and, as always we are concerned for the crowd once the perimeter has been released. The safety measures we’ve put in place are a reaction to previous experiences and foresight to potentially dangerous situations. Certainly we’ve all read the back of our tickets but that doesn’t mean we’re willing to create danger; rather, we want to prevent it.
Photo Credit Grant Palmer
When you are designing new large apparatus props please keep a few things in mind:
- Does it add to or detract from your dance?
- Does it set up and break down easily and quickly?
- Does it take extraordinary effort and special equipment to fuel and extinguish?
- Could it become a tripping-hazard to one of the participants once the perimeter has been released?
- Could it impede progress of EMS access?
We want to see drawings of your proposed large apparatus props with dimensions and photos of the tool in a static state, an active state, lit and unlit, so that we can give it a fair assessment. We’d like to engage in discourse about large apparatus prop development with you early so that you may move forward with your large apparatus prop, or guide you to greater success with your dances without it. It is always up to the discretion of the FC Council whether something will be approved or not once we see your video submission.
We’re interested in promoting growth and development and seeing how you take on the challenges of creating new and innovative dances. Keep up the strong work and keep the above mentioned things in mind while designing new innovations. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated.
The group of tools that DO NOT need any special approval are what we consider to be “Standard Tools”. Below is a list of standard static and dynamic tools that don’t qualify as “large apparatus”. Keep reading past these lists for more information on the kinds of large apparatus props we’d like to see before you get really invested with it. This is not intended to be a complete list, and is broken down into Static Tools, Dynamic Tools and Props for reference.
STANDARD TOOLS & PROPS:
- Guidons, Processional type staves, tall staves with fire at one end
- Costume pieces such as tails, skirts, back pieces, wings, crowns, helmets, hats, shoes, flippers
- Wands of any sort
- Contact juggling balls
- Flaming dildos
- Fans, Fire fingers, Palm torches
- Basic torches
- Fire breathing fuel bottles
- Bolos Fans
- Staves / Dragon Staves
- Comets / Rope dart
- Sun wheels “of death”
- Jump Ropes
- Axes, Swords,
- Fire knives
- “Branches” or “Antlers”
- Limbo bars
Although we are in full support of new tool innovations, we’re concerned about everybody’s safety in the event of an emergency. The Great Circle is a Radically Dangerous Place; we want to keep the surprises to a minimum and not create a larger access problem in the event we need to get Emergency Services through the Great Circle.
FIRE SWORD vs WEAPONS
Over the past few years the FC Council has noticed that more and more performers are utilizing “swords” in their choreography. Some fire tools, like “swords”, may have the appearance of being a weapon. Within Burning Man’s event Closure Order there is a particular clause that has to do with weapons. This is not a new clause, it has been there for some time. But because of the numbers of “swords” used within the Fire Conclave groups, it is time that we take this more seriously.
In order to to make sure that performers will be able to complete their dance, the way they intended and in cooperation with gate staff, we are requiring all members of the Fire Conclave, that will be entering Black Rock City with said fire tools to carry a document that is created by the FC Council, this document will be required at the gate. In July once a fire group has been invited to perform at the man & they accept the invitation, a link to a web form will be sent to the Shin and in turn said information should be given to any performer with said fire tool.
From the Closure Order: Weapons – The possession of any weapon is prohibited and the definition of a weapon is as follows: “Weapons are defined as a firearm, compressed gas or spring powered pistol or rifle, bow and arrow, crossbow, blowgun, spear gun, hand thrown spear, slingshot, irritant gas device, electric stunning or immobilization device, explosive device, any implement designed to expel a projectile, switch-blade knife, any blade which is greater than 10 inches in length from the tip of the blade to the edge of the hilt or finger guard nearest the blade (e.g. bokkens, moorish swords, floating swords, dirks, daggers, machetes , any sword) or any other weapon the possession of which is prohibited by state law. Exception: This rule does not apply in a kitchen or cooking environment or where an event worker is wearing or utilizing a construction knife for their duties at the event.”
The Fire Conclave in the Great Circle is contributing to making a sacred space, then blowing the roof off that space with the awesome energy and collaborative effort of all of the fire performance groups combined. The Fire Conclave is an opportunity to produce an epic “collaborative” performance, not to outdo each other with gimmicky contraptions. Be memorable because you’re all amazing dancers!
NOT ALLOWED WITHIN THE GREAT CIRCLE
- No large apparatus that cannot be dismantled easily. Why? Because once the perimeter is released, participants will see nothing but the Man on fire. They will be running towards the fire like moths to a flame and the potential of them running into you, your tools, fuel and anything else in the way is very high.
- Anything beyond the standard tools MUST be OK’d by the FC Council before it will be allowed inside the Great Circle.
- No Flame Effects. Flame Effects is defined as “The combustion of solids, liquids, or gases to produce thermal, physical, visual or audible phenomena before an audience.” This includes all flames that are automated, switched, pressurized or having any other action than simply being on fire; as well as using propane or other liquid or gaseous fuels. If you need more information, please read http://burningman.org/event/art-performance/fire-art-guidelines/flame-effects/l
- No Generators to operate equipment of any kind.
- No Amplified Music, i.e. no monitors, dj gear, rock bands, boomboxes.
- No Pyrotechnics. Sparklers, flash paper or flash powder are NOT allowed.
- No Smoke Effects – colored smoke canisters, etc..
- No Burning Ember props – such as steel wool poi or burning wood that can cause MOOP (matter out of place) or endanger group members or audience members.
- No Drones allowed in the Great Circle!
What defines a “large apparatus” you ask?
- A big thing or things that cannot easily be made flat without tools.
- Things that take more than one person to move easily and safely.
- Things that require significant setup or strike time.
- Things that require really non standard fueling equipment, e.g. a large tarped frame staked to the ground.
Examples of things that are subject to approval:
- Large puppets
- Some drums: no more than one drum with stand per person unless they’re on carriers and/or slings.
Things we’ve turned down in the past
- Rigging of any kind
- Set pieces of any kind
- Furniture e.g. tables and chairs
- Attached, rack mounted drum kits
TOOL APPROVAL REQUEST
To request approval of a Large Apparatus or non-standard fire tool, please use the form provided at this link https://forms.gle/k3RfMUdHTFD8t4cz7. The FC Council will review your approval request and give you a reply within three days.
The cut-off date for Large Apparatus or non-standard fire tool approval submission is June 1st
Fire Performers at Burning Man must always follow basic safety practices when dealing with fuel. Burning Man’s Fire Guidelines for Fire Performers & Fuel fall under the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) classification of Open Fire Two (OF2).
OPEN FIRE LEVEL TWO – Enclosed fire. Simple burning of unpressurized fuels, away from the playa surface and within appropriate fireproof containment. Examples include burn barrels, braziers or other raised containers, oil lamps, torches, fire performance tools, candles and other simple uses of fire. Precautions must be taken to ensure that anything that should not be set on fire (fabric, stage sets, etc.) is kept away from flame. As long as all fire, fuel, embers, etc., are kept contained and away from the playa surface, neither a burn shield nor a Burn License are required for this level.
Photo Credit Espresso Buzz
BASIC FUEL STORAGE INFORMATION
- For information on the safe use of specific fuels you should first read the recommendations printed on the original fuel container.
- Fuel should be kept in the original container or other certified fuel management containers clearly marked as containing fuel. Water bottles or other containers that might lead to the accidental ingestion of fuels should not be used.
- Keep your fuel out of direct sunlight and away from any open flames, burn barrels and other sources of ignition.
- All fuels containers, no matter how small, should be stored in an appropriate containment device.
- 1 – 5 gallon can, can be stored in a single cement-mixing tub, which come in small, medium and large.
- When transferring fuel, use secondary containment such as a 5-gallon bucket or other larger container to prevent spills.
- At least one 5-pound ABC fire extinguisher must be kept nearby and in sight of areas where fuel is stored.
- Do not dump excess or unused fuel on the playa, this can result in a fine from the BLM.
- More information about the storage of fuels at Burning Man can be found here. http://burningman.org/event/art-performance/fire-art-guidelines/fuel-hazmat-storage/
A list of Fire Safety Common Practices
- Please be aware of your environment and surroundings anytime you are performing with fire.
- Respect boundaries set by camps and campers.
- Fire can cause serious injury, disfigurement and property damage, so never spin alone.
- All fire performers must perform sober and act responsibly.
- Before beginning any fire performance, check your equipment. Tighten your hardware, and look for any damage or issues that might cause the device to come apart and potentially cause a flaming element to be thrown into camping areas or at those gathered to watch.
- Always have proper fire suppression equipment at hand. Fire suppression equipment should include clean wet towels or duvetyn for extinguishing performers and a separate one for extinguishing tools and props.
- Do not leave flames burning on the playa surface (you may be ticketed by BLM).
- Do not spin or shake off excess fuel on the playa; use a spin off bucket or zip-lock baggies to catch your excess fuel. That means burning off those fuel trails on the playa surface is a no-no.
- There are no formal Fire Conclave Safety Trainings, however you may always stop by Fire Conclave Convergence or check the What, Where, When for information about any training that may be presented by theme camps or individual fire troupes.
- All fire performers must have a second person on hand acting as a safety. This person should be able to extinguish tools using a flame retardant material (such as duvetyn) and a second piece of wet clean natural fiber (such as a cotton towel) should your costuming be ignited.
- The safety person should also be able to deal with any situations you may not be aware of as you perform. You never know when something may go wrong so be sure to always have a sober fire safety. Just because you have your act together doesn’t mean the people around you do.
FUEL TYPES ALLOWED IN FIRE SPINNING ON PLAYA
- White Gas – aka: Naptha, Coleman Fuel, Camping Fuel.
- Lighter Fluid – aka: Ronsonol Zippo, etc.
- Lamp Oil – aka: paraffin.
NEVADA STATE FIRE PERFORMANCE PERMITTING & LAWS
Nevada state law does not regulate fire performances at Burning Man. Which means there are no special permits or licenses required, though unsafe behavior will not be allowed at any time. Black Rock Rangers or Emergency Service members may ask those found to be performing in an unsafe manner to stop and correct safety issues.