Friday, August 15, 2008

Firework Firing Site Considerations

The choice of a good site is critical to public safety, and clearly important to the full enjoyment of the firework display.
Site visit
It is obvious that the Operator to any short-listed site must pay an early visit before detailed preparations can begin. The Operator will then be able to assess realistically the factors which follow. Important details are taken from HS(G)123
Space for the display this is the space required for the operation of a display, including the safety area between the firing area and the spectators. It is likely to be a rectangle at least 150m wide by 75m deep (450 feet by 225 feet)
Space for the spectators

This area should ideally be upwind of the display area, and large enough to accommodate the expected numbers. Spectators should not be so tight-packed that they could not move out of the way quickly in the event of an accident. As a rough guide, there should be no more than about two people per metre square.
The standing surface must be safe, e.g. to avoid slipping in wet weather, and free from obstructions, e.g. ditches, which could cause injury, particularly in the dark.
Fallout Zone
This is an area that is what it suggests. It is calculated to be large enough to contain any debris that will come back to Earth! The fall-out zone must be clear of any people, buildings, stores or anything inflammable.
Make sure that spectators or uninvited guests are not watching from the rear, or near the fall-out zone.
Remember that rockets when fired will turn into the wind. Even if the wind is blowing away from crowd a rocket will fly towards them. The most dangerous piece of debris from a spent firework is the rocket body and stick.
Space for a Bonfire, if there is to be one
This must be well clear of other activities that could be adversely affected by stray sparks or smoke, e.g. the firing and spectator areas. It must be well clear of buildings, roads, railways, rights of way, etc., and at a safe distance from stocks of flammable materials and overhead power lines. It should be downwind of the spectator area
Access to the Site for the delivery of Fireworks and other Equipment
Safe and certain access to the site from the road system is required for the supply vehicles. When choosing access routes, account must be taken of the adverse effects of weather on soft-surface ground and tracks.
Access to the site for Emergency Vehicles
Police, Fire, and Ambulance vehicles must be able to reach the site quickly, under all weather conditions. The routes must not become obstructed during the display, e.g. by other parked vehicles.
Access to the Site for Spectators
Spectator access must be adequate to get people on and off the site in reasonable time, again taking weather effects into account. A grass field may provide reasonable access in summer, but not after a few days of winter rain. There should be at least two routes, and they must be well signed and illuminated

The pedestrian access routes must be separate from vehicle access to car parking space, as below. There must be space for spectators to leave the site rapidly on foot in an emergency.
Spectator car Parking
Space for cars and coaches must be provided. If public roads are to be used, this must be agreed in advance with the Police. Pedestrian access from the parking spaces to the spectator area must also be well signed and illuminated.
Surrounding areas, in Terms of-
Dwellings, Roads, Railways,
The display must be located clear of these, to the extent that damage could not be caused, even in the event of complete mal-operation of a firework item. In the case of roads, the vehicles do not have to be struck by a firework for a danger to be created. An accident could result from a sudden and unexpected event anywhere on or near the carriageway.
Overhead power lines
These are vulnerable to the impact of the fireworks themselves, and may also cause a flashover if they are near scaffolding and frames used to support display features, or if they arc to Earth via the column of hot gas ejected by a firework. They may also produce stray currents in electric circuits in the vicinity, leading to the premature initiation of firework items.
Hazardous installations
The display must be well clear of any installation where flammable materials are stored or used, or where fire damage may lead to enhanced danger, e.g. plant where toxic gases are used.
Rivers and canals
Apart from the false-signalling aspects mentioned earlier, vessels and their passengers on waterways could be endangered by a display accident. Also, spent fireworks landing in water could cause pollution, which could lead to prosecution by the Environmental Agency.
Prevailing wind
The prevailing wind direction will dictate the orientation of the display site, as discussed earlier in relation to site layout.

No comments: