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Firework Displays, Explosive Entertainment
Firework Displays, Explosive Entertainment

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Product Code: 9780820600901


Firework Displays, Explosive Entertainment
A guide to getting the most from your firework display
for designers, firers and event organisers

Hardcover With Full Color Pictures
ISBN-13/EAN: 9780820600901
ISBN: 0820600903
Author: Tom Smith
Chemical Publishing
Book - Hardback Full Color
Published: September 2011

Photographs and images
Author notes
List of Tables
List of Figures
Chapter 1 – Introduction
Chapter 2 – History of firework displays
Chapter 3 – Firework types and effects
Chapter 4 – Display types
Chapter 5 – Safety issues and risk assessment
Chapter 6 – Planning the display site
Chapter 7 – Fallout
Chapter 8 – Rigging the display
Chapter 9 – A study of shell failures and mortar rack construction methods
Chapter 10 – Choosing the right fireworks
Chapter 11 – Display design
Chapter 12 – Legal issues
Chapter 13– International standards
Chapter 14 – The environmental effects of fireworks
Chapter 15 – Firework competitions
Chapter 16 – Pyromusicals and broadcast events
Chapter 17 – Electrical firing basics
Chapter 18 – Firing systems review
Chapter 19 – Case studies – small and medium scale events
Chapter 20 – Case studies – very large scale events
Chapter 21 – Future developments
Chapter 22 – What happens when it goes wrong?
Chapter 23 – Conclusions

This new book, with over 180 illustrations and over 50 tables of data, is designed for firework display firers, designers and organisers of outdoor events.

From the enthusiastic amateur firer who wants to get the most from the legally available fireworks, all the way up to the seasoned professional, this book will benefit those needing more information about the ways professionals plan and use fireworks to the greatest effect.

Dr. Smith’s book covers the areas of:

– Ancient and modern history of firework displays
– Types of fireworks
– Firework effects
– Types of displays most commonly used today
– Newly created diagrams of firework types and effects, from both an aesthetic and safety point of view.

Specific sections on:

– Display safety
– Risk assessment
– Fallout issues
– Planning and rigging of the display site
– Research on mortar rack safety
– Display design
– Choosing the appropriate fireworks
– Colour theory
– Electric firing
– Synchronisation of fireworks to music
– Design philosophies
– Legal issues
– International standards
– Environmental effects of fireworks
– Case studies of displays, large and small
– Future developments in fireworks and displays
– What happens when things do not go to plan

Dr. Tom Smith, a well-known and influential figure with over 20 years experience in the firework industry, has created an essential guide to the exciting world of fireworks and firework displays.

He has been a consultant to the Athens Olympics, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, the London Millennium and New Year’s Eve displays.

Other contributors include:

Darryl Fleming – Kimbolton Fireworks
Chris Pearce and Andy Wiggins – Jubilee Fireworks
Rodney Clarke – FireOne
Martin Smith – Coordinator of the largest November 5th celebrations in the UK
Jim Donald – London New Year’s Eve displays
Andrew Walsh – Accolade events Australia, producer of large-scale world events
Murray Torrible – Precision Broking, insuring the world’s largest display companies

Reviews of this Title:

Christian Lohrer
October 2011

This book gives a very comprehensive overview of the world of fireworks. It comprises - amongst others - information on historical developments of firework displays, introduces the large variety of (sub-) types and categories, identifies possible hazards to be considered during the planning of firework displays and gives recommendations in case of accidents/incidents. Especially the description of the probabilistic approach of assessing risks (based on hazards in combination with frequencies) highlights a promising alternative in a field that seems currently be dominated by simple deterministic methods in many countries.

Moreover, the book provides information on latest legislation
as well as standardisation aspects and gives guidance on the fireworks event planning not only to the users (with or without specialist knowledge) but also to the enforcers, who are dealing with the assessments of professional firework displays prior to the permission of these. It should therefore be considered, to include this book in respective national training courses, which form the basis of licensing systems with regard to the training of “persons with specialist knowledge” in Europe. Taking this into account, it is recommended to translate this book to other languages in order to allow a broader community to share the information provided in this book.


Professor Chris Bishop
Vice President, The Royal Institution
Distinguished Scientist, Microsoft Research
March 2011

Tom Smith is to be congratulated on putting together this delightful book on the theme of firework displays. Aimed at display firers, both amateur and professional, this book covers an impressive range of theoretical and practical topics, making it unique in the fireworks literature.

Tom brings enormous experience in the fireworks industry, including a period as display manager of Kimbolton Fireworks, during which time Kimbolton won several firework competitions. More recently he has acted as a consultant for the London Millennium celebrations, the Athens Olympic Games, and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Together with his co-authors, Tom has assembled a truly comprehensive treatise, covering almost every aspect of firework displays, from a taxonomy of fireworks to display design, and from firework competitions to environmental impact. The chapter on risk assessment is particularly valuable, and emphasises the crucial distinction between risk and hazard, as well as adopting a very practical approach to the overall evaluation of risk.

For amateur firers the book will prove to be especially valuable. Amateurs often lack the support network, as well as the formal and informal apprenticeship opportunities, afforded to the professional. Access to the wealth of experience and information captured in this book can only lead to improved safety levels and to enhanced artistic content in amateur displays.

Beautifully illustrated, the book is also well written and a pleasure to read. Even the topic of legal issues, a subject with plenty of soporific potential, is leavened with ample personal interpretation and perspective. As a relative newcomer to the world of firework displays, I found the book to be hugely informative. This superb and comprehensive text undoubtedly has a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in fireworks and firework displays.


Bob Seddon
CEng MIExpE BSc(Hons) MSc(EOE) MSc(DIS) MA Industry

Fireworks Display: Explosive Entertainment is a substantial collection of chapters, produced by a number of authors, which is edited by Dr Tom Smith of Davas Ltd. The book is targeted at a broad range of readers, both amateur and professional pyrotechnicians, and would form a very useful addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in planning and organising firework events. As an explosive engineer whose knowledge and use of pyrotechnics does not extend much beyond the military smoke screening and illumination domains, I was fascinated by the initial chapters of the book concerning the history of fireworks and the categorisation of fireworks by types and effects. The categorisation of fireworks usefully follows that developed recently in the EU Standard for Fireworks.

A key part of the book concerns safety issues and risk management and provides a substantial framework for the identification of hazards and the management of risk at firework events. For those familiar with QRA the approach used in the book will be very familiar as is the adoption of the ALARP principle.

I found the chapter on planning the display site replete with useful advice and the factors identified would form a useful checklist for any event planner or organiser. I was somewhat surprised to see a chapter entitle ‘Fallout’ but in this context it related to the inevitable effects of gravity on every item that is projected into the air at less than escape velocity! The tabular data relating to the impact of wind speeds on debris zones are particularly useful and again would form a useful check for any firework event organiser.

Chapter 12 of the book focuses on legal issues and provides a brief overview of the relevant UK legislation and statutory instruments relating to pyrotechnics and explosives. Given the number of accidents that have occurred around the world involving the storage of fireworks, I feel a subsequent edition of this book would usefully benefit from greater coverage of the specific hazards and pitfalls associated with storage. In particular, the impact of exceeding permitted net explosive quantities and the hazards associated with the poor marking of fireworks stores.

In conclusion, I found this book a most interesting read and it is clear that the contributing authors have substantial practical experience in the field. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with a professional or amateur interest in fireworks and pyrotechnics.

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