Welcome to the World of Professional Pyrotechnics!
If you've ever wondered what it is like to be up close and personal to the professional display shells during a fireworks show, or if you live for the roar of the crowd, continue reading! Whether you are interested in just being part of a fireworks display crew, or actually obtaining a California pyrotechnic operators license, you have come to the right place. We get tons of emails asking how to become a pyrotechnician, and how to obtain a pyrotechnics license. So you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into, a typical fourth of July will be described.
A Typical 4th of July
The pyrotechnician's day will usually start long before the sun comes up, for he/she needs to make the trip down to the fireworks plant to pick up his/her loaded truck. Once he is satisfied that it has been loaded properly and completely, and has filled out the mountain of paperwork, he/she will make his/her way down to the firing site where he meets his crew. With a typically sized 4th of July show, you will usually arrive at the firing site at around 9:00am or earlier to beat the summer heat and ensure you get setup on time. While the temperature is still favorable, everyone will fill the mortar boxes with sand or kleet the racks, depending on the specifics of your show. These two tasks usually take a good chunk of the morning. Once the "guns" have been cleaned, the crew will then begin laying out and loading the hundreds of aerial shells which will be used in the display. During an electrical show, the fireworks must also be wired into slave modules. At the same time, the cakes, candles, mines, set pieces, strobes, gerbes, and any other low level device in the show must be mounted, set, and wired. The firing cables must be run, a continuity check preformed, and a briefing of how the show will be fired. After all this is said and done, the crew will usually have a couple of hours to check out the festivities and mingle with the crowd before show time. About 30 minutes before show time, another continuity check is performed, a safety meeting conducted by the pyrotechnician in charge, after which everyone gets into their respective positions for the show. The show will usually fire at 9:00pm and last about 20 minutes. The finale will fire, the crowd will roar, and you'll already be looking forward to your next show. After words, the field is checked for duds, sand boxes emptied, mortar racks taken apart, and everything else packed up and put away. The crew will usually leave the firing site between 11:00pm and 1:00am depending on the show. The operator still has to drive the truck back to the fireworks plant, fill out another mountain of paperwork, and then finally gets to go home. Professional pyrotechnics is a lot of work, but it is a fun, adrenaline packed experience, that will leave you wanting more. See our fireworks videos or fireworks pictures for a better look at what it is like to work a professional display.