You never can tell who is going to be able to remain calm during the “heat of battle”. Everytime I shoot a show where the show start time is determined by the customer, usually announced to myself over a radio, I always wonder how the customer will end up announcing it. I always give pretty clear instructions beforehand on how to cue us to fire so that there are no misunderstandings. The best way I have found is to say, “Pyro, Fire, Fire, Fire” over the radio in a very distinct, slowly spoken, clear voice. Usually at a show, the customer will be coordinating numerous activities and not just the fireworks cue. Because of this, he/she is usually overwhelmed with the coordination of all these activities and fails to announce clearly the pre-designated phrase. I have all to often heard the entire phrase blurred together in under a second. I have also heard, “GO, GO, GO!”, which has no words even resembling fire, pyro, or fireworks, which of course I’m suppossed to interpret as the fireworks? Sometimes for a homecoming show, the customer will just tell you, “when you hear the homecoming queen’s name announced, that’s when you fire.” In most cases, that’s not a problem, but I did have one instance where there was such an echo in the stadium that all we heard over the loudspeaker was, “gheiadn adiwgthe adiheahesf ahhwsfhfff fhedahsdfh…” We then heard, “wosefn wsefiondsf queen oiwsefohisd” and then alot of cheers, but it ended up being the announcement of last years queen. Lucky for us, my pyro instinct told me to wait. Why is all of this important? Well, since the fireworks are usually a fairly important part of the event, something which typically isn’t started, stopped, and started again, you want to make sure you start the show at the right moment. Of course if you fire on the wrong command (because nothing is being said slowly and clearly), it’s always your fault. Fortunately for my crew and I, we have nailed it right on the head each time (a couple of which were lucky guesses, like the homecoming example given above), and knock on wood will continue this tradition!