pyro laws


I just moved to MI from IL, and I was curious on any pyrotechnic laws in regards to theater indoors being used by a high school. Even outside of michigan-what are some laws?

My theater does own a Lemaitre fx pyro controller and have used theatrical flash pods in the past, what should they have done before they used them, or can the lawfully operate them?
The local fire inspector would be a good place to start. Not sure myself, I kind of burtned myself out on such things in the military. 1989 Chicago Building Code is 1349 pages and it's not in the index. In other words there is little hope of me finding such regulations. I expect that at very least a permit for the TD or a adiquate supervisor type trained person is required to install and supervise the use of such things if not even have a fire marshall on site to supervise the supervisor much less put out the fire.

Could be a Pyro Tech/Fireworks licence is necessary otherwise depending upon the effect.
Thanks Ship.
BTW-I recently moved from Chicago,IL. (Actually a suburb-Naperville).
What theaters are you involved in there. Are you a professional, a student, or a T.D. at a high school? If you don't mind me asking.
I am a professional but don't work the stage anymore or at least that often. I now work for a lighting company. For the most part it's been about five years since I was actively working shows professional or store front.
If you are looking into getting into pyro, besides finding a master class. If you are 18 or older, all you have to do is go to your local fire dept. and say you want to take the pyro test. They will give you a book and tell you to come back in a week or so. Then you take a test and are able to shoot pyro in your area. That book will tell you all the laws and information you need to know. But if you ever want to be hired for pyro, then a master class is a must.

In terms of flash pods, most areas will allow them without a pyro licence as long as you follow prosedure. Meaning fire extinguishers nearby, test for the fire dept, etc. Pretty much any info you need to know or permits you need or training, the fire dept. will be able to help you out. I deal with differnt pyro then flash pods. Plus, I also have taken master pyro classes. Like I said before, every state is different in terms of close range pyro.

You might also want to contact the USITT or ESTA. The monitor theatrical effects.
Thanks alot Chris. Can you explain to me more about the mastering class?

I know my theater owns a Lemaitre FX pyro controller, have you used these in the past? Any comments/complaints??
Le Maitre anything is good. It's pretty much the standard for theatrical effects.

The master classes are classes that you usually pay to go and take at a company that deals with the type of effects you want to do. Most classes are about $2,000 and there are differnt levels. The best way to learn pyro, is to hook up with a company. Most are pretty good about letting you learn the trade.
Things to consider before using pyro:

In the United States the state or local fire marshal (in some places building inspectors) will have the final call in using pyrotechnics in any production and at any venue. These people are considered “The Authority having Jurisdiction (AHJ)” by the National Fire Protection Agency’s publication on the use of Pyrotechnics before a proximate audience. This publication (available from the NFPA website,, NFPA 1126) is normally used as the guide lines by the AHJ. I highly suggest you have a copy of this if you intend to use pyrotechnics in your production.

In NFPA 1126 (the use of Pyrotechnics before a proximate audience) it specifically states the necessary actions that one must do to ensure a safe execution of a pyrotechnic effect. Knowing and understanding these guidelines is crucial to get the approval of the AHJ. Remember that NFPA 1126 is a guideline and not a code; the AHJ has the right to do whatever he/she feels is appropriate. The guidelines have excellent ideas on safety and are a must read/ own for anyone possibly responsible for pyrotechnics. Knowing NFPA 1126 helps the AHJ to trust you.

Regardless of NFPA 1126, you must secure approval from your AHJ BEFORE you attempt to add pyrotechnics to your show. The AHJ is the decision maker and NFPA 1126 is the guideline on which those decisions are made.

Hate to disappoint all of you, but according to NFPA 1126, but you MUST BE 21 YEARS OF AGE to be the chief (person responsible for firing the effect) pyrotechnician. While many AHJs will wave this to 18, I haven’t heard of anyone younger being allowed to do this.

Get a copy of NFPA 1126. Be Safe.

Number one rule of pyro:

If you don’t know EXACTLY what you are doing, don’t do it.
That's a great summary, ecglstec! I will try to find a .gov website that would have that info. Hate to be a wet blanket, but as a note to everyone, please limit your discussion to laws regarding pyrotechnics, not the actual practice of using pyrotechnics. Sorry, I just don't want an accident to happen that was based on information obtained from the site, the liability is just to much.
Sadly, you have to buy NFPA 1126 and it has a big copyright warning on the first page. I agree with you on the liability issue; better safe than sorry. You might want to add a disclaimer page that you have to pass through before entering here.


We (technicians, roadies, ect) have had enough problems with Pyrotechnics in the past years. PLEASE do not attemp to do anything that you don't know how to do. Even the little effects can be DEADLY. You may think of the fire hazard, but did you ever think about deadly smoke from a homemade effect? Pyrotechnics can and have killed; don't be a victem of an accident, or worse, the cause of one.
This thread just triggered a not-so-fond memory... of trying to record the Elgin Symphony Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. They invited members of the local "Black-Powder Musket" club to fill in for the cannons. Filled the Hemmens auditorium with thick, acrid smoke, set off the smoke detectors and ended the concert a little early. Nobody got hurt, but it's an experience I'll never forget... and have no wish to repeat.

Try calling your Fire Marshall and ask for information. The number should be in the phone book, or call the operator and ask to be connected to the fire marshall's office. Most fire stations do not house anyone who will be able to give you an accurate answer.

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