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What does a Pyrotechnician do?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A pyrotechnician works with fireworks, fire, and explosives for entertainment purposes. While a pyrotechnician can work on film and television productions, he or she can also do live work such as concerts or firework displays. Pyrotechnics refers to any sort of controlled fiery or explosive substance that can be seen during some rock concerts and action films.

Many big-budget Hollywood blockbusters feature massive action set pieces that involve large explosions during battles with alien robots or high velocity car chases through a major city. Whenever there is a fiery explosion or a stream of flame shooting from an alien weapon, there was a pyrotechnician behind that effect. Like any other dangerous field of entertainment, such as stunt work, it takes a certain kind of person to handle such volatile work. Most pyrotechnicians have steady nerves and the calm required to constantly handle explosives and work around the high heat of fiery devices.

There are also many pyrotechnicians who work in live entertainment. Typically, these individuals will find a great deal of work doing fireworks shows for celebrations such as the Fourth of July in the United States (U.S.) or at other major holidays and occasions around the world. Especially prestigious events, such as those televised or for world leaders, will earn a pyrotechnician more money and also a great deal of respect within the industry. Being a specialized firework technician requires a greater knowledge of how chemicals effect the coloration of the firework explosions. Such a technician typically needs to know how to control the brightness of the bursts, the colors of the explosions, and even the patterns of the flares.

A pyrotechnician can also find work doing live concert shows for popular bands, especially rock bands. Such work may include devices that fire streams of sparks into the air to punctuate certain parts of a song or dance moves. Some extreme groups have even integrated fire displays into their costumes with large jets of fire shooting from helmets or even the sleeves of musicians, allowing the performers to effectively shoot fire from their hands. While these examples are somewhat rare, such performances require knowledgeable and certified pyrotechnicians to keep the performers and the audience safe.

Fire departments will also sometimes work with pyrotechnicians to create demonstrations of how fire burns to help inform the public about home fire safety. As someone who works with fire professionally, a pyrotechnician is intimately familiar with how fire can behave in a given environment and can use that knowledge to help keep others safe. Most importantly, pyrotechnicians are professionals with years of experience and not just someone playing with fire. It is a dangerous career and should not be attempted by amateurs.

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Discussion Comments

By anon130364 — On Nov 28, 2010

Pyrotechnicians don't only have to follow to entertainment path. Pyrotechnicians can also work with explosives for scientific experiments as well as for the entertainment industry. Fireworks are not the only thing pyrotechnicians handle.

The key word in "pyrotechnics" is "pyro", coming from the greek word "pyr" meaning "fire". A pyrotechnician is anyone that works with explosives and fire for entertainment or research experiments. Don't get me wrong, a pyrotech may very well be a person working with fireworks for a local concert. But I'm saying the line does not have to be drawn there. -Ms. B

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