by: Chrystal Blair, Ozarks First
There are many shows to enjoy in Branson — and some of them have spectacular special effects, with plenty of fire and smoke. However, before a performer can use any type of fire on stage, they must complete a free four hour course on the safe use of indoor pyrotechnics.
The course is held three to four times per year — and is taught by the Branson Fire Department. Fire Chief Ted Martin talked about why it’s mandatory.
“It came back to the history of the station nightclub fire in Rhode Island where over 100 people lost their lives when pyrotechnics were used that caused the building fire,” said Martin, “The state of Missouri took a response to that to license pyrotechnic operators across the state of Missouri.”
Martin says the classes are very safety focused.
“We go through some of the procedures of setting up the pyrotechnics, to proper disposal, to storage and handling..safe firing measures,” Martin said.
Although these classes for many are like a refreshers course, some say there’s still something new to learn.
“I learned that it was important that no matter what structure you have on that stage it all needs to be fireproofed,” said Illusionist Rick Thomas.
For Thomas, these classes are much needed.
“Because my theater is going to be engulfed in flames…theatrically,” Thomas said.
“We do have fire on the stage and there’s a lot of my effects that have uh..fire..pyro effect to it — and they’re all flame retardant,” said Thomas.
Luke Johnson of “The Johnson Strings” is a newcomer to pyrotechnics. He’s hoping to add a few flames to their show.
“We’re always looking at bringing our show up to the next level. We love fire. We want to use it in a safe effective way to bring our show up another notch,” Johnson said.
“String instruments are wood. So, every instrument on stage is flammable. So, we definitely want to make sure we keep it safe,” said Johnson.
In addition to the training and testing at the state level, all theaters that plan to use indoor pyrotechnics, must apply to receive a permit from the Branson Fire Department.