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Use of fire in performances

Fire shows involve the use of fire as part of a performance. Fire shows include the burning, spinning and juggling of various objects, such as batons, chains, fans and hoops, which have been dipped in flammable liquids. Blowing fire, burning fire gel in a bowl or setting a person on fire with fire gel are also fire shows.

A fire show in a public event is a professional activity that requires the permission of the owner or tenant of the building and, if necessary, the landowner. The organiser must submit a notification of a fire show to the rescue authority no later than 14 days before the event. The notification is automatically directed to the rescue department of the municipality selected. The notification must describe the arrangements of the fire show and include an emergency plan for the fire show. The notification can also be attached to the emergency plan for the entire event, in which case it presents the hazards and risks of the fire show and the safety arrangements. Please ask your local rescue department for contact information for submitting the emergency plan.

The person in charge of the fire show is responsible for ensuring that the fire is handled carefully and safely. The person in charge must have sufficient training in handling fire and in dealing with accidents and incidents. The rescue authority may prohibit a fire show at a public event if it is considered to constitute an obvious danger to people, the environment or property.

Fire shows use hazardous chemicals, such as lamp oil, fire gel and lighter fluid. Although these hazardous chemicals are used at public events, fire shows are considered to constitute handling naked flames, so fire show performers are not required to have a pyrotechnician’s licence. The use of a hazardous chemical at a public event with gas-powered or other equipment requires expertise in the use of the equipment and the properties of the chemical used, as well as the relevant regulations. Because of this, if equipment is used to produce a fire effect, it is considered special-effects use. Special-effects use and its notification procedure are discussed on the page Special effects.

Safety considerations in fire shows

Fire guards

There must be at least one designated fire guard in the performance area. The fire guard is there to react to accident situations immediately and take the necessary measures. The fire guard must not have other duties to perform at the same time. For example, the fire guard cannot act as a performer at the same time and must have sufficient training for the task. First-aid fire extinguishing training that covers, at minimum, the use of a portable fire extinguisher and a fire blanket and extinguishing fire on a person, is considered sufficient training. The fire guard must wear clothing suited to fire extinguishing and have the necessary personal protective equipment. At indoor shows, the fire guarding must continue for at least one hour after the end of the fire performance. In outdoor shows, the fire guarding must continue for a sufficiently long period of time, taking into account the circumstances.

First-aid fire extinguishing equipment

The fire guard must have the use of sufficient and appropriate first-aid fire extinguishing equipment: at least two portable first-aid fire extinguishers rated at least 43A183BC, in addition to the room’s own first-aid fire extinguishers. However, one of the portable fire extinguishers can be replaced with two portable fire extinguishers rated 27A144BC. In addition, a fire glove and a fire blanket must be available at the location where fire is used.

Safe distances

‘Safe distance’ refers to the distance at which it is safe for the public to be present and the distance at which no danger of ignition arises from a fire show. The safe distance is determined by the person in charge of the show who must be aware of the safe distances required by the show and the products used in it. The distances should take into account the effect of the beams, ceilings, gratings and trusses in the performance space. The floor plan attached to the notification of a fire show must indicate the distances to the public and potential sources of ignition.

Restricting the performance area

Access to the performance area must be restricted to prevent the audience from entering it and to ensure safe distances from the fire show. The restriction can be enforced using, for example, flagged warning line or security guards. Indicate the restricted-access fire show area in the floor plan attached to the notification of a fire show.

Furnishings and venue materials

The furnishings and materials in the performance area must be fire resistant, and their class certificates must be submitted with the notification. The class requirement is SL 1, DIN 4102 Class B1 or equivalent. For more information, see Section First-aid fire extinguishing equipment, furnishings and emergency access roads at a public event.

Wild fire warnings

Never start a fire if a wild fire warning issued by the Finnish Meteorological Institute is in force or if the conditions (drought, high winds or other reasons) pose an obvious risk of a forest or grass fire or other fires. When a wild fire warning is in force, fire shows cannot be held if they are considered to involve the use of naked flames.

Disconnection of an automatic fire alarm

If the fire show is held in a space with smoke-responsive detectors, disconnect the automatic fire alarm system as needed. The arrangements for disconnecting the fire alarm system must be agreed with the building owner, occupant or operator and the rescue authority. The disconnection can only be carried out by the designated operator of the fire alarm equipment. If there is a disconnection timer in the space, the disconnection may be carried out by a person appointed for its use in accordance with the instructions of the owner, occupant or operator of the building and the rescue authority. A fire guard must be arranged for the area for the duration of the disconnection and tasked with supervising the disconnected spaces. The fire guard must not have other duties to perform at the same time. Voluntary fire alarm systems are an exception; if the fire alarm system is voluntary, the owner of the building will determine the fire guarding arrangements. Fire shows held outdoors must take into account the fire alarm systems of nearby buildings. Fire shows must not be held in the vicinity of buildings’ air intake vents, as this may cause a false fire alarm. If it is possible that smoke will enter a building equipped with a fire detector, the building’s fire detector must be disconnected as necessary and fire guarding arranged for the building.

Read more:

Notification of a fire show
Special effects
First-aid fire extinguishing equipment, furnishings and emergency roads at a public event