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Guideline No. 7: Explosives and/or Pyrotechnics | Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry in Ontario

  • ISBN: 978-1-4249-9952-1
  • Issued: November 1990
  • Revised: June 2009
  • Content last reviewed: August 2010

Explosives and/or Pyrotechnics

It is recognized that there can be unforeseen or unique situations which might require on-site judgement differing from these guidelines and such judgement may have to be made in the interest of safety of cast and crew.

  1. Prior to the performance of all potentially hazardous work situations or pyrotechnic effects (e.g. working with explosives, explosive devices, flammable or combustible liquids, gas or chemicals on any set) the Production Manager, through the 1st Assistant Director, should give notification to all personnel. The call sheet should also state that explosive or pyrotechnical special effects are to be utilized.
  2. Special effects personnel must inform the transportation coordinator of what pyrotechnic materials, if any, their drivers will be required to transport. Vehicles must be placarded where required by federal or provincial laws. All vehicles transporting pyrotechnic materials should have readily available an inventory of those materials being transported or stored.
  3. Before any explosive or potentially hazardous sequence is to be performed, a meeting should be called by the Special Effect Coordinator for all personnel involved and they should be thoroughly briefed at a meeting on the site where the explosion sequence is to take place. This meeting should include an "on-site walk-through" or a "dry run" with the Special Effects Coordinator and all the personnel involved in the event. The Special Effects Coordinator should plan and provide acceptable avenues of escape. An understanding of the intended action, possible deviations and authority to abort should be made clear.
  4. If, at any time, substantial changes become necessary which affect the safety precautions required, another meeting should be called to confirm everyone's understanding of and agreement to the change(s).
  5. Prior to, and after any pyrotechnical effect, the Special Effects Coordinator will remain on set at all times to deal with safety matters.
  6. Either the 1st Assistant Director or the Special Effects Coordinator or the onset Special Effects Key, or all three where necessary, shall clearly announce to all persons the location of exits and escape routes. The escape route must provide unobstructed passage to the exterior of the building, structure or workspace.
  7. Additionally, all personnel should ensure that there is a clear fire route for emergency and firefighting vehicles at all times.
  8. All personnel involved should check the escape route in order to assure that it is, and will remain, accessible. Any person who is unsure of the designated escape route should check with the 1st Assistant Director and learn the escape route before entering the work area.
  9. Emergency procedures and contingency plans, including the authority to abort and appropriate signs and signals, shall be specified prior to engaging in any pyrotechnic special effects work.
  10. Only persons and crew necessary for the purpose of filming should be in the explosives area. The 1st Assistant Director, Special Effects Coordinator, and/or crew Health & Safety Representative should require that before a special effect is performed, all other personnel are safely cleared away from the explosives area.
  11. No smoking is permitted in the explosives area. "No Smoking" signs should be posted in all areas of the premises or locations where explosive and/or pyrotechnic devices are stored and handled.
  12. After each shoot, no one should go into the explosives area other than the Special Effects Coordinator, until it is deemed safe to do so by the Special Effects Coordinator.
  13. No performer should be rigged with any type of explosive charge of any nature unless supervised by a qualified special effects person.
  14. No child under the age of sixteen (16) should be close to explosives nor should they be body squibbed.
  15. Transportation of explosives and/or pyrotechnic devices shall be governed by the provisions of all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws, and the proper authorities (to be defined) shall be notified when using explosives on the set.
  16. All explosives and explosive devices shall be shunted.
  17. Detonation of explosives shall be from a separate DC power.
  18. When preparing pyrotechnics, radio transmissions of any kind including mobile phones in the area shall be turned off.
  19. Crew or other “off camera” personnel should be safely protected by moving a safe distance away from the pyrotechnic effect. No personnel should be in the vicinity of the effect without ear and eye protection. Consideration should also be given to using shatterproof clear plastic shield (1/4" minimum) and camera blankets (to protect the camera operator, focus puller and other cast and crew).
  20. When the special effect involves large flying objects such as a car rolling over or exploding near a camera, consideration should be given to using a camera in a protective box (e.g. Eyemo camera).
  21. Special consideration should be given to situations where there is a possibility of a camera operator or focus puller being injured. In this situation camera lock-off should be considered. A lock-off is a camera whose position and lens setting do not change over the duration of the shot.
  22. Check with local municipalities to see if there is a requirement for an Emergency Task Force Explosive Disposal Unit (ETF EDU) or a Police Explosive Technician or Police Explosive Technician Assistant (PETA) to be present. The applicable local film and television office may require film companies, as part of their permit, to have explosives and/or pyrotechnics supervised by ETF EDU or PETA Technicians.
  23. The Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD) of Natural Resources Canada has developed a certification program for pyrotechnic special effects technicians. For more information contact:
  24. Natural Resources Canada
    Explosives Branch
    Explosives Regulatory Division
    1431 Meriyale Road
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G1
    Attention: Rachel Robbins (Fireworks-Pyrotechnics Inspector)
    Telephone: 613-948-5172
    Fax: 613-948-5195
    E-mail: rrobbins@nrcan.gc.ca

  25. Intoxicating liquids, narcotics and other controlled substances should not be used by any person handling pyrotechnic special effects at any time during their transportation, set-up, firing or removal. (An exception may be made for prescription drugs that do not impair the motor functions and judgment of the user.)
  26. Special Effects Technicians should be readily identified by wearing or displaying an issued ERD pyrotechnic card.
  27. Pyrotechnics in Studio Setting

  28. Ensure all fire exits are kept clear and free of obstructions.
  29. Ensure all hand held fire appliances are kept clear and free of obstructions.
  30. Make sure all personnel know where the closest exit is within the studio should an emergency arise.
  31. If personnel have to leave the studio in an emergency evacuation, they should do so in an orderly manner.
  32. Personnel should pay attention to any directives given by the SPFX Supervisor, the 1st Assistant Director, the on-set ETF EDU Officer or a Fire Representative.
  33. Any questions regarding special effects fires should be directed to the special effects department.

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