Fireworks displays

3 Replies

Fireworks displays

Posted by Theresa Hitchcock on Jul 11, 2018 1:41 pm

I am working on our school year kick off and am considering a fireworks display. This is new territory for me, and I would appreciate any insight from the group. Have you done one before? Any words of wisdom?
Hanover College
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Re: Fireworks displays

Posted by Kendrick Durham on Jul 12, 2018 8:56 am

We do this on Commencement Eve every year.  Check in with your campus grounds/facilities and police/security teams first.  Your vendor will require a several hundred foot radius for fallout and since this debris is sometimes still burning you want to be sure it can be done safely away from property and people.  You may have to negotiate between your campus team's preference on location vs. where the vendor feels comfortable.  There will likely be local and state permitting required, so you'll want to ask the vendor if they will take care of the paperwork and fees associated.  Timeframe for approval of this paperwork will vary...

Re: Fireworks displays

Posted by Gregory Wilkins on Jul 12, 2018 9:08 am

At MN State Mankato, Student Activities has done fire works for the last decade. I would advise that you coordinate the planning of this proposed event with your campus' department of environmental health and safety. They will assist you as you plan with your City's fire marshall as you develop a fire plan with map. (A map will be needed as part of your day of plan as well as most likely for the city permit.) Environmental health and safety will need to be involved in securing a spot that meets, if not exceeds, distance(s) away from buildings, trees, and other possible flammable sources. They can also aid you in getting it approved on your campus with access to space -- set-up, tear down, etc. As a courtesy we also send a note to the local neighbors inviting them to the event and warning them of the displays loud noise. (We had one family in the past who wrote a letter to us after they were notified stating the event scared their children. You may also have returning vets who suffer from PTSD.)

Most cities have a city ordinance on the topic of fire works. I advise that you read it thoroughly and have a clear understanding of expectations from noise, traffic control, pollution, etc. Your city most likely has a fee that will need to be paid for the works to be shot-off. You will need to have the works operator license for each of the people that will shoot off the display as well as size, approximately how many shells will be shot as part of the permitting process, and class of explosive.

When selecting the company that will shoot the works, you will want them to be insured for at least 2 million dollars, if not more. I would also recommend at least $500,000 per injury per person.

You will need to work with the company on the type of works you want to be fired, height, colors, style. You can do a decent display for $5,000 to $8,000. The bigger the display and pending types of works shot, the most costly the event.

If inviting the community to your event, think about traffic, parking, porta potties, trash and recycling, etc. We work with our campus traffic department on signage and traffic control. You may also want to think about other programming activities before the fireworks display -- bounce house for kids, snacks, as well as adult activities. We work with a local radio station to be at the event as well as do a  live broadcast with music. We do a dueling music event with local bands as well as the campus' marching band.

One thing most people don't think of is clean-up. Fireworks are messy with lots of small bits of paper and debris. You will want a group of volunteers to clean the field. We walk the field with a group of approximately 20 people with trash bags to retrieve the mess out of the lawn and then have grounds crew go over it with a vacuum- like machine they use to pick-up leaves in the autumn. We did this once at night, and it was too difficult. Now we do it at the crack of day so that the campus/grounds are spit spot. Think too about a rain date. You will want to have this clearly spelled out in the contract so that you understand the risk of bad weather and what that involves. Your city may also require a rain date permit to be filed. 

I have attached an example of a contract from one of our past displays.
Attached files

Re: Fireworks displays

Posted by Gregory Wilkins on Jul 13, 2018 8:29 am

P.S. You can do a small show that has a wow factor for $3,000.