Safety First - Risk Management Strategy

Guarantee a Safe Pyrotechnic Display - by 'Harold Upton BSc (Hons) Dip Pyro'

Risk and Hazard Analysis

Over the years fireworks safety in Australia had fallen far behind world best practice and well behind standard Australian practice in other industries. This has come about due to the lack of adequate qualifications, expertise and knowledge of proper Hazard Analysis and Risk Management techniques of many operators, and the outdated regulations in the fireworks industry generally.

As a result unplanned or unwanted incidents (accidents) have often been assessed on their risk (probability of occurring) rather than their consequences (impact on the public). If an incident has been assessed as unlikely (small risk) then it has usually been ignored, even if the consequence is likely to have been disastrous (fatal).

There is no fireworks accident that can not be prevented by having an increased safety distance. Similarly, there is no fireworks accident, due to a malfunctioning firework, that can not be prevented by the use of appropriate pyrotechnic safety equipment. A safe pyrotechnics (fireworks) display should either use very large safety distances (three times the present Australian Standard) or specialist pyrotechnic equipment and special display construction. This equipment and the construction of displays needs, however, be based on consequence reduction and should be designed to ensure that unplanned or unwanted incidents do not occur or their risk is minimised.

The risk, or probability, of an incident occurring, is certainly important to the presentation of a display, but not necessarily to its safety. If an unplanned or unwanted incident occurs in a traditional fireworks display, there is a high chance that the display itself will be disrupted or spoilt. For this reason traditional Australian fireworks risk management has tended to focus on display presentation: the perceived risk being the risk of the display being disrupted or spoilt, not the likelihood of an accident or incident impacting on the public.

True Hazard Analysis and Risk Management focuses on the likelihood of an accident (incident) impacting on the public. Any incident that raises a public safety issue must be addressed no matter how unlikely it is that it will occur. Incidents that need to be addressed range from a simple miss-fire to serious personal injury. Every unplanned or unwanted incident that could possibly occur and disrupt or spoil a display needs to be identified. The risk, or probability, of these incidents occurring needs to be analysed and the consequences of them occurring determined. It is necessary to understand that it is the Consequence, not the Risk, of such an incident occurring that is important from a safety point of view.

Risk and Hazard Reduction - Practices Applied by ACT Fireworks

ACT Fireworks uses world best practice surpassing all Australian standards and meeting, or surpassing, most international standards in both equipment and display construction. Unlike most risk analysis that ignores improbable incidents, ACT Fireworks plans, where possible, for any incident that may have adverse consequences, no matter how unlikely it is that it will occur.

The first step in risk and hazard reduction undertaken by ACT Fireworks is to re-manufacture every single firework and pyrotechnic component we use in order to meet our exacting requirements. This process ensures that every explosive component used is spark proofed (cannot accidentally ignite), re-fused (ignites exactly when required), and water proofed (rain and dew can not stop or delay ignition).


Ready for use


Re-manufactured fireworks on site

Unanticipated ignition of a pyrotechnic device creates an immediate safety issue because the operator is no longer in control of the display. By minimising this risk ACT Fireworks ensures that, not only is the pyrotechnic display safe, but the display will proceed as planned without any hitches, mistakes or unplanned incidents.

The next step taken by ACT Fireworks is to design and manufacture special equipment that will minimise the consequences of any unplanned incident. It is possible, for example, for any firework to ignite more rapidly than planned with a resultant increase in danger to the public. Such incidents are either safely contained within the advanced pyrotechnic equipment, or safely directed away from the audience by the advanced pyrotechnic equipment, used by ACT Fireworks. This ensures that although such incidents are unplanned the display will be unaffected and can continue safely.


Fountain Stand


Multi Shot Stand


200mm Mortar


100mm Mortar

Finally ACT Fireworks use an Italian designed state-of-the-art radio remote-controlled electronic firing systems that is digitally encoded to ensure that no accidental ignition can occur. This allows our operators to oversee the entire pyrotechnic display from the firing site and guarantee maximum public safety.


Parente Control Unit


Remote Firing Unit (covered)


Remote Firing Unit (covered)

No cables are required to link these three Remote Firing Units on location in Brisbane

There is a vast difference, not only in the visual effect, but also in public safety, between buying and firing, on a commercial basis, cheap manufactured consumer fireworks, and having a client specific display that uses components manufactured specifically for the particular display in question. Cheap consumer fireworks as used by many operators can be unreliable and are more likely to pose safety risks.

Display Guarantee from ACT Fireworks

The individually manufactured pyrotechnic displays from ACT Fireworks are vastly safer and more reliable because of the extra skills used in our preparation and the increased attention to safety. Our detailed quality assurance plans also guarantee that all possible safety precautions have been taken. All displays incorporate both a safety checklist for our clients together with guidelines for associated risk management.

ACT Fireworks can therefore guarantee that our spectacular pyrotechnic displays will go according to plan and that all pyrotechnic effects requested and quoted for will appear in the display. Few other companies in the world are confident enough to offer this type of guarantee.

We are proud of ACT Fireworks unblemished safety record that results from our considerable expertise in hazard analysis, risk management, and quality assurance. This record has enabled the company to maintain the best safety record of any of the major Australian fireworks companies. We have achieved this record by undertaking a thorough and precise Risk and Hazard Analysis of all the company's displays.