A Collection of News & Information
An interesting video of the machines they are using in China to help with the manufacture of various fireworks.
Dusherha Festival celebrations in Nottingham, produced another spectatcular display in small Temple Firing Site.
Fireworks In Nottingham.
A firework display celebrating the Hindu Dashera Festival was carried out to several hundred families at 8.15pm. An effigy of the Hindu god was also burnt.
As usual several of the Big Bang staff visited Plymouth to see this years'' British Firework Championships. First place was Pheonix Fireworks, who were worthy winners.
Steve Williams today achieved the milestone of 30 years in the Pyrotechnic industry. He started working for Haley & Weller Ltd. who produced Benwell Fireworks as well as military products. That company is now known as Chemring Defence UK Ltd. who Steve still does some work for.
We went to watch AC/DC play, also watched the various stage pyrotechnics. Phil Rudd the drummer was in fine form ''smoking'' on stage, you have to assume that some clever Risk Assessment included his fags as part of the stage pyros!
Fired a stunning display in the Citadel in Plymouth for the 29th Artillary
Stunning display beside the Humber Bridge - we love new venues.
In the Firework Industry there are lots of different Licences required to store Fireworks. But recently Martin found a previous licence for our shop from 1942 ! Sadly the shop was only selling certain food stuff, not fireworks. Copy of Licence here.
The Bonfire season is nearly upon us. A number of videos of the fireworks performances are currently being added to the site. The distances and quality of light vary for each video, but they give a good idea of the performance. As usual we ''cherry-pick'' the best performances from many different manufacturers.
As usual several of the Big Bang staff visited Plymouth to see this years'' British Firework Championships. First place was Pendragon Fireworks, second place Star Fireworks and third place Phoenix Fireworks. We felt this was possibly the best year yet!
Cai Guoqiang, the artistic director for the Olympic fireworks, announced that firing crews would be launched from a staggering 1,800 sites around the city of Beijing, including major urban areas near Tiananmen Square and the Bird''s Nest stadium near the Olympic Village.
''We want the Olympic spirit to be seen and felt throughout the entire city on the evening of the opening ceremonies,'' said Cai, a famous Chinese artist.
Fireworks to be launched at the August 8 Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing will be environmental friendly thanks to, so-called, sophisticated technology.
Officials of the opening and closing ceremonies ann on Wednesday, July 23 that some of the fireworks would use "minimum smoke" and use advanced launch technology to minimize any kind of environmental pollution.
The fireworks will amount to 35,000 shells. The quality of the fireworks are higher than the national standard. Out of the 10,000 shells set off during the July 16 rehearsal, less than 1 percent were duds - better than the 2 percent dud shell rate according to the national standard.
Officials also declared that all necessary preparations had been made to ensure that the operation would be safe enough both for spectators and for the Bird''s Nest Stadium, one of the launch sites.
The fireworks will last 20 minutes and be launched at various places, such as the Olympic Forest, the north-south axis of Beijing and the Great Wall at Juyongguan.
Special designs have been made for the fireworks Opening Ceremony .
According to officials, fireworks showing 2008 smiling faces will be released into the sky when 2008 pictures of smiling faces are displayed at the opening ceremony at the Bird''s Nest. A computer-controlled system will display fireworks presenting a yellow dragon and red peonies.
Big Bang firing to the latest Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls theme, as performed, with a Brass Band at the Ripley Music Festival. This is the sixth year doing this event, always a challenge but the crowds reaction makes it all worth while.
China''s Fireworks Industry is facing a huge struggle to maintain its export business around the world. www.manufacturing.net/News-China-Fireworks-Industry-Struggling.aspx
More gloom from China, read about the current problems here
Bad News for the firework trade, it has confirmed that there may well be shortages of fireworks for Bonfire Night. The indirect cause is China''s hosting of the Olympic Games - although it is unlikely that fireworks made in the country for the Olympics celebrations have caused the shortage, other factors have. An export embargo from June to October on fireworks - in case an explosion may occur - has been imposed, to ensure that worldwide news coverage is favourable and ''incidents'' are avoided, however small.
Apart from scarcity, there are set to be inevitable price rises , again this year - industry sources say by as much as 30% - owing to various factors, including the reduction of Chinese government subsidies on fireworks, the cost of raw materials used to make them, and transport costs, as fuel prices rise.
New regulations come into effect today concerning the classification of several types of fireworks. Most notably, large rockets, change from hazard type 1.4G to 1.3G meaning they can no longer be shipped by a carrier. This doesn''t affect your right to buy rockets, just the way they are stored and transported. At the moment we recommend more than ever visiting our Specialist Firework Shop and purchasing directly, as the public can transport their fireworks purchases in their own vehicle.
Parliament''s debate on the EU Marketing of Pyrotechnic Articles www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmgeneral/euro/070227/70227s01.htm
Its a rivating read!
DTI firework accident statistics for 2005 now available here . A considerable reduction in firework related accidents, a trend we hope continues.
Lighting up the Knight at Belvior Castle
Nuffield Hospital staff enjoyed a stunning Firework Display over the castle battlements in October. Big Bang Fireworks staged a spectacular finale to a corporate event held at the historic venue near Grantham.
The venue is fast becoming very popular for it''s Corporate events, which are held in such marvellous rooms and it''s glorious grounds.
Although this was Big Bang''s first display at the castle the response from the castle staff (which are used to seeing firework events) was extremely encouraging, in fact even the Duke''s own butler commented how impressive the display was.
Larger budgeted displays are proving very popular for all manner of events, with the additional local media interest.
MORE THAN JUST FIREWORKS!
Ratcliffe Power Station, in the East Midlands, provided the opportunity for Big Bang Productions to show that their pyrotechnic skills are not just used for spectacular firework displays. As part of "Operation Gamma" the safety and security procedures of one of the UK's largest electricity producing power stations was placed under test, as part of increased security measures since September 11th. After various concept meetings, risk assessments, COSHH data and safety discussions, all conducted under a high level of secrecy. A series of simulated explosions and special effects were used to test staff reactions, while adding to the realism of the exercise.
Derbyshire Joint Initiative
The Firework Displays and Bonfires Voluntary Registration Scheme.
For the second year running Big Bang Fireworks have assisted in promoting the safe working practices at Seminars with the Fire Service and Trading Standards.
For further details for this year contact the local Fire Service for a information pack
LOW NOISE DISPLAYS !
Every Firework Display has to produce a certain degree of noise, effects or stars have to be ejected into the air. Shells and bombettes have to burst their effects into the sky. Even ground fireworks will produce whistles or crackles.
But Big Bang have been looked at ways of controlling the extent of the noise levels, for clients who wish to have firework displays but need to keep the local residents or nearby farmers from complaining. The following are various fireworks not considered suitable for a Low Noise Display:
- Maroons are a very loud aerial flash/bang
- All air bomb type of effects
- Flash powder bursting units
- Shells - although on some locations certain types will be suitable
So what goes into a Big Bang "Low Noise" Firework Display, well various Roman Candles of different sizes and effects - fired in many different ways, Lancework pieces (including Heart & initials for Weddings or company logos and slogans), Large Wheels and numerous different static setpieces, large Gerbs, Waterfalls, and multicoloured cakes - which have many quieter bursting effects. All fired to obtain the maximum impact but retaining the noise level to an area in the immediate vicinity.
The firing site for a "Low Noise" display needs to be slightly larger than a totally aerial display, the setting up time is also longer, while the fallout area can be smaller, but these are only minor differences.
The most important aspect, of which ever display you choose, is our grand finale, where we cover every inch of our canvas - which for us - is the night sky! We're responsible for squeezing ever ounce of the emotion out of every man, woman and child. If they're not emotionally moved, gob-smacked, buzzing, or just plain excited at the end, then we just haven't done our job right - and that's not happened yet.
Big Bang recommend the following code of practice for responsible firework use:
- No fireworks are lit after 11pm.
- Firework displays should be sited as far as possible from neighbouring premises.
- Neighbours are advised in advance so that pets may be kept indoors.
- Firework displays are kept as short as possible.
How Does That Work ?
We try to explain and unravel the mysteries surrounding what is in a firework. Each Newsletter will hopefully give you an insight into how a component or chemical functions within various different fireworks.
A firework's star is a little pellet that is made of a pyrotechnic composition. Which is made up of a fuel(s), an oxidizer(s) and a binder(s). Most stars also have a colour agent(s) and colour enhancer(s) and some also have a neutralizer(s) too.
Stars are what provide the colour of fire we see when an aerial shell bursts in the sky, a comet trails sparks across the sky, a mine propels its colours from the ground, or a Roman candle shoots its flaming balls into the air. They are all essentially the same, but made in slightly different ways with as many variations as people can come up with.
The chemicals inside the stars determine what is burned and the temperature they burn at, which in turn determines the colours we see. A wood fire obtains it's oxygen from the air and when we look at it, we see a yellowy-orange colour, which is the colour carbon provides when it burns in the air. If we blow on it the colour becomes more orange than yellow, because we are pushing more oxygen into the fire so it burns hotter.
If you change the fuel from wood to coal, you get a slightly different colour because it burns hotter than wood. Generally a hotter fire means a brighter, stronger colour, but it also means a shorter burning time. Pyrotechnic compositions are formulated to not only provide the desired colour, but the brightness, colour saturation as well as a particular duration.
The size, shape and density of a star also has an effect on how it performs. Larger stars burn longer than smaller ones, the larger the surface area of the star, the more it burns and the faster it burns. These factors also have important ramifications to how a shell is constructed and the patterns that one can make with them when the shell bursts in the sky.
Blue is perhaps the most difficult colour of all to obtain, especially the really deep blues, and variations such as aquas, purples and violets. Reds and greens and variations on their basic colour are a little easier, but a good yellow is still has not yet been mastered by too many pyrotechnicians. Golds and silvers are fairly popular and not difficult to make. Orange is one of the easiest colours to produce, (and unless your name is Eddy, is fairly boring) and has been the basic colour used since fireworks were first discovered.
The actual colour of the physical pyrotechnic stars varies from a light grey or dark grey to black or a beige to orange, dependent on the type of fuel used. Sometimes they may have some shiny speckles, if there are any metal fuels in the composition. The colour seen in the sky is dependent on the chemicals in the stars, not the colour of the star itself.
BIG BANG QUIZ
1. Before Mount Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain on Earth?
2. Bruce Larkspur was born on December 27th, yet his birthday is always in the summer. How is this possible?
3. In what year did Christmas and New Year's fall in the same year?
4. A woman from Nottingham married ten different men from the city, yet she did not break any laws. None of these men died, and she never divorced. How was this possible?
5. Why are 1990 Ten pound notes worth more than 1989 Ten pound notes?
6. How many times can you subtract the number 5 from 25?
7. How could you rearrange the letters in the words "new door" to make one word? Note: There is only one correct answer.
8. Even if they are starving, natives living in the Arctic will never eat a penguin's egg. Why not?
9. Which is correct saying, "The yolk of the egg are white" or "The yolk of the egg is white"?
10. At Big Bang's Firework shop, you cannot take a picture of a Eddy with a firework. Why not?
11. How many news papers can you fit on a bed ?
12. There was a pyrotechnist and a doctor waiting in line for admission to the "British Tiddlywinks Championship." One of them was the father of the other's son. How could this be possible?
13. How many animals of each sex did Moses take on the Ark?
14. A clerk in the butcher shop is 5' 10" tall. What does he weigh?
15. Will has 17 fireworks and all but 9 were fired. How many are left?
Answers revealed in the next issue.
Due to the change in circumstances within the insurance industry recently, we would advise that you check all insurance details from each company you may ask to quote for a display, as we are aware that some companies will not be able to afford or obtain insurance cover. This should, eventually, stop all the "cowboy companies" which operate in the firework industry but please be on the look out.
The history of the invention of gunpowder is shrouded in mystery. Most sources suggest that *blackpowder was developed in China in the early 800''s.
Roger Bacon (1246-1294), the prolific English friar, scientist, and philosopher mentions the explosive properties of saltpetre mixtures in his "De secretis operibus artis et naturµ", though he does not lay claim to the discovery. Though Roger Bacon was acquainted with gunpowder, it did not see general use in Europe until after his time.
Berthold Schwarz, a German monk, is sometimes credited with the invention of gunpowder, based on his improvements to the Roger Bacon formula. He took the name of Berthold in religion, to which was appended the adjective Schwarz (black), either on account of the colour of his habit or because he was looked on as being addicted to the black art. It was in the course of his studies in alchemy that he discovered the explosive properties of gunpowder, which he applied to firearms. While it is perhaps impossible to determine with certainty whether he was the first to make the discovery of gunpowder, it is commonly agreed that the invention of firearms is due to him.
The first recorded use of gunpowder in firearms in Europe is a statement by St. Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great) in 1280 stating that gunpowder was used at the siege of Seville in 1247, referring to a type of cannon.
So, though we know of the involvement of many colourful people and places, the exact parentage of blackpowder is shrouded with smoke as dense as the powder itself produces. Blackpowder is a mixture of 75% Potassium Nitrate (Saltpeter, KNO3), 15% Charcoal (Carbon, C), and 10% Sulphur (S). Sodium nitrate has been used in times past in place of the potassium nitrate, but is inferior. Blackpowder burns rapidly. The Charcoal serves as the fuel, Sulphur is the binding agent, and the Potassium Nitrate is the oxidizer. When blackpowder burns, it produces Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Methane, Hydrogen Sulphide, Hydrogen, and Nitrogen.
Blackpowder is a comparatively inefficient powder. One gram of blackpowder gives you 718 calories of heat, 270 cubic centimeters of gas, and about half of a gram of residue. Upon ignition, the sulphur burns, producing hydrogen sulphide, and the saltpeter decomposes, releasing free oxygen molecules, sustaining combustion, and combining with the carbon of the charcoal to form carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Heat energy is released as the gas expands. Sulphur will vaporize at 832.28 degrees F. The principal gases formed are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide,and nitrogen. About one third of the gas created is nitrogen. The solid products are potassium carbonate, potassium sulphate, and potassium mono- and higher sulphides, and carbon. The white smoke and fouling of blackpowder comprise the solids are produced upon combustion. Typically the fouling residue left after firing is approx. 50% of its original weight.
Blackpowder residue consists of Potassium Carbonate, Potassium Sulphate, Potassium Sulphide, Potassium Thiosulphate, Potassium Thiocynate, Carbon, and Sulphur. All the Potassium compounds are salts, considered corrosive. The sulphides in the emissions create the nostril-flaring rotten egg smell.
In the manufacture by introducing moisture, the blackpowder solidifies and could then be pressed into cakes. Further processing broke it into uniform grains by passing it through screens. This corning process, developed in the year 1500 or so, was a major breakthrough in gunpowder technology. Corning is defined as "forming into grains."
Blackpowder is surface burning, therefore, the holes in the screens control the grain size and the burn rate. By corning the powder, it was safer to transport, the components would not separate out, the powder was easier to load in small arms, and it provided a significant increase in consistency. Burn rate was also governed by making the powder into larger or smaller compressed grains. "Radman" grains are perforated so the hole increases the surface area while the outer surface decreases the area when burned.
Blackpowder as normally used produces relatively low pressure versus modern smokeless powders, so a large amount is needed and this larger weight increases the recoil of the firearm by adding it to the ejecta.
Black powder, is classified as a low-grade explosive. When it is ignited by fire - it explodes. When unconfined, it produces an enormous whoosh and a thick cloud of white smoke. Confined inside a gun''s chamber, and inside the bullet''s case, it behaves (as best it can) likewise, raising tremendous pressures, until the bullet is pushed out of the case by the pressure and starts its way down the bore. With black powder, this initial thrust creates the highest pressure, which then dissipates rapidly as the bullet heads downbore.
Then came smokeless powder, so-called because it produces less smoke than its predecessor. This is classified not as an explosive, but as a propellant. Ignite a pile of it in the open, and it just burns, usually rather slowly. Inside the cartridge case, it combusts more rapidly, yet still slower, than black powder. Even as the bullet begins its journey down the bore, the smokeless propellant is still burning, still combusting, still expanding. Pressures, while initially somewhat lower than those of black powder, do not drop off rapidly, but instead are sustained until the bullet leaves the barrel. This pressure curve is altogether different from black powder''s rapid spike and incline, and the stresses it puts on a gun are altogether different. The answer of course is in the pressure curve: the Blackpowder spike and rapid decline, versus the lower overall but much longer sustained push of smokeless.
* In the firework industry we refer more to Blackpowder than Gunpowder although basically the same, Gunpowder grains are usually polished with graphite, giving it a shiny appearance.