Fireworks – What To Look For, Watch For, and When To Duck

Veteran firefighter Kevin Gadd put this post together after a few fireworks displays he inspected in July.  Lot’s of good information for what to look for, watch for, and as far as ducking…hopefully you did the inspection.  Kevin also adds a little first due commentary about when I got to tag along on one of the inspections.


This past month I had the responsibility to be the Fire Inspector for two different fireworks displays in our Jurisdiction. Paul had the opportunity to accompany me on the first shoot along with another part time member of our department. I took the time to explain what I was looking for and what the Ohio Revised Code stated that we need to sign off on. I told them I had already completed the paperwork on my first couple visits and this was going to be the final for the show. Distances were covered such as 70’ per inch of shell for spectators They had a lot of questions and it is always a good time to conduct some training, right Paul?

Anyway here are the photos from the first show.

As you can see this shooter nailed his bracing together to form a box. This was really a lot more stable than I thought it was going to be. He also had some Cakes set out around the main shot.

This shooter decided to fire this small show electronically. The Ohio Revised Code states that anything 8” in dia. and over has to be fired electronically but the largest shell in this display was 5”.  In this case the company forgot to pack a battery and the rental van was a Sprinter Van and the battery is under the floorboard under the driver and the shooter did not have any tools to access it. Another training opportunity for Paul as he had to get pictures that I am sure he will post sometime.

Had to sneak the picture of the Sprint truck in on Kevin’s post.


Anyway the shooter was able to get a jumper box from the grounds keeper at the Country Club to shoot his show.

Overall for a small show it went off without any problems.

We were one of the fortunate places to have some rain prior to the fourth and also this display took place on the golf course so they were able to use the sprinklers to wet the area prior to the show. Having the same crew year after year helps build relationships and expectations and makes the show go smoother. I have found most of the shooters are familiar with Ohio law and know what they are doing and produce what you need without even having to ask for it.

The second show of the year took place during our local Riverfest weekend. This always tends to be a good show because of the location right across the river from the festival and the fact that the shooter does this one by hand in full view of the audience. The area has been undergoing deconstruction of the mill site that Paul had referenced earlier in his blog.

This company has pre-made racks with bolt on braces that are really stable as well.

This show was also 3 times the size as the previous show. the largest shell in this display was 5 inches. The shooters at this show had also worked at this site previously and were familar with the layout of the site. Although the contractor did level out and stone an area for the set up.

This show required Multi-jurisdictional support from the Huron Police Marine Patrol, Ohio DIvision Of Watercraft, Huron Fire Department Fire Boat, and the US Coast Gaurd to close down the boat traffic in the Huron River during the show as this was the fallout area.

This show did not go off without a hitch. In the video, during the finale, you can see the fuse string broke. the shooter had to relight it in a hurry. They had 5 shells not fire.


The State of Ohio Fire Marshall regulates fireworks and issues the permit paperwork to the company, who fills it out and sends it out to the AHJ.

The State of Ohio Fire Marshal through the Ohio Fire Academy provides fireworks training every year for pyrotechs, firefighters, law enforcement, and anyone else involved with fireworks displays, Click here for more training materials.

Pass it on!