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Fire performers – safely play with fire pro tips

This was a comment on Facebook by Roderick Marcus Jowsey in reaction to someone playing with fire for the first time.

The knowledge in this post is invaluable and thus I would like to keep it around to reference forever. Maybe you can benefit from it too.

<p class="has-normal-font-size" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="7" max-font-size="72" height="80">"I have a lot of advice to give but a lot of it pertains to professional or large scale events. So this is a little overkill for someone first trying out in a backyard somewhere. Nonetheless, you should be able to get a few things out of it that will help you be a bit safer. I keep an inhaler for if anyone around me starts to have an asthmatic attack and doesn't have theirs on them (likely not the best idea during COVID madness though). If you have long hair, tie it up and wet it down. Wear cotton, rayon, or wool. Also good to have a burn specific first aid kit. You likely won't need it, but a good thing to have around. “I have a lot of advice to give but a lot of it pertains to professional or large scale events. So this is a little overkill for someone first trying out in a backyard somewhere. Nonetheless, you should be able to get a few things out of it that will help you be a bit safer. I keep an inhaler for if anyone around me starts to have an asthmatic attack and doesn’t have theirs on them (likely not the best idea during COVID madness though). If you have long hair, tie it up and wet it down. Wear cotton, rayon, or wool. Also good to have a burn specific first aid kit. You likely won’t need it, but a good thing to have around.

<p class="has-normal-font-size" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="7" max-font-size="72" height="80">Isopar G is the best fuel but hard to get, firewater is typically similar but can get pricey with certain wicks that use a shit ton of fuel; paraffin oil is a good fallback fuel, but can leave a lot of soot. Avoid kero if you can. Alcohols burn too hot and will damage your wicks, and their flashpoint is low with a potential of poofing a fireball that can easily hurt you. Petrol is too explosive and easy to seriously hurt everyone involved. Stick to high flashpoint lower burn temperature fuels like lamp oil, kero, citronella oil if you have to cheapout, but please just use the fuels that I recommended above. They are the safest of a lot of reasons.It's always good to soak the wicks when first lighting up with that particular gear, then with a towel/cloth squeeze out the excess fuel. Then when you put out the fire, do so before your wick flicker much. This preserves the structural integrity of your wicks. This does however lower your burn time a lot. For this reason I tend to light up with more fuel then most people, and I slightly loosen my wicks the so they can carry a bit more fuel. Tighter wicks do last longer. But you do need to be careful to not let them pick up moisture when tighter as the trapped water vapor can explosively expand out and spit your wicks in the process. These are not massive concerns for most people as most manufacturers of gear have things at a good balance for the wick tightness.A old wool blanket or cotton towel work well for extinguishing flames. As you put together gear a fire blanket is good to have for people fires. But wool does work well for that. CO2 fire extinguishers are good but you need to be very careful if using them on a fueling station. This is because the presser can fling the burning fuel instead of putting out the fire. But if you using it over head of the fire it creates a cyclic downdraft that puts that fire out relatively safely.It's best to have 3 people including yourself. One on the fuel station policing your actions around the fuel, another on the extinguishing station to help you put out your wicks. It's also good to have some star pickets and a rope to hold people back.If you perform for a long time as I do, the physical exertion, the adrenaline, and the fuel fumes can make you high in a loopy kind of way. So having others who keep an eye on you can help from a safety standpoint. And last thing, don't firebreath…. like ever. It can be done with largely minimised risks, with very particular fuels, a lot of training and a lot of support crew. But the risks you still face are death, or worse surviving what should have killed you. It looks cool, it's relatively easy, it's not worth the risk to yourself or others. Just don't." – Roderick Marcus JowseyIsopar G is the best fuel but hard to get, firewater is typically similar but can get pricey with certain wicks that use a shit ton of fuel; paraffin oil is a good fallback fuel, but can leave a lot of soot. Avoid kero if you can. Alcohols burn too hot and will damage your wicks, and their flashpoint is low with a potential of poofing a fireball that can easily hurt you. Petrol is too explosive and easy to seriously hurt everyone involved. Stick to high flashpoint lower burn temperature fuels like lamp oil, kero, citronella oil if you have to cheapout, but please just use the fuels that I recommended above. They are the safest of a lot of reasons.It’s always good to soak the wicks when first lighting up with that particular gear, then with a towel/cloth squeeze out the excess fuel. Then when you put out the fire, do so before your wick flicker much. This preserves the structural integrity of your wicks. This does however lower your burn time a lot. For this reason I tend to light up with more fuel then most people, and I slightly loosen my wicks the so they can carry a bit more fuel. Tighter wicks do last longer. But you do need to be careful to not let them pick up moisture when tighter as the trapped water vapor can explosively expand out and spit your wicks in the process. These are not massive concerns for most people as most manufacturers of gear have things at a good balance for the wick tightness.A old wool blanket or cotton towel work well for extinguishing flames. As you put together gear a fire blanket is good to have for people fires. But wool does work well for that. CO2 fire extinguishers are good but you need to be very careful if using them on a fueling station. This is because the presser can fling the burning fuel instead of putting out the fire. But if you using it over head of the fire it creates a cyclic downdraft that puts that fire out relatively safely.It’s best to have 3 people including yourself. One on the fuel station policing your actions around the fuel, another on the extinguishing station to help you put out your wicks. It’s also good to have some star pickets and a rope to hold people back.If you perform for a long time as I do, the physical exertion, the adrenaline, and the fuel fumes can make you high in a loopy kind of way. So having others who keep an eye on you can help from a safety standpoint. And last thing, don’t firebreath…. like ever. It can be done with largely minimised risks, with very particular fuels, a lot of training and a lot of support crew. But the risks you still face are death, or worse surviving what should have killed you. It looks cool, it’s relatively easy, it’s not worth the risk to yourself or others. Just don’t.” – Roderick Marcus Jowsey

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Published by aninalavida

I have been a professional photographer for years now. Although I love the gloss and glamour from nightclub photography, my favourite shoot is definitely still a wedding. All the love, beauty and effort that goes into such extraordinary day. To capture it, to experience it. My passion, acknowledge yours and we work together, perfectly.

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