So you want to use pyro with your worship service?
The use of pyrotechnics during worship services and programs has been gaining in popularity in the last 10 years. Increasing the “wow” factor of worship services and youth programs, and increasing attendance therefore continues to be a motivating factor when deciding to incorporate pyrotechnics.
Prestonwood Baptist Church uses pyrotechnics within their Christmas production every year, Easter programs nationwide incorporate different special effects involving pyrotechnics, and even services around the Fourth of July use pyrotechnics to create excitement and heighten patriotism. Special presentations, such as ‘hell houses’ or other programs have also been incorporating pyrotechnics to startle, excite, and otherwise intensify emotional responses.
Certain evangelical programs such as Acquire the Fire and Glory and the Fire have incorporated the use of pyrotechnics into their presentations to appeal to younger Christians. Events such as these are normally held in large public venues, and pyrotechnics have been planned as part of the show from day one. When deciding to use indoor, or proximate, pyrotechnics, a close examination of several factors is called for. While recent accidents have raised awareness of the risk involved when using proximate pyrotechnics, proper planning, placement, and execution of pyrotechnic effects can have inspiring yet safe results.
When considering pyrotechnics, one of your first phone calls should be to your insurance company. You may need to have your insurance agent examine the possibility of additional coverage should you choose to utilize pyrotechnics. Make sure your liability and property insurance are in effect should pyrotechnics be used in your facility. Many churches we speak to have asked members of the congregation or technical staff to undertake responsibility for the use of pyrotechnics at the facility. A close examination of worker’s compensation and liability insurance is critical when church employees and volunteers are involved, as either technicians or performers.
Another of the first calls should be to your local fire officials. Fire codes within your city, county, state, etc. may prohibit the use of pyrotechnics indoors. There may be local, state, or federal licensing to be obtained for pyrotechnics to be used in your facility. There may be a more intensive fire inspection of your facility, and there may be storage requirements to be fulfilled. As churches are usually considered a place of public assembly, your facility may require a sprinkler or other fire suppression system, as well as additional air handling capacity, and careful examination of exit routes in the facility.
After you have talked to your insurance company and fire officials, the next call is to a qualified pyrotechnician in your area. The cost of contracting qualified personnel at the outset should be considered an investment in safety. Qualified in this instance refers to those with experience, licensing, and insurance. Qualified pyrotechnic personnel are highly familiar with the laws in your area, as well as the National Fire Protection Association Standard 1126, Standard for the use of Pyrotechnics before a Proximate Audience.
Qualified pyrotechnicians will be able to examine your facility with an eye for safety, and can make recommendations for the types of products you would probably want to use or avoid. You may be able to contract with your pyrotechnic company to install or oversee purchase of your pyrotechnic firing system, train personnel from within the congregation and staff, and provide ongoing support for supply and maintenance.
Choosing a qualified pyrotechnician or company may be difficult, especially if you are not in a major metropolitan area. Your local fire official may be able to tell you whom they have worked with in the past, and recommend a pyrotechnician or company accordingly. If your local fire officials are not able to recommend someone, your state fire officials are the next resource to ask. Other fireworks companies may also be able to make recommendations for pyrotechnicians experienced with proximate pyrotechnics.
Pyro in your facility can be a reality. Careful examination of the space, proper permitting, planning, and placement, and execution by qualified personnel all add up to more excitement and returning worshipers.