Open Flame/Pyrotechnic Effects During Stage Productions

The use of open flame or pyrotechnic effects in productions introduces unique hazards to the theater environment. The hazards have the potential to affect not only the actors, but the audience as well. As a result of the increased hazard, open flame or pyrotechnic effects must be integrated into the entire production design – from the set, to the costumes, to the stage direction. To increase the awareness of all production personnel and ensure appropriate design of the effect, Risk Management Services (RMS) has developed these requirements for the use of open flames/pyrotechnics in stage productions.


Risk Management Services Fire Prevention must approve each theatrical production that utilizes open flame or pyrotechnics. A permit for Use of Open Flame/Pyrotechnics must be completely filled out and submitted to RMS. The following information is required to complete the permit:

  • Name, title, and phone number of applicant
  • Production title, dates and number of shows
  • List of all open flame/pyrotechnic effects and the ingredients of each effect
  • Stage plan layout indicating timing, location, and duration of each effect
  • Signature of applicant, Production Stage Manager, Technical Director, and Costume Shop Manager

The permit must be submitted at least three weeks prior to the use of the open flame/pyrotechnic effect in either rehearsal or actual productions to provide time for evaluation.

Flame Proofing

All stage materials (set, costumes, scenery, props, etc.) within 5 feet (in any direction) of the open must be noncombustible or treated with fire retardant. If the open flame/pyrotechnic effect moves during the production, all stage materials along the path of the effect that come within 5 feet of the effect must be non-combustible or treated with fire retardant.

Fire Watch

When open flame or pyrotechnic effects are used, a fire watch must be staffed for each production or rehearsal when the effect is used. The fire watch must be staffed by at least two people (one for each side of the stage) who have received fire extinguisher training from the Risk Management Services Department. Fire watch personnel are required to be equipped with fire extinguishers and may not have any other duties that will require them to leave the stage left/right areas for 10 minutes before, during, and 10 minutes after the time the open flame effect is used.

Where the open flame effect only involves candles and the candles are not moved during the production, fire watch personnel need only be at their stage right/left stations during the time the candles are burning.


Risk Management Services Fire Prevention staff shall inspect all open flame conditions at least one day prior to the first production. RMS Fire Prevention staff shall witness test firings of the open flame/pyrotechnic effect during this inspection.