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What can a professional fireworks crew do for you?

There’s a world of difference between setting off some fireworks in your garden and hosting a professional managed display.

For most occasions, the former is all you need to mark a special event or host a party with close friends and family.  Professional displays are significantly more expensive than buying fireworks online and firing them yourself, but they do offer a huge number of benefits.

For occasions such as weddings, corporate events and those really big celebrations, it can be well worth spending extra to get the professionals in. But what do professional crews provide that you can’t do yourself? Here are just a few things for starters:

  1. Comprehensive insurance. So many people forget about insurance when planning fireworks events. But what happens if one of your fireworks damages a neighbour’s property, or if someone gets hurt and holds you responsible? These are the kinds of things that a good insurance policy can cover, and which comes as standard when you use a professional crew.
  2. A 100% safe display. Peace of mind is right up there with the top reasons to use a professional fireworks company. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the show in full confidence that an experienced, highly trained team is managing the display safely.
  3. Exceptional quality fireworks. The fireworks a professional crew use in their display won’t necessarily be the same ones that you can buy online. Professionals can use higher grade fireworks in their shows, some of which have simply incredible effects.
  4. Site management. A lot of work goes into site management, from choosing the site and planning a safe layout to supervising safety on the day. The professionals can handle all of this for you.
  5. Keeping an eye on the weather. Did you know that the weather can affect the quality of a fireworks display? Too much wind in the wrong direction can create an overly smoky show where the effects of the pyrotechnics are lost. A professional company use state-of-the-art resources to keep a close eye on the weather, so you can focus on planning other aspects of your event.
  6. Personalise the show. Want to choose the bride and groom’s favourite colours, include a favourite piece of music or use company branded colours? A professional designs the display from scratch, so they can include pretty much anything you like.
  7. Computer programming for split-second precision. This is technical work and requires a lot of skill, but it means that your show runs like clockwork.
  8. Make fireworks perform to music. You need time, experience, skill and a certain amount of specialist editing equipment to design a display that ‘dances’ to music, but the effect is spectacular.
  9. Create something truly unique and spectacular. Above all, a professional fireworks specialist can create that wow factor. If you really want to impress, it has to be a professional.

Need help with an upcoming fireworks event? Get in touch with the expert team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks, we’ll be happy to help.

Wedding fireworks – a guide to planning picture-perfect pyrotechnics  

Summer wedding season is here, which means a flurry of sunset fireworks displays marking the close of a thousand special days. If you’re currently hunkered down planning your own big day, fireworks are an important consideration.

Here are 6 crucial points to remember when planning your own show-stopping wedding fireworks display:

  1. Consider the season

If you’re holding a summer wedding (in summer 2019, for example) you’ll need to keep an eye on what time it gets dark. A sunset fireworks display can be extremely beautiful, but you may also want to wait until it gets properly dark – without it being so late that you fall foul of local authority rules. Timing is crucial with this one!

  1. Will your guests be able to appreciate your fireworks?

This is another point about timing. If you stick with tradition and wait until the end of the night for your display, will your guests (and the happy couple themselves) be in a fit state to really enjoy them? If you’re concerned about spending money on entertainment that may not be fully appreciated, perhaps hold your display earlier in the day. It can be an unusual surprise to have fireworks in the daytime, such as when the newlyweds are first announced to their guests or following a reception toast.

  1. How long should the display be?

This largely depends on budget, but you should also think about value as well as the comfort of your guests. For example, if you’re planning a December wedding, you don’t want to keep your freezing guests outside for too long.

  1. Is your venue happy with fireworks?

Not all venues permit fireworks so you should always check very early in the planning process, especially if you’ve chosen a more unusual venue in which to tie the knot.

  1. Check in with your photographer

Capturing fireworks on film is not as easy as you may think, and most people who try end up with blurred, over-exposed images unless they have the right experience and equipment. Professional wedding photographers should be able to do a decent job though, so have a chat beforehand so that your photographer can make their plans. You may even want to shop around for photographers with this in mind.

A final point to consider on this is that not all photographers stay into the night, with many clocking off after the first dance. If you’d like the photographer to capture the display, you’ll need to make arrangements (and set some budget aside) in advance.

  1. Who will manage the display?

We’d always advise getting someone in to manage the fireworks display if it’s a wedding. You and your guests will want to relax and have a drink, and it goes without saying that people who’ve had alcohol shouldn’t be anywhere near fireworks.

It’s usually best to leave the responsibility of running a beautiful, safe display to the professionals. Just give the 1st Galaxy team a call on 0115 8559000 if you’d like to discuss options for your wedding fireworks.

What to do if a firework doesn’t go off (and what not to do)

1st Galaxy Fireworks

You’ve spent weeks and months planning the perfect fireworks display and the big night has finally arrived. The audience is in thrills of anticipation as the first firework is lit. But what if it doesn’t go off?

A fizzled-out firework can be an anti-climax to say the least, but what should you do to stay safe and save the show if the unthinkable happens? And how can you stop it happening in the first place? Let’s take a look at what to do, and what not to do, if a firework doesn’t go off.

Do not approach the firework

Your first instinct when a firework doesn’t go off is to pop back for another look. This is absolutely the worst thing to do, as it could suddenly go off unexpectedly and cause you very serious injury. People have suffered burns and other injuries by returning to a firework in this way. They imagine they can simply relight it, but you just can’t take the risk that the firework could suddenly go off.

Leave it overnight and Soak it in water

The best way to deal with a ‘dud’ firework is to leave it until the end of the night. As long as it’s safe to do so and you have enough space to relocate the firing zone, you can carry on with the rest of your display. Just remember to avoid that area completely, and you could even tape or mark it off so that spectators don’t stray near. Before the end of the night, completely soak the firework in water from a safe distance and then completely submerge it in water for as long as you can. However it is not permissible to throw live or part fired fireworks into a natural water source, such as a river, or pond, in order to avoid any contamination by the explosive powders contained inside, so please avoid doing this.

In the morning

The next day, you can either take it to the local landfill so long as the firework you soaked the night before is completely wet through and has been rendered useless so far as being able to be ignited again, or it is permissible to dispose of with your household domestic rubbish. You can also call fireworks experts such as the 1st Galaxy Fireworks team for advice on the next step to take.

How to avoid ‘dud’ fireworks

When you buy from a reputable supplier selling certified, quality approved products, you shouldn’t have a problem with dud fireworks. If you buy cheap, you usually get what you pay for. Fireworks sold on websites that lack credibility or are offered at bargain basement prices can produce a lot of smoke, may misfire or may fail to go off altogether. Buy quality and you won’t need to worry about fireworks that don’t go off.

Other ways to avoid dud fireworks in the future include:

  • Always storing fireworks in a safe, dry space and in their original UN packaging boxes, and do not drop or miss handle them.
  • Checking the sell-by date on fireworks – for example, if you’ve bought them from somewhere dodgy or you’re unsure of the age of the fireworks
  • Read all instructions about safe and correct lighting of fireworks.

Remember, if you ever need help with buying, storing or lighting fireworks, the 1st Galaxy team are on hand to help. We’re passionate about firework fun and safety, so we’re the ideal place to turn if you have a question or need some advice. Just get in touch – call on 0115 8559000 or email sales@1stgalaxy.co.uk.

How quiet fireworks can be incredibly beautiful

For some people, fireworks just wouldn’t be fireworks unless they’re LOUD. The earth-vibrating, bass-filled booms and bangs of a pyrotechnics display are what make fireworks so incredibly exciting, and the louder the better.

However, not everyone appreciates the noise that fireworks make. Considerate organisers are aware that fireworks can irritate residents and neighbours of display sites if proper measures aren’t taken, and pets can have a really tough time on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.

A closer look at quiet fireworks

You may be surprised to learn that there is such a category in the pyrotechnics world as quiet fireworks. At 1st Galaxy Fireworks, we have a wide choice of fireworks that have a noise rating of just 1, which indicates low noise.

These fireworks – which include everything from cakes and candles to every wonderful kind of fountain – make just a fraction of the noise of normal pyrotechnics. You need not think that they are any less exciting though, as the makers of quiet fireworks go to a special effort to ensure that their products create extraordinarily beautiful effects to compensate.

For example, you can find glittering waterfall or hypnotic falling leaves battery fireworks, which produce gorgeous effects perfect for romantic occasions such as weddings. Fountains are another popular choice in the quiet category, as they come in such a staggering variety of different types. Take your pick from gold or silver conic fountains, dancing fountains, multi-coloured crackling plume fountains and many more.

Most are suitable for use in the garden and best of all, they won’t annoy the neighbours with their noise. You get all of the wonderful colour, just a touch of sizzle and crackle, all of the excitement – but none of the terrifying booms and bangs.

When quiet fireworks are an ideal choice

There are many times when low noise rating fireworks could be just what you’re looking for, to keep everyone happy and enjoy a mesmerising display. Examples include:

  • Summer night-time events. In summer, it gets dark much later. Fireworks are best in the dark as we all know, as you can appreciate the effects against a dark backdrop. If you’re holding a display in summer, you may have to wait until later in the evening until it goes dark. Provided you’re still within the time period approved by your local authority, you can hold a quiet firework display as soon as it goes dark and not upset anyone who has to be up early the next morning.
  • Displays in built-up areas (with lots of pets nearby). If you’re worried about upsetting neighbours or are an animal lover worried about all those terrified cats and dogs in the neighbourhood, quiet fireworks can ease your conscience.
  • Out of season events. Everyone expects a lot of noise around NYE and Bonfire Night, but firework noise can be an unwanted surprise at other times of year.

To find out more about quiet fireworks or to shop our collection, head over to the 1st Galaxy Quiet Fireworks page.

Planning a big public fireworks display? Here’s how to create an event management plan

For small-scale displays in back gardens and local communities, you don’t usually need to complete a detailed health and safety risk assessment or event management plan. All it takes is some background reading on how to use fireworks safely and some planning into safety on the site.

However, for large-scale public events where you’re expecting thousands or even tens of thousands of people to attend, you need to do some serious planning. An event organiser is responsibly for the safety of everyone in attendance, and there’s also plenty to do to ensure the display comes off smoothly and really wows those crowds. Here’s a handy set of pointers to help you start your event management plan:

  • Call in a specialist. Once your event reaches a certain size or scale, you’re going to need specialist help. This is especially important if you plan to use fireworks in a category that can only legally be fired by professionals. A specialist display organiser such as 1st Galaxy can use their expert knowledge to plan, advise and run the display for you on the day. This means it is guaranteed safe – in everything from use of fireworks to site layout – and also guaranteed to have the wow factor you’re looking for.
  • Engage the local authority. Contacting the local council with details of your plans should be one of the first things you do. The local authority must be informed and they may also require details of your full event management plan, insurance and risk assessments – especially if the display is taking place on council land.
  • Conduct a health and safety risk assessment. This must be very detailed, including details of every possible hazard to health and safety and how you will minimise or eliminate the risk. You also need to include a fire evacuation plan, details of access points and capacity limits on the site, and a plan for emergency situations.
  • Site planning, including access and safe firing, fallout and spectator zones. At an early stage in your planning, you should produce detailed site maps showing which areas will be for firing, fallout (where the fireworks will drop) and spectators. Plus, where fireworks will be stored and all access points. You need to make sure that everything is a safe distance apart.
  • Look into road closures, security and interaction with emergency services. You may not need to close roads or employ security services, but these are definitely things you should think about. You will need to work with local police and fire services if your event is a large public display though.
  • Monitor the weather. Fireworks can be affected by the wind, as can any gazebos, food stands or other structures on your site. Include a bad weather policy in your plans to prepare for any weather-related problems.

This may all sound like a lot of work, but it is your responsibility as an event organiser. And when you see the first spectacular pyrotechnic shoot into the sky and the reaction of the crowd, it’ll all be worth it!

Please don’t hesitate to contact 1st Galaxy Fireworks if you need our help at any stage of your planning.  

Your essential guide to fireworks categories and classifications

When shopping online for fireworks, you’re likely to have come across information about which category a particular pyrotechnic product is classed in. This info is important, as it tells you all about how and where a firework should be used, and who is allowed to buy and use it.

Up until the middle of 2017, you may have seen fireworks marked with the British Standard (BS) certification. However, this has now been phased out in favour of the following fireworks categories:

  • Category F1. This category is for fireworks that present a minimal risk, so it is usually used for products that are designed for use indoors. One of the most popular types of Cat F1 fireworks is the ice fountain, which are both safe and impressive for use on birthday cakes and for parties.
  • Category F2. These are fireworks that are on sale to the general public, and differ from Cat F3 fireworks only in the explosive power of the product – which affects the safety distance required. Cat F2 fireworks require an 8-15 metre distance between the spectators and the firing zone, depending on the product.
  • Category F3. Just like Cat F2 fireworks, these products can be bought and used by members of the general public. However, they usually require a safety distance of at least 25 metres.
  • Category F4. This category is for fireworks that are only to be used by professional fireworks display organisers. Members of the public cannot buy and use them, as they are more powerful than other products and can be dangerous if used by someone without the right knowledge, experience and training.

On the subject of safety distances, most products now recommend leaving at least 25 metres between spectators and the firing zone just to be on the safe side. However, this doesn’t mean that most F2 and F3 products aren’t suitable for use in the garden provided there is enough space available.

Where to find important category and safety information

When you buy fireworks online, you’ll usually find info about the category of the product in its description. Retailers such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks will only sell Category F1, F2 and F3 fireworks, and will not sell F4 fireworks to members of the public.

Information about the firework will also be displayed on the product itself. You will usually be able to see the category of the firework, along with a warning about age restrictions if applicable. Each product will also come with detailed safety information for storing and using the firework safely. If you are planning a display, it’s crucial to read all of these instructions carefully before the big day.

Finally, fireworks packaging will often tell you what to expect in terms of the performance. The label or leaflet will provide details on the effects, including how many shots and what kind of colours and finished to expect.

Have a question about fireworks categories or safety when using fireworks? Please feel free to contact the experts here at 1st Galaxy Fireworks.

First thrilling details of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks revealed

Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are widely believed to be among the biggest and best in the world, rivalled only by the amazing displays over London at the stroke of midnight on 31st December. The fireworks over Sydney’s famous opera house and harbour bridge are watched by millions of people worldwide every year.

If you weren’t already excited for New Year’s Eve 2017, you’ll be delighted to hear that the first details of Sydney’s plans for the big display have now been revealed.

Rainbow celebrations at midnight

The Daily Mail reports that a breath-taking rainbow waterfall will cascade from the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge in a dual celebration of a historic year for the LGBT community and campaigners for equality. The display will firstly pay tribute to the ‘78ers’, the first campaigners for gay rights to march in the Sydney Mardi Gras back in 1978. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras. The rainbow waterfall of fireworks will also celebrate Australia saying yes to marriage equality this year.

Other highlights of the display include the lucky winner of a firework competition for children getting to push the button to start the display at 9pm. They will also get the pleasure of seeing their own firework design fire off into the sky. Commenting on the competition ahead of the Sydney NYE celebrations, display organiser and master pyrotechnician Fortunato Foti said:

“I love seeing what kids’ imaginations come up with. I can’t wait to see what designs they come up with this year. It’s such a unique and wonderful challenge to be able take a child’s drawing and turn it into a firework that’s enjoyed by millions of people all around the world.”

5,000 hours and 15 months of planning

Believe it or not, the organisers of Sydney’s NYE 2017 fireworks display will have started their planning before a single firework for last year’s new year celebration was even fired. The display reportedly took a whopping 15 months to plan, with 1,000 accredited people and 300 volunteers spending over 5,000 hours ironing out every detail.

In terms of the numbers, fireworks fans can expect:

  • More than 8 tonnes of pyrotechnics, 28,000 fireworks in total shot from 175 different firing points on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • 100,000 unique pyrotechnic effects
  • Over 800 fireworks to be set off from the sails of the Sydney Opera House
  • Many more fireworks than NYE 2016, with 5,000 more shooting comets and 1,000 more shells.

In total, 16 computers will be used to coordinate and digitally launch all of the fireworks for the display. They will have a tough job, as managing a display of this size and scale is an enormous challenge. There are 16,500 cues to hit throughout the show, and all need to be timed to perfection. For the on the ground team, they have 18 shipping containers and 120 tonnes of equipment to unpack and set up. Yikes!

 

Forget Christmas – now’s the time to start planning your NYE fireworks

At this time of year, everyone is busy preparing for Christmas. Winding down at work, shopping for presents, cleaning and decorating the house and planning Christmas parties. In all the Christmas chaos, it’s easy to neglect the planning for the next big day of the year, which happens just a week later – New Year’s Eve!

It wouldn’t be NYE without fireworks, of course. Whether you’re planning your own display or you’ll be heading out to an organised event, here’s what you need to be doing right now to get ready for the big night…

Buy your fireworks

It’s important not to leave it too late to buy your NYE fireworks, particularly if you have certain products in mind. Fireworks are much in demand at this time of year and some of the most popular pyrotechnics and best value bundles are bound to sell out quickly. If you get them ordered now, you can avoid the mad rush just before Christmas and you’ll know you’re all set for NYE.

Find somewhere dry and safe to store fireworks

Ordered your fireworks? If you’ll be storing them for a few weeks until New Year’s Eve, you’ll need somewhere appropriate to store them. It needs to be dry and away from anything flammable, as well as any source of ignition. Fireworks should also be kept away from children and anyone under 18, so keeping them in a locked shed or cabinet could be a very sensible idea.

Get your equipment ready

If you’re setting off the fireworks yourself, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment to make sure you can manage everything safely. It’s a good idea to get hold of:

  • A good torch – head torches or wall mounted ones are recommended, as they keep your hands free
  • Gloves and other PPE – to stay safe when lighting fireworks, some good gloves are essential. Optional extras of personal protective equipment (PPE) may also be worth looking into.
  • Portfires and lighters – a long-tipped lighter can help to keep your hands away from sparks, but the best way to light fireworks is with portfires. These are tubes of pyrotechnic powder which burn for a few minutes before setting off the firework and you can light them with an ordinary lighter. However, a wind-proof lighter (as well as a spare) would be a smart purchase.

Sort out your venue

If you’re setting off fireworks in your back garden, now is the time to think about how you will use the space. You need to leave enough space between the firing zone and where the audience will stand, as well as thinking about the ‘fallout’ zone.

Inform your neighbours

A simple knock or note through the door to let your neighbours know you’ll be having a NYE display goes a long way to preventing complaints and bad feeling – you can even invite them along!

Find a local display

If you’re not setting off your own fireworks, now is a good time to research what displays will be happening locally and snap up tickets before they sell out.

How to create your own personalised pyromusical

What’s better than a jaw-dropping fireworks display? One set to music, of course! A pyromusical display can charge simple light and sound effects with real drama and emotion, turning a normal fireworks show into something truly memorable. Audiences absolutely love it.

What’s even more special about fireworks set to music is that they are perfect for personalisation. You can create your own bespoke pyromusical to add a personal touch to weddings and birthdays, as well as corporate events when you want to tailor the display to your brand and message.

Here’s how a personalised pyromusical comes together…

It’s all about the song

Unfortunately, not all pieces of music are suitable for soundtracking a fireworks display. Some may not be upbeat or punchy enough, while others may not offer the moments of musical emphasis that a pyromusical needs. An experienced display designer such as the team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks can advise you on whether or not your chosen song will work well, as well as mixing your music to make it more suitable for the display. Choose your song carefully, remembering that those that work best include:

  • Fast, high energy songs
  • Famous classical pieces of music – for example, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries
  • Power ballads and slower, dramatic songs
  • Themed songs – for example, Prince’s Purple Rain or Yellow by Coldplay where firework colours can be themed to match
  • Music that features timing to the beat
  • Songs which change tempo mid-way through – perfect for varying the display and creating drama and anticipation.

If you’re designing a display for your wedding, go for a song that has personal meaning for you and your spouse. It’s helpful if your audience is familiar with the music, and be careful with songs that feature swearing if you’re aiming for a family-friendly show.

Designing the display

Unless you’re a fireworks professional, you’ll find it difficult to plan a pyromusical display yourself. Both firework selection and timing need to be perfect to make it work, so you’ll need to call in an expert such as 1st Galaxy. The good news is that with your input, a professional can make use of the latest software and their own years of experience to create a bespoke display that matches the music. You can choose the colours and advise of your favourite fireworks, and of course you’ll have chosen the music. Once you’re happy with the display, you can even choose to be the one to start the whole thing off – pressing the button that will electronically fire the first firework on the night.

Further options for personalisation include customised fire writing, so for weddings the names of the happy couple can be emblazoned in the sky. You can even have the faces of bride and groom appear in the sky – a truly spectacular effect!

If you want to take control of your big night and help to design a bespoke pyromusical display, contact the 1st Galaxy Fireworks team to discuss your ideas.

Marvellous mines: all you need to know about these powerful pyrotechnics

1st Galaxy Fireworks 557

If you like your firework displays loud, one of the most impressive types of pyrotechnics you can choose for your next big celebration is a mine. Mines are among the most powerful and dramatic types of fireworks you can buy, designed for maximum impact and producing a bang that can be as loud as 120 decibels.

How they work

Mines aren’t like other fireworks. They don’t explode in stages – the whole contents of a mine explode all at once. The mine is packaged in a single card tube and when the fuse is lit, the explosion shoots out the end of this tube right into the sky. This sudden effect shoots coloured stars and other effects up from ground level up to several dozens of feet into the air.

Mines are one-hit effects, so it can be expensive to only include mines and no other firework types in a display. In fact, your audience may actually find a mine-heavy display a little dull as when used frequently, the shock factor produced by the sudden, loud explosion will soon wear off. Mines should be used to create sudden drama in a display, to punctuate other effects and the produce a climax to the show.

Types of mine

There are a few different types of mine to choose from – mortar, fountain and double-effect. Let’s look at each of these in turn:

  • Mortar mines. Very short in duration but heavy on impact and drama, mortars are the classic example of a mine in action. The fuse burns down into the mine, producing a stunning and booking – if short-lived at around 5 seconds or so – explosion up into the sky.
  • Fountain start mines. These fireworks start with a reasonably good quality fountain effect which burns down to the mine to produce an unexpected explosion. This injects a fantastic element of surprise into any display.
  • Double-effect mines. These double or even triple effect mines go off in stages, offering excellent value for money and filling up time in a display even if the effects themselves are a little smaller and quieter than a mortar mine.

Can anyone buy and use a mine?

Mine fireworks are Category 3 fireworks, which means that they are intended for displays rather than use in your back garden. However, they are available to the general public and can be used by non-professionals. Due to the way they fire and the explosiveness of the effect, mines require a greater distance to be left between spectators and the firing zone. If using mines:

  • Only fire them in open areas (i.e. school playing fields)
  • Leave a distance of at least 25 metres between the firing zone and spectator areas
  • Always read the instructions thoroughly before the display
  • Consider your neighbours – mines are loud, so make sure you inform people living close to the display site in advance
  • Only ever buy BS7114 certified fireworks
  • Consult a professional such as the 1st Galaxy team if you need tips or advice on using mines.