Fire Arts Safety
Check Fire Spinning Equipment
Always check your equipment before you use it. Check that hardware is not loosening, check handles, and trim any frayed wick or wire.
What to Wear
Wear tight fitting natural fiber clothing. Plastics (fleece!) not only catch fire quickly, they will also melt to your skin. Yuck. Fire test costumes before performing, or don’t wear anything =) Conceal or dampen long hair.
Never Spin Fire Alone
It’s pretty hard for you to see if your back is on fire. Make sure your Fire Safety Tech is in the ready position with a wet wool blanket or towel and that you both know where your extinguisher & first aid are!
Safety of Others
Check out your location for flammables. Be aware of local fire bans, trees close by and local regulations and permits if required. Ensure your fueling station is well marked, out of reach of your audience and well away from the area you’re fire spinning in. Your Fire Safety Tech should keep an eye on the fueling station and ensure that onlookers keep a respectable distance.
Fuel is a subjective element of fire spinning, and we suggest you experiment to find the fuel/mix that works best for you. Keep in mind that you’re breathing the fumes of your fire.
We have heard of Klean Heat and Australia Fire Water, but we have not tested them out yet.
Camp fuel/white gas is the most popular for indoor performances and cleaner burns. It has a whiter flame, is less smoky and evaporates quickly which means shorter burn times. If you have tools pre-dipped & waiting during a fire performance, triple plastic bag them to slow down evaporation.
A mix of lamp oil and kerosene is popular for outdoor fire spinning performances. Lamp oil burns a bit cleaner, Kerosene is smokier, and mixed together you’ll get a longer burn time and hotter orange flames. Lamp oil tends to spray and leaves an oily residue on the ground or stage. If you’re using it, let your fire tools burn off with slow movements for a bit so you that you don’t spray the audience. If you have fire breathers performing with lamp oil, have a plan for where they spray & clean up after they are done, or cover their stage area with a tarp that you can quickly and easily remove. This will help your fire dancers stay standing.
(Before the first use of your new fire tools, you’ll want to soak your tools in fuel for around an hour. This will allow time for your wick to become saturated with fuel. After de-virginizing your wick, soaking your tools in fuel for a minute or two is usually long enough.)
Fuel Dumps & Environmental Fuel Management
An optimum fuel station will consist of; an area roped off from the audience with easy access for you and enough room for you to dip your toys and spin off, and two containers (one Dipping Bucket, one Spin Off Bucket). A paint can with a lid works best for the dipping bucket. Secure the lid after dipping before you light up. A spin off bucket (a bucket with a handle) will capture your excess fuel, which can be added back to your fuel bucket. This is much better than soaking the earth, your surroundings, and audience.
Let your fire tool’s excess fuel drip back into your dipping can, place your soaked wick in the bucket, hold the toy and the handle of the bucket together a couple of inches above the bottom of the bucket, swing the bucket in circles, and then take out your toys and pour the excess fuel back in your dipping bucket.
Advanced fire spinners may play with excess fuel, but we don’t suggest this until you are quite comfortable with both fire dancing and fire safety.
Extinguishing Equipment & Extending Tool Life
This summer we picked up a tip that will help extend the life of your Kevlar wicks: don’t let your tool burn out (because as your fuel runs out your wick will start to burn).
Instead, pass your flame to one of your fire spinning friends and and then before your fuel runs out extinguish your tools. Either blow your tools out from the bottom of the wick, or if blowing twice doesn’t do it, completely smother with a wet wool blanket or towel or piece of duvetyn and then immediately dip your fire tool into fuel to cool the wick down. This works best for fire spinning tools that do not have a large metal core. If your toys have red glowing metal cores wait until they have had a chance to cool down before dipping.
First Aid for Burns
Hold your burn under gently running cool water for about ten minutes to return the area to normal body temperature. Remove jewelry from the affected area, unless it is stuck to the flesh. Cover your burn with a sterile, not-stick dressing. Tea tree oil is a very good treatment for burns. Drink water, never alcohol – alcohol thins the blood and slows the body’s ability to heal itself. Seeking medical attention is never a bad idea. Pouring cold water over your dressing can alleviate pain. Do not apply lotions or moisturizers, Do not prick blisters, Do not over cool with ice, and Do not put towels or adhesive bandages directly on your burn.
First Aid for Pressure Splits
Pressure splits are another common injury and occur when your tools hit your body hard enough to cause an open wound. Apply pressure to these wound with a clean cloth or towel. Head wounds will bleed a lot so don’t be alarmed by the amount of blood that comes from a small pressure split on the head. Applying Tea tree oil can help your blood coagulate and relieve some of your pain. If you feel dizzy or nauseous seek medical attention, as you may a concussion.
In the opinion of those at West Coast Juggling, lamp oil (liquid paraffin) should be the primary fuel used with all West Coast Juggling products. White gas can be used but the danger factor and the temperature rise dramatically. A trained safety should be present at all times during the fire performance and proper safety equipment should be readily available. Always spin all access fuel off a good distance from performance area prior to igniting, and always be aware of what you are spinning fuel towards.
Have Fun & Be Safe
Information courtesy of Nick Woolsey @ www.playpoi.com