An introduction to Special Effects Fire Safety


Special effects production for films, television, live concerts and theatre settings is a complicated process. It requires great planning and meticulous preparation. Special effects production can include flames, fire, pyrotechnics, fireworks, lighting, heat, smoke or vapour effects. With all of these, the control of the environment and the safety of the team on set should be paramount.

The following guidance identifies the hazards and risks of Special Effects in addition to the safety procedures that you must take.


The Producer must ensure that the special effects contractor is competent for the work required and provides a detailed risk assessment for the effect. The knowledge, skill and experience needed to be “competent” will vary for different tasks. Levels of competency are recommended by the Joint Industry Grading Committee, special effects personnel being graded according to their knowledge, skill, experience and training.

Risks Assessments

Wherever possible protection must be achieved by eliminating or reducing the hazards associated with the effect e.g. by using a safer alternative or the smallest possible amount of material.


Adequate arrangements must be in place for communicating the risks and safety arrangements to all those involved.


To ensure the safety of the production team and cast there must be a thorough rehearsal under performance conditions. The artistes involved must be present and they must be made fully aware of the actions required.


In the event of a misfire no-one must approach area until adequate time has passed defined by the pyrotechnic and firing circuit in use. The procedures detailed in the risk assessment will include details of:

  • SFX specialists who will make the area safe
  • The personal protective equipment they will use
  • Exclusion zones
  • Steps to take to make the effect safe
  • Steps for disposing of material.


Before commencing any effect, checks should be made by the Producer, supported by the special effects team, to ensure exclusion zones are in place, emergency plans are in place and that all appropriate PPE is worn.

IC International are able to provide technical advice for film, television, concert and theatre industries. This is especially when considering fire related issues on set. IC International have years of experience in the industry, working alongside special effects personnel, to assist in whichever way possible. Whether a high temperature fabric/textile or a bespoke, tailor-made item required for a particular scenario, they will have the solution for you.

For more information on Special Effects Fire Safety contact IC International today:








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