Contact us now

+44 (0)20 8646 2222

FAQs

 

Do I need a license to buy and operate pyrotechnics?

No, but it is an offence to supply pyrotechnics to anyone under 18 years.

 
 

What is the new CE Directive for pyrotechnics and the T1 and T2 categories?

From July 4th 2013 the CE Directive for theatrical pyrotechnics requires that product supplied throughout Europe be CE certified and labelled accordingly.

There has, until now, been an exemption in place that meant certain products could still be supplied until July 4th 2017 without this CE authorisation but that date has now passed.

This means that all pyrotechnic articles supplied must comply with the directive and be labelled with the relevant CE information.

The directive categorises products into T1 or T2 according to their type of use, their purpose, and level of hazard:

Category T1: pyrotechnic articles for stage use which present a low hazard. Some T1 articles are restricted for outdoor use only and will be labelled as T1 ‘for outdoor use only’ accordingly. These items remain available to the general public.

The minimum age limit for the supply of category T1 theatrical pyrotechnic articles is 18 years.

Category T2: pyrotechnic articles for stage use which are intended for use only by persons with specialist knowledge. The term stage use includes film and television productions, live events and similar theatrical use.

To qualify as a ‘person with specialist knowledge’ (and therefore be able to purchase T2 products) the purchaser must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the supplier that they have:

  • Undertaken training recognised in the theatrical profession, in relation to the type of category T2 theatrical pyrotechnic articles to be supplied;
  • Previously used category T2 theatrical pyrotechnical articles;
  • Valid public liability insurance covering use of category T2 theatrical pyrotechnic articles (may be in the name of the individual or the employer of the individual).

A person of specialist knowledge also includes:

  • Any person whose full time trade or business (or significant part of that trade or business) is the supply of category T2 theatrical pyrotechnic articles, for the purpose of supplying them in accordance with the regulations.

This means that distributors can buy and supply T2 products but must ensure that anyone purchasing them is a ‘person with specialist knowledge ‘as defined above (therefore, qualifying them as a T2 user).

T2 training
(Persons with specialist knowledge - PWSK)

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) guidance states that “the concept of training recognised in the business, industry or profession does not mean that BEIS will be recognising particular training. It is for the supplier to make such judgement as to whether the training in question is sufficient and provided by a person or body with a sufficient reputation in that sector”.

Training is however, recognised by, but not limited to, the Association of Stage Pyrotechnicians (www.stage-pyro.org.uk) and offered regularly by a variety of different hosts, suppliers and venues across the UK. Most recent of available courses can usually be found at www.stage-pyro.org.uk/training. The ASP also provides the repository for members competency in recording other aspects of appropriate training ie: fire fighting, first aid, working at height, electrical safety as well as specific T2 product training and advanced study.

Le Maitre T2 products
All of Le Maitre products are category T1 apart from the following:

  • Flash Reports
  • Plastic Maroons
  • 1 x 50 Fountains (Gerbs)
  • Cascades
  • Saxons
  • Starbursts (including those on harnesses)
  • Mortar Hit Loud Report

NOTES

  • If a customer cannot prove that they are trained and have valid insurance they cannot purchase T2 products. The supplier will be in breach of the regulations and can be liable if they are in breach of this.
     
  • A person with specialist knowledge (T2 user) can handle and/or use articles labelled T1 or T1 'for outdoor use only' in a different manner to that prescribed on the label or within the instructions for use, provided that they have taken due consideration of the hazards and risks that any deviations they make might have. A person with specialist knowledge is expected to have the knowledge to make use of T1 products in a different manner to those prescribed on the label or the instructions.

For example: a T1 'for outdoor use only' product could be used indoors, in an appropriately sized venue/space by a person with specialist knowledge if, with suitable risk assessment and preparation, they can demonstrate it safe to do so. (ref: BSI Standard Note EN 16256 Part 2 sec 4.3 Cat T2)

  • Le Maitre Limited have established and apply a quality management system, and the requirements for the quality control according to Module E, Annex II of the European Directive 2013/29/EU have been fulfilled.
 
 

Will pyrotechnics set off smoke alarms?

Yes. Some venues have the ability to set their fire alarm to performance mode. This isolates the smoke detectors in the performance area, but leaves the rest of the building protected. If the fire alarm does not have a performance mode, isolating the smoke detectors in the building can usually be done for the duration of the performance so long as the break glass call points are still active and that the venue staff are aware that the smoke detectors have been isolated. THE FIRE ALARM MUST NEVER BE SWITCHED OFF. You should always check with the venue to determine their procedures for isolating the fire alarm

 
 

Do local Councils need to be told that I will be using pyrotechnics?

Probably. If the venue has a Public Entertainment License (PEL) there will probably be a condition that you must inform the Local Authority of your intention to use pyrotechnics. The venue will be able to tell you who you should contact at the Council. Sometimes they will contact them on your behalf. The Council will usually make a visit to the venue to meet you and assess that you are complying with safety standards. They usually also request a demonstration of one of each effect - so make sure you have a spare! If the venue is on private land and does not have a PEL or an agreement with the council, this may be considered a private event and therefore there is usually no Council involvement.

Please also note that if guests pay to attend your event, you may need a temporary PEL, therefore you should inform them of your intention to use pyrotechnics. Most local authorities require 2 weeks' notice to be able to arrange a visit and compile any paperwork. When contacting the Council, try and give them as much clear and concise information as possible, including: name of effects, quantity of effects, location of effects (a stage layout with positions marked), the manufacturer details and any MSDS sheets and, if possible, a preliminary risk assessment. Also, don't forget the date of the load in and venue address.

 
 

Is it best to wire pyrotechnics in series or parallel and what is the difference?

A full description of wiring pyrotechnics can be downloaded from the safety information section of this website.

 
 

What does 1.4G and 1.4S mean?

These warning diamonds relate to shipping and now also have relevance to storage. The 1 means class 1 (explosives) the 4 is the hazard type, 4 means "Substances and articles that present no significant hazard". The S and G are the compatibility groups.

The definitions are:

G- A substance which is an explosive substance because it is designed to produce an effect by heat, light, sound, gas or smoke or a combination of these as a result of not-detonative self-sustaining exothermic chemical reactions or an article containing such a substance or an article containing both a substance which is explosive because it is capable by chemical reaction in itself of producing gas at such a temperature and pressure and at such a speed as could cause damage to surroundings and an illuminating, incendiary, lachrymatory or smoke-producing substance.

S- Substance or article so packed or designed that any hazardous effects arising from accidental functioning are confined within the package unless the package has been degraded by fire, in which case all blast or projection effects are limited to the extent that they do not significantly hinder or prohibit fire-fighting or other emergency response efforts in the immediate vicinity of the package.

 
 

I want a specific product made that you do not offer - can you help?

Yes, we have a dedicated team of pyrotechnic research professionals based at our Peterborough factory who will be able to build an effect to your specifications. Please note however that this process can be a lengthy one and we will only be able to proceed if the project is financially viable.

 
 

I have been asked for a risk assessment - can you help?

Le Maitre cannot provide blank or generic Risk Assessment forms for legal reasons. However we can offer a chargeable service to visit your venue and produce a Risk Assessment for your event. If you would like further information about this, please email: events@lemaitreltd.com or call +44 (0)20 8646 2222 and ask for Events.

 
 

Can I use a controller I built myself?

You should not use a home made controller unless it has been approved by us. There are many safety features built into our controllers to prevent accidental ignition. If you have an accident when using a home made firing system, the HSE will probably prosecute you. A home made firing system will not pass a local authority inspection.

 
 

Do I need a license to store pyrotechnics?

Possibly. You should check with your local trading standards department. The information you will need is the hazard type (Usually 4), the Net Explosive Quantity (this can be found on the side of the shipping box as NEQ or NEC) of the pyrotechnics you will be storing. You may also need to know the UN Numbers for pyrotechnics; these are 0432 for 1.4S and 0431 for 1.4G. The laws regarding the storage of explosives changed in 2005, you should check the new MSER regulations to ensure you comply. Below is a brief "in a nutshell" version of how MSER affects pyrotechnic users. 

  • You can store up to 5kg of Explosives from Hazard Type 4 without a license.
  • You can store up to 100kg of Hazard Type 3/4 for less than 3 days.
  • Pyrotechnics should no longer be stored in locked metal boxes or cabinets, instead they should remain in the outer shipping box as this box has been approved to United Nations standards

Please note that these weights only apply to the explosive content and not the gross weight. Explosive weights can be found on the SDS Sheets or on the brown delivery box (NEC or NEQ mark).
 

 
 

Where can I find the safety distances for your products?

We stopped giving our products safety distances back in 2000. There were lots of reasons for us doing this. The main reason was that many operators are using pyro at angles and sometimes even upside down. If we were to give a safety distance and someone got hurt, we could be liable. Instead of issuing safety distances, we now recommend that you fire the effect in controlled conditions outside to familiarise yourself with the effect. You can then implement any safety distances yourself and document them in your risk assessment.

 
 

Will mobile phones or radios set off pyrotechnics?

No, there is not enough RF power in a hand-held radio device to induce enough current to blow an igniter bridgewire. We recommend that you keep all electrical devices away from pyrotechnics when they are being hand-held or loaded.

 
 

Will static electricity set off pyrotechnics?

There is a possibility that static electricity could ignite pyrotechnic compositions. Static discharge could cause the igniter to fire if the static discharge is directly across the fuse head of the igniter. A spark from body to ground through a composition could theoretically ignite pyrotechnic compositions. Common sense should be used: grounding yourself by touching a screw on a plug socket before handling pyrotechnics and avoiding wearing lots of synthetic clothing would minimize the risk of static problems.

 
 

An effect I fired went wrong, what shall I do?

Thankfully instances of effects malfunctioning are extremely rare. However we are aware that it is possible. We have a procedure so that we are made aware of any potential problems and we can then make the situation right. First, please request a product report form, fill it in with as much information as possible and make sure you include the batch number. Please send the form to the person stated on the form. Ensuring that you receive a quality product is extremely important to us. We rely on end-user feedback to maintain the exceptionally good reputation our products have gained over the past 40 years.

 
 

What is the warranty cover and procedure for hardware?

The Warranty Period
The warranty covers you for 12 months from the date of purchase. Proof of purchase/sale must accompany any warranty claim.

Parts & Labour Warranty Cover
The warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship related to manufacture.

What Is Not Covered
The warranty does not cover damage as a result of abuse, poor maintenance or incorrect fluids*
*Only Le Maitre fluids should be used. Alternative fluids can damage equipment and will invalidate the warranty. 

Warranty Returns Procedure
Obtain an RA (Return Authorisation) number from our Service Department. The RA number must be clearly marked on the external packaging. Without this we cannot process your return.

Shipping is carriage pre-paid to Le Maitre Ltd. Following repair, Le Maitre will pre-pay the return shipping back to your facility. If an express return shipment is required, this should be advised in advance and you will be required to cover the difference in cost.

Le Maitre Ltd Warranty Contact Details
For all warranty issues please contact our Service Department at service@lemaitreltd.com or call +44 (0)20 8646 2222.

 
 

Why do pyrotechnics use so much packaging?

As a manufacturer Le Maitre would like to be able to do away with any unnecessary packaging - both from a green perspective and of course from a cost perspective. Unfortunately due to the requirements of the Classification and Labelling of Explosives for Transport and Storage, soon to be superseded in the Manufacturing and Storage of Explosive Regulations 2014 (MSER), we are required to use inner “receptacles” made from paper, plastic, board, metal or wood to name a few for Classification purposes. This is required to allow for damage to outer packaging and possible spillage.

Some products, such as our Flames are packaged in a plastic receptacle. This is required to enable us to ship anywhere in the world under Packaging Instruction E135, which is also a requirement for IATA and IMDG Shipments under the UN Rules. Product cannot be transported without the correct packing method being employed. Many other products require a more robust inner pack to protect them from the rigours of transport also.

Wherever possible Le Maitre does try to be as green and cost effective as possible, but in the case of packaging and transport we are required to abide by the legislation that exists.

 
 

How do I dispose of old pyrotechnics?

For small amounts of pyro (except Plastic Maroons and Microdets) you have 2 options:

  1. You can attempt to fire the device outside at a safe distance.
  2. You can immerse the device in a bucket of water for 24 hours. You should pierce any paper tops so that the water can easily permeate the device.

If you have a large amount of old pyro, we operate a disposal service. Please call 020 8646 2222 to arrange a pickup. If you have Plastic Maroons and Microdets to dispose of, you should first attempt to fire them in a bomb tank outside at a safe distance. If this is not possible, they will have to be sent back to us for disposal. You will need the correct box and labels and use a courier service that will accept 1.4G shipments. Please contact us for details. We can arrange a pickup service, but we may have to make a charge for this service. Alternatively you can bring any old pyrotechnics to either our London factory or our Peterborough factory for disposal.

 
 

Does Le Maitre run training courses?

No, currently Le Maitre does not run a pyrotechnics course. We recommend the following courses:
The Association of Stage Pyrotechnics. The ASP is a UK administered organisation for people working with stage pyrotechnics. Website at http://www.stage-pyro.org.uk

Backstage Academy.  A training centre of excellence for the creative, performance and live event production industry, leading the way for skills development within this sector. It delivers high quality, relevant and practical training in all manner of backstage skills. Based at the famous LS-Live rehearsal studio, courses take place both in its 17,500 sq ft studio and also off-site for group bookings. Its Stage Pyrotechnics course is approved by the Association of Stage Pyrotechnicians and is tutored by industry veteran Lincoln Parkhouse, of JustFX.

Website: http://www.backstage-academy.co.uk/course-information/stage-pyrotechnics-course.

To obtain a discount off any course you attend, simply quote: LEM100501.

JustFX: Providing nationally recognised Pyrotechnic Safety Awareness Courses since 2001, across the UK and Europe. Visit this link for a list of their course dates: http://www.j-fx.co.uk/#!page3/cee5