Monday, September 18, 2006

China Fireworks bring joy, sorrow to Sping Festival

BEIJING, Feb. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The return of fireworks to traditional Lunar New Year celebrations brought much joy to revelers, but also sorrow to some parts of the nation.

In Beijing, where a 12-year ban on fireworks had just been lifted, explosions injured 112 people, said the State Administration of Work Safety, quoted by Wednesday's China Daily.

Seventeen people suffered serious eye injuries, and another 26 were admitted to hospital with various types of wounds.

According to the Beijing News Daily, the city's environmental protection bureau collected 458 tons of waste fireworks on Jan. 29, the first day of the Lunar New Year.

In Chongqing Municipality, southwest China, firefighters rushedto extinguish 191 fires caused by fireworks on the Lunar New Year's Eve.

About 3,000 firefighters gave up the chance to spend the holiday with their families to remain on duty.

Experts said the lifting of the ban would help preserve traditional Chinese culture. But others said the return of fireworks would lead to more serious pollution, fires, injuries and deaths.

On Sunday, an explosion in Linzhou, a city in Henan Province, central China, killed 36 people and injured 48 others.

The explosion occurred when firecrackers in a storehouse were accidentally ignited, the State Administration of Work Safety saidin a statement.

Although there were disagreements, the governments in more than100 Chinese cities lifted the ban on fireworks last year.

Beijing also lifted the ban after a survey found that 70 percent of residents felt fireworks made the holiday period more festive.

The new rules allow Beijing residents to explore fireworks all day and all night on Jan. 28, and from 7 a.m. to midnight every day from Jan. 29 to Feb. 12.

With the aim of ensuring safety, about 3,000 police and community officers have been sent to patrol off-limits areas such as schools, retirement homes and sites of historic relics.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

confetti is going to replace fireworks?

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Ultimate Rockets

It's a pyrotechnist's dream come true: 55,000 rockets blasting off at the same time. University of Plymouth's Roy Lowry chats about his attempt to break the simultaneous-rocket-firing world record. Wired News interview by Nigel Watson.

In mid-August, a U.K. chemistry professor attempted a Guinness World Record by launching 55,000 fireworks at the same time.

Roy Lowry of the University of Plymouth is waiting for official confirmation of his record, but before he lit the fuses, he told Wired News about the preparations.

Wired News: What type of rockets are you using?

Roy Lowry: Our rockets are quite small -- they are 7 inches long. They are standard rockets that you can buy in the shops; they are not special. We will be putting them into 15 specially built 4-feet-square wooden frames.

These frames have a mesh wire on the top and in the middle. The middle wire grid holds the stick of the rocket and the top grid holds the base of the rocket. The top grid is laced with something called "black match," which is basically gunpowder in a tube. This is an old-fashioned method of igniting the rockets.

We plan to get 4,000 rockets into each frame. There will be an electrical igniter for each frame and they will all be wired to a black box with the red firing button. On (Aug. 16), a team from Fantastic Fireworks and lads from the local Air Training Corps will put the fireworks in the frames. These will be counted by volunteers from Plymouth University and five bank tellers. There will be two witnesses to make sure that the rockets are counted properly, and they will decide if any re-counting is required.

WN: Do you foresee any particular problems?

Lowry: We do have several headaches. One problem is the weather: The slightest damp turns (the rockets) into duds. We are particularly vulnerable to the weather when we start stacking the rockets into their frames on the morning of the event. We have tarpaulins to cover them but this then makes it difficult for us to count the rockets.

Technically, this is not a difficult procedure, but we are dealing with rockets that amount to about a quarter ton of gunpowder all being set off at once. Since the rockets will be packed so close together -- roughly two rockets per square inch -- there is bound to be midair collisions. I'll be launching them wearing a visor and hard hat for safety reasons. There will only be me and a video camera within the 100-meter exclusion zone.

Afterwards, any rockets that do not launch will be deducted from the number we put in the frames. I figure we should launch at least 55,000. To find out if we get the record we have to submit a package of evidence, and it will take six weeks to find out if you have broken the record or not.

WN: What made you try this record attempt in particular?

Lowry: I was in a hot office marking coursework when Plymouth City Council asked me to come to a meeting to discuss this and it was a great draw.... When they asked me for ideas, I suggested going for an established record. This record had stood for eight years and was ready for knocking.

WN: Was this difficult to organize?

Lowry: The current record holder, Terry McDonald, launched 39,210 rockets in 1997 at the Battle of Flowers Moonlight Parade in the Channel Islands. I rang him up and he gave me plenty of helpful advice. He said he had planned to launch 40,000 rockets but 790 failed to ignite.

Within days of deciding to go ahead with this project, Black Cat Fireworks offered to provide the rockets. The Guinness World Records rules say that they must be individual rockets that are designed to reach an altitude of 30 meters (100 feet), and they all must take off within a five-second window. So we were given a lorry load of rockets, which amounts to about 60,000 rockets.

Another company, Fantastic Fireworks, provided the frames and fusing, and Plymouth City Council have helped organize things and fund us. The Event Services Association TESA have also worked on the risk-assessment, logistics, crowd control, health and safety issues.

Tighter controls loom for public sale of fireworks

Tighter controls loom for public sale of fireworks

Auckland City's Economic Development and Sustainable Business Committee has agreed to support work being carried out by central government to address public concerns about the sale and use of fireworks.

Led by the Ministry for the Environment with the Environmental Risk Management Authority and Auckland police and fire services, a paper recommending a range of fireworks regulations and measures will be presented to the Cabinet calling for tighter controls.

Councillor Richard Northey, committee chairperson says the council supports this central government work programme and will notify the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Auckland Issues accordingly.

"Harmful incidents from fireworks are escalating annually. The central government's work programme is all about reducing these occurrences and protecting public safety.

"We believe that appropriate changes to fireworks regulations should reduce the amount of damage to people, property and pets stemming from the deliberate misuse of fireworks that occurs every Guy Fawkes season," Mr Northey said. In response to calls of concern from community boards, police, the fire service, SPCA and other groups over the irresponsible use of fireworks, the council has agreed to another temporary ban in public space along Tamaki Drive for Guy Fawkes from 3 - 5 November 2006.

The ban covers all beaches and parks along Tamaki Drive - Watene Reserve, Okahu Bay, Orakei Domain, Whenua Rangatira (Bastion Point), Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, Selwyn Domain, Kohimarama Beach, Vellenoweth Green, St Heliers Bay Beach, Ladies Bay and Achilles Point.

"We don't want to stop people having fun and celebrating Guy Fawkes but we do have a responsibility to minimise the rise of injuries and the impact on animals," says Mr Northey.

The ban does not apply to fireworks on private property.