This week, the Cal Fire Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Office has been teaching fire safety officers, firefighters and production personnel all the laws and related information needed to have safe productions.
Using the Burbank Fire Department’s training facility, the class had guests from many states including New Mexico and Georgia and even as far away as Canada.
Pyrotechnics are used in many film and television productions along with artificial smoke, gunfire, electrical shorts and many other explosive and hazardous techniques.
On Thursday, November 7, the group ventured from the classroom to the Burbank Fire Department’s Helipads near Starlight Bowl. Eric Elias, a state-certified pyrotechnics technician, showed off hundreds of different tools of the trade and how to deal with them safely and properly.
The final demonstration which had everyone in anticipation was the “body burn.” Stuntman Stephane Fiorenza suited up with many layers of protective materials. A gel-like material was spread over his entire body. When exposed to warm air, the gel changes, so time is of the essence.
The safety of the actor or stuntperson is a priority, so before shooting a scene, the stunt coordinator goes over every detail. When the director calls “rolling,” everything moves quickly. The seconds are counted out so the stuntperson who will be on fire can hear everything. During Thursday’s stunt, the safety officers had four CO2 extinguishers ready to extinguish the actor.
Thursday’s demonstration scene went off and in 18 seconds the burning actor ran, arms swinging, and he hit the ground giving the signal to extinguish the flames.