Firework terms explained part 2: N through to Z
A significant date in the UK, the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot and the traditional day in England when everyone wheels out their fireworks! You can let fireworks off until midnight on the 5th.
Operator fired display
Fancy name for a professional display, i.e. one where the fireworks, equipment, crew and firers are all provided in return for a fee.
Palm / palm tree
An aerial effect, usually in gold, that spreads out like the shape of a palm tree, often with crackles.
Pen lid cake
A term coined by firework enthusiasts to best describe the appearance of the multishot screech-pop cakes, whose projectiles resemble plastic pen lids.
Well-used term to describe an effect which is essentially an expanding sphere of stars.
A waterproof and bendable fuse mostly used by professionals. Currently hard to find.
Firework device mounted on a horizontal rope, its motors causing it to move rapidly from end to end several times. Seemingly unavailable under the current CE regulations.
A small wheel where the thrust is caused by a long tube of powder wrapped in a sprial, instead of separate drivers.
Where an aerial effect has a different effect in the centre as it expands, it is known as the pistil.
Metal caging and straps used to reinforce the packaging of larger cakes and rockets so they can be reclassified from the more hazardous 1.3G to the less hazardous 1.4G with subsequent implications for storage and transport. Read more.
In firework terms, a professional is someone who provides a display service to clients whereby all the fireworks, show design, firing and clearing up is catered for, usually with a crew and also using professional Category F4 fireworks. Read more.
A type of fuse widely used by professionals to link multiple items together for simultaneous firing.
The technical term in firework circles for a bang.
On larger cakes and barrages a back-up fuse is often provided in case the main one fails. This will be marked as “Reserve” or “2” on the label.
A common phrase on firework warning labels meaning to get away from the firework once you have lit the fuse.
A two-dimensional aerial effect in the shape of an expanding ring, usually made up of multiple coloured stars.
Rocket pod / volley
A once-popular type of consumer firework comprising of multiple small rockets in a box all fused to fire together in a big salvo. Not seen so much since the transition from BS to CE standards.
Abbreviated form of “Rothenberger” used by firework enthusiasts to describe their Rothenberger blow torches, used for lighting fireworks and considered the most durable and reliable on the market. Read more.
A technical term for a very loud bang (also known as a maroon).
A rapid sequence of fireworks or firework effects.
A firework designed to be mounted on posts or similar, for a ground effect, often words or symbols in pyrotechnic letters (see lancework), spinning devices or other unique effects. Now very limited in consumer fireworks. Read more.
Any effect that is launched from a tube by a lifting charge where it then explodes in the air. In professional fireworks a shell is usually a single bigger firework fired from a mortar tube. Read more.
Shop good fireworks
Consumer fireworks on sale to the public were once referred to in legislation as “shop good” fireworks. I’m not sure if this is still the case.
A term used to describe a virtually silent firework which has no bangs, whistles, crackles or other sounds.
If you book a professional display the fireworks company will usually conduct a site survey to ensure the venue is suitable for fireworks and has sufficient safety distances to spectators.
The term usually used to describe an aerial effect that spins in the air like a catherine wheel, giving off sparks as it does so.
Broad term used to describe the coloured balls ejected from many aerial firework effects when they explode.
An effect that blinks rapidly. Can be either a ground-based unit (such as a blinker) or an aerial effect that twinkles.
A bright, wriggling aerial effect, usually in silver.
The rear part of a moving firework effect, often made from embers, glittering sparks or crackles (as in “comet tail”).
This is a fast burning fuse made from black powder and sticky tape which is often used to link the lances on lancework and in other situations where the quick ignition of multiple items is needed.
A pyrotechnic device that, once activated, explodes with a loud bang and a flash. Used in theatrics, combat training or battle simulations.
A very loud bang (salute) with a bright flash (titanium).
Common in older fireworks and used in place of a fuse, this paper (normally blue) burns slowly but steadily.
Fireworks must be stored and transported in cartons designed and marked for that purpose, and these are called UN cartons as each one has a unique UN classification depending on its contents. These cartons are also marked with a hazard diamond indicating the type of explosives inside (usually 1.4G or 1.3G).
This is where effects are ejected in two columns resembling a V shape, usually from two candles set up in that orientation but occasionally in fan cakes.
Another ground-based effect that has become very hard to find in consumer orientation with the switch from British Standards to CE regulations. Strung between two posts, multiple gerbs burn to create a waterfall of sparks.
Essentially a giant wax candle that burns for a few hours and can either be used to line driveways and the likes for a ground-based ambient effect, or held in the hand and used as a procession torch.
Wire mesh cage
A common effect in many fireworks, a sound effect resembling a whistle.
A pretty aerial effect where glitter, sparks or embers expand out and then drift slowly down, resembling the shape of a willow tree.
A type of sparkler that is dipped into two or more different effects so that one effect burns down and another then burns back up.