Firing Multiple Fireworks At Once
How to safely fire more than once firework at a time.
It’s quite common to want to fire several items at the same time. Examples include:
- A salvo of rockets to fill the sky.
- Several cakes and barrages at the end of your display (the “finale”). Multiple barrages can look stunning.
- Fanned effects such as roman candles.
In this article I’ll run through the three main ways to do this: By hand, using a firing system, and linking items with fuse.
Multiple firing by hand on your own
This is the easiest and cheapest method and requires no extra equipment. The two key parts to making this safe are using a good quality flame to light the fuses and setting the fireworks up in your favour.
Looking at the method of lighting first of all. You will need to ensure that your fuses ignite pretty much as soon as the flame touches them, in order to give you time to light the next fuse in the sequence and then get away. Remember that once the first fuse is alight the clock has started ticking and ideally you should aim to complete all your fuses within a few seconds.
My recommendation here is either portfires – disposable one-use sticks that burn with a very intense flame – or a plumber’s blow torch. I explore both of those in more detail in the Lighting Fireworks By Hand article.
Next, ensure the fireworks are set up to make multiple lighting easier. Here are some examples:
Physically locate the fuses next to each other. Here you would set up your items next to each other (taped to the same stake or taped together then staked) so you can twist or tape the two primary fuses together, making them easier to light with one flame.
Physically locate the fireworks together. Where it is not possible to directly connect the fuses, situate the fireworks as close as possible and familiarise yourself with the location of the fuses. Light one fuse then immediately light the next and so on. Aim to light all of your fuses within a few seconds, never place any part of your body over the fireworks and move away quickly.
Be careful not to over-extend yourself and try to light too many fireworks in one location. If you want to light more than two or three it is better to have these in two groups. Light the ones in the first group then move away to the second group which is a safe distance away and light the others.
Situate the fireworks in a line at safe distances from each other. If you’re not comfortable with lighting multiple items in one spot and if it’s not too important they all start together, set them up in a line with a reasonable distance (say a few metres and assuming you are wearing PPE), between each one. Ensuring the fuses are exposed and ready, move quickly along the line lighting each one in turn. By the time the first firework starts you should be several fireworks away and at a safe distance.
Multiple firing by hand with several firers
If you’re hand firing a display and want to set off fireworks in different locations at the same time, then you’ll need more than one firer. Examples include firing pairs of fireworks situated on each side of the firing area, or candle sequences where the fans point in and cross over (rather than spread out from a point).
You’ll need to work out in advance how you’re going to synchronise yourselves. A number of my Fireworks Forum members have taken part in various amateur competitions and fired in multiples like this. Techniques they have used include one team member shouting out a running order to other firers, or both firers having their own list and stopwatch to fire at designated times. Whatever works best for you.
Multiple firing with a firing system
Here, you would connect each firework to an igniter and use a remote firing system.
The easiest way to fire multiple items is to wire each firework into the same cue on the firing system. Usually you would wire in parallel (and definitely if using Talon clips); however serial wiring can be useful if you have a line of fireworks a physical distance apart and don’t want to run each ignitor back to your firing system. All of this and more is explained in detail in the separate Lighting Fireworks Remotely guide.
With multiple items in one cue it is vital that you check beforehand that your firing system can fire that number of igniters and on those lengths of wire, so do tests using ignitors either not connected to a firework, or just attached to some loose visco fuse. Most systems can easily do two or three ignitors and in series or parallel but for greater numbers run tests on your system to make sure.
You can also, if you wish, add each firework to different cues. So if you had, say, four fireworks you would use four cues. When you come to fire, you either press the four buttons in quick succession, or use the multiple/simultaneous fire option on your system, if it has one. This method can be useful if your fireworks are situated at long distances or you are using different types of igniter, both situations that can cause problems if using one single cue.
Multiple firing using fuse to link fireworks
You can in some cases make life easier by linking fireworks with fuse, though bear in mind that you will still need to either hand light the connected fireworks, or connect an igniter and fire them remotely.
The idea here then is to use fuse of an approriate type (see the Using Fuse & Linking Fireworks guide for more help) to connect the fuses of the fireworks you want to light. Then, add on a bit of additional fuse which is what you light, or attach an igniter if firing remotely. Note: Never directly light fast fuse such as black match by hand. Add on some visco fuse or fire it remotely.
Fuse is only really suitable for linking fireworks that are close together. You should not run long lengths of fuse across your display area!