Cold Spark, Not So Cold
In short, there’s no such thing as a cold spark. Over the last several years there has been an influx of devices hitting the market known as cold spark machines to include the Sparktacular and many imitations and clones that are being shipped from China. What is interesting is that in the past these machines were able to be used without permits and indoors, that’s about to change.
Most states have adopted NFPA1123 for their fireworks display guidelines. what happens often times is that regulations do not keep up with innovation. In this case because the machines appeared to be safe, many operators were using them without a close proximity license and without obtaining permits or having fire standby for events in which these “cold spark” devices were being used.
An example of cold spark machines
There has been quite a bit of talk in the fireworks community and wishing the NFPA to address this new technology. While there are many videos online showing people putting their hands directly in the spark or putting a piece of paper in the line of fire, one thing is certain. These machines can be dangerous in certain situations, especially when used around other flammable materials. Its a pretty sure bet that the next version of NFPA1123 will more than likely include guidelines for the use of these machines. Until that happens here are a few suggestions to keep operators, guest and the public safe. 1. Ensure that you have a minimum of 25 feet of clear area from flammable materials.
2. Ensure you have fire suppression available should something catch on fire.
3. Cable management is critical, many of these devices are DMX controlled so it's not uncommon to see long cables connecting the devices
4. Get permits (in this case proximity permits are the appropriate permits for the event)
5. Ensure you have a master kill switch to be able to turn off or cut power to all machines should the need arise.
I'm sure there are other common sense things to keep in mind but these recommendations will help keep guest safe.
Until NFPA1123 or NFPA1126 cover these devices, we will not be utilizing them.