with fire is dangerous. This guide is to help you enjoy
it as safely as possible.
FREE Fire Safety Download:
Our Fire and Fuel Safety Guide, supplied with every Fyregear product, can be downloaded as a PDF file at
the bottom of this page. It includes information on safety
precautions, suitable clothing, various fire fuels, instructions on dipping, lighting and
extinguishing your fire wicks and some first aid for burns.
YOU READY FOR FIRE?
This question has no
easy answer. What matters most is your confidence and ability to perform the
moves you know. You should have an experienced fire performer to help
you the first time you use fire. If this isn’t possible, have a friend to help
you and act as your safety person. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to start playing
with fire as soon as possible. Practice your moves, get used to your equipment
and only spin when you feel ready and skilled enough to control the equipment
safely. The first time you spin with fire don’t try any new moves you’re not
familiar & confident with and spin slowly.
Before you start
spinning with fire, check that you have the following:
specific first aid kit (you can speak to your
chemist/pharmacist/drug store about this).
- Damp cotton
- for smothering out burning equipment, people or objects.
extinguisher which is full, within its expiry date and has the pin
intact. (The most appropriate extinguisher is dry powder.)
in good condition.
- Fire safety
- the role of the fire safety person is to act as an extra set of eyes for the
spinner and to quickly respond to any danger posed to the spinner, their
environment or others. The fire safety should have the damp towel, fire blanket
and extinguisher on hand at all times and know how to use them.
for both you and your safety person (refer to the “Clothing” section of this guide).
of first aid specific to treating burns (refer to the “First Aid”
section of this guide).
check your fire equipment each time you intend to use it. Make sure that the
split rings, swivels, chains, wick and handles are all in good condition. All
of these will get wear and tear over time and will need to be periodically
with secure lid and no leaks (the original fuel container from the supplier is
- Fuel dump – this
should be a safe area away from walkways, clear of debris, flammable materials
and away from heat, flames and other hazards.
- Fuel (refer to
the “Fuel” section of this guide).
As a bare minimum you should have a
damp cotton towel, appropriate clothing, knowledge of first aid for
burns, fire equipment in good condition, appropriate fuel in a secure fuel
dump and a fire safety person.
- Be aware of any local fire bans, fire safety regulations and permits (if required).
- Do not use fire on a flammable surface e.g.
- Keep others out of the burn zone; mark this
area, have barriers and have someone in charge of keeping onlookers safe.
- Secure the fuel dump and do not leave any
fuel containers open.
The safest, most readily
available fuels for fire props are Isoparaffin (RecosolG) and Kerosene as they
are the least explosive. However, no fuel is “safe” and all fuels are toxic.
- Kerosene (“Kero”), also
known as Paraffin, if it’s 100% pure, is not
particularly toxic. Very few brands of kerosene are 100% pure, with no
additives. Pure Kerosene/Paraffin is sold as aviation kerosene and is not
available to the general public. Other brands and types of kerosene (aviation
fuel, coal oil, heating oil, lamp oil and fuel oil) contain a variety of extremely toxic ingredients, mainly
benzene and shellite (naphtha). These additives are absorbed through the skin and mucous membrane, and accumulate in
the liver and kidneys. If kerosene is splashed into the eyes, the eyelids
should be held open and the eye flushed for fifteen minutes, and if swallowed,
do not induce vomiting. In either case, seek medical attention immediately. All
kerosene should be treated as if it is highly toxic. It burns very hot, produces
a lot of smoke/soot and has a very strong smell. Available at supermarkets & hardware
- Lamp Oil
is available as scented and unscented, is kerosene without the bad
smell. It produces less smoke and looks cleaner, however, contrary to popular belief;
the additives that make it more aesthetically pleasing also make it more poisonous. Available at supermarkets & hardware stores.
- RecosolG (the fire fuel we supply) is
also known as Isoparaffin and Hydrotreated Heavy Naphtha, is bright, clean,
odorless, produces minimal smoke, has a low temperature flame and is a
non-explosive fuel. It is used and recommended by professional fire performers. Available from Fyregear and the Perth Fire Group, pick up only
as it cannot be posted. (In the eastern states of
Australia it is supplied under the brand name “ShellSolD60”)
- Coleman Fuel and Lighter Fluid such as Zippo, consists of shellite (naphtha) with various
additives. Shellite is much more volatile than kerosene – this means that it’s more likely to explode or get out of
control. You can’t dip extinguished but still smoldering fire equipment
into shellite because it will instantly set the contents of your fuel container
on fire. You must completely extinguish all smoldering and wait at least 30
seconds before re-fueling. This fuel does not need a wick to burn, whereas, kerosene
does. Naphtha is as toxic as kerosene.
(Petrol), Paint Thiner & Airplane Fuel
other highly volatile fuels are extremely explosive and extremely toxic. It’s strongly advised
that you DO NOT use these fuels. When
it’s hot and humid, gasoline fumes will not readily disperse and may be ignited
as much as half an hour after the fuel has been sealed and stored. The fumes from Coleman fuel and lighter fluid
will explode almost as readily, but not with the same force. In comparison, Kerosene
and lamp oil are fairly hard to blow up.
- Grain Alcohol
is not immediately poisonous and beverages with an alcohol content of 60% (120
proof) or higher are volatile enough to be used with fire equipment. However,
they produce a poor flame. Grain alcohol which is pure (100%, 200 proof) has a similar volatility to gasoline making
blowbacks inevitable for fire-breathers. The main problem with liquor is that
what you ingest from doing a few blasts of fire breathing will get you quite
drunk and this is not a safe condition to be in if you are using fire.
- Methylated Spirits
(“Metho”) are another highly volatile
fuel like paint thinner; however, in the fire spinning world, it is used in
combination with chemical compounds to create “coloured” flames. Methylated
Spirits produce a weaker flame than kerosene and combining it with chemical
compounds results in a very toxic
fuel that rapidly deteriorates the condition of your wicks.
Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) contains
information for handling or working with a particular fuel/substance. MSDS's
include information like the flash point, toxicity, health issues, handling
procedures and what to do in case of an accident. Every company that
manufactures or distributes hazardous chemicals must have/provide an MSDS. The
purchaser has the right to know everything about the material that they are
purchasing and hence, the seller must assist you in obtaining a copy of the
MSDS. We recommend that you obtain the MSDS for any fuel you are considering
using and familiarize yourself with the information before proceeding. Fyregear can provide you with the MSDS for
most fuels, just ask!
- Unless labeled as flame resistant or flame
retardant, all fabrics should be treated as highly flammable. Natural materials, in tight weaves (the
thicker the better) give better protection and tighter clothing is less likely
to catch fire. As a guide, the best readily available clothing
materials to wear are; heavy cotton drill (like tradie’s work pants & shirts),
denim (without frays), wool and leather. Other materials such as silk are
slow to ignite but once burning burn easily. Synthetic fabrics such as
polyester and nylon are also slow to ignite but will eventually burn with a
flame and produce melting residue. The melting residue is a very high
temperature and can cause deep and severe burns as it tends to stick to skin.
you are creating a costume, it is wise to test how flammable the materials are.
Test the fabric by running fire (consisting of the same fuel and wicking you
perform with) over and around a fabric sample. If it doesn’t burn immediately,
hold the flame to it and see how long it takes to burn or melt. This will give
you a good indication of the flammability of your costume.
- Spinning in wet clothes will prevent them
catching fire BUT wet clothing can lead
to severe steam burns when the heat of the fire equipment is applied to the
water in the fabric (most likely if you get entangled in your equipment).
- A natural
fibre beanie or cap is recommended for your head, as hair burns
instantly on contact with a flame. It may also help to wet your hair. Gels,
hair spray and other hair products are not recommended as these act as fuel
within your hair and make it easier to set on fire.
- LIGHTING - EXTINGUISHING:
submerge the wick in a container of fuel. As the liquid fuel displaces the air
in the wick it produces air bubbles. The wick is fully soaked when there are no
more air bubbles coming out. Shake off any excess fuel using big downward
sweeps (with a staff) or spin off excess fuel (if using poi). Other equipment should be shaken or spun as best as
possible to remove excess fuel. If fuel has run down the shaft or handle of
your staff or onto the handles of poi, be sure to wipe or wash it off before
lighting. More information on using a fire staff is in the “fire staff info”
light your fire equipment from underneath the wick (because fire burns upwards)
at a safe distance away from the fuel container. Ensure the wick is fully lit before
starting to spin as spinning straight after lighting may cause your wicks to
It is best
to extinguish equipment before all the fuel has burned out of the wick so as to
prevent just the fuel residue on the wick burning. Extinguishing equipment extends
the life of the wick and means you need to replace it less often. To extinguish
the equipment, blow out the flame from the bottom (to the top) of the wick or
use a damp towel to smother it. Wicks that are left to burn out and smolder
will not last as long as equipment which is extinguished.
AID FOR BURNS:
All fire spinners get
burned. Described below are the three main classes of heat burn and the
appropriate first aid for each class.
FIRST DEGREE BURNS
- Identification - The skin
is intact, but red and the burned area is painful.
Run the burned area under cold water for 20 minutes. Do not use ice as it
reduces the blood flow to the area. After the skin has been cooled, do not
apply lotions or salves. Leave the skin uncovered and dry. Most first degree
burns heal after 1-2 days.
- Identification - The skin
may be intact or it may appear to be partially peeling. It may also appear
moist or have a mottled appearance. Any burn with blisters is second degree. The
burned area is very painful.
- Treatment - If the skin is
intact (not peeling), run the burn under cold water for 20 minutes. Then you
may apply an antibiotic ointment or cream. Don’t try to burst the blisters. The
burn will usually heal with minimal to no scarring within 7-14 days. Once the
blisters burst on their own, trim off the dead skin with fine scissors. This
helps to prevent infection. If the skin is broken, do not immerse in water as
this can lead to infection. Cover the burn in a clean, dry dressing and go to
the nearest emergency room.
- Identification - The skin
is burned through its full thickness. The tissue underneath the skin may show
through. The edges of the burn are frequently charred. The center of the burned
area may not be painful because the pain receptors in the skin have been
destroyed along with the skin.
Cover the area in a clean, dry dressing. If there is clothing stuck to the
burn, do not try to remove it. Third degree burns are notorious for getting
infected and prompt medical treatment is required. Failure to receive prompt
medical attention can result in gangrene, loss of a limb, or infection of the
By using this fire
equipment, you acknowledge that you have read and accepted these disclaimers. The information
supplied here is intended only as an introduction and guide to fire spinning.
While every care has been taken to supply accurate information, errors and
omissions may occur. Fyregear does not accept any liability for loss or damage,
which may directly or indirectly result from any advice, opinion, information,
representation or omission, whether negligent or otherwise, contained within
these pages and/or on our website.