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Southport Fireworks 2014

Southport Fireworks 2014

WHAT: 2014 British Musical Fireworks Championships
WHERE: Southport
VENUE: Victoria Park
WHEN: Friday 3rd October, Saturday 4th October and Sunday 5th October 2014
OPENING TIMES: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Competition Rules and Scoring at Southport Fireworks 2014

It is difficult to find things to keep readers up to date with everything happening in the world of pyro and as they are a secretive little bunch, gossip is hard to come by. However, there are some questions that were posed by some of the spectators at the Southport British Musical Championships 2013 and with the help of the Winner of the title of 2013 Champion Simon Harding from the fabulous Sirotechnics, I hope to answer one or two.

The main questions were: who are the judges and what is their background? What are the rules of the competition? What are they scored on? The safety distances? And, how the competitors felt about the new venue and what were its challenges?

The judges were Bill Davis, Tony Cardell MBE, Wilf Scott MVO, Sue Dare from Champion News Group and new to 2013 line up was Ray Roukin the Director of the Southport Flower Show.

Between the judging panel elite there are literally over a hundred years of experience and the main three ‘amigos’ are Bill, Tony and Wilf who have quite the resume having worked for the likes of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple and of course our own Queen Elizabeth to name a tiny handful of clients. They have each owned their own firework display companies and competed all over the World so they really are the composite experts and, they have all three been judges of this competition for the last 15 years.

Now The Rules And Regulations For The Firework Competition Are As Follows:

1. A competition clerk, fully experienced in Health and Safety is employed for the site to oversee all competitors whilst they are setting up. They ensure that equipment is being used as it should and safely including cranes, towers etc. Teams can be awarded up to 10 points by the judges for ‘Good Site Safety Management’. All teams must have full PPE, relevant vehicle plates, ADR licensing, fireworks to be kept in secure UN boxes and each team must have a minimum of £5 million in Public Liability Insurance.

2. Sound – The venue supplies a high quality PA audio system and competitors music can be linked to their command PC via the sound system if required. Officials must judge the music via the same audio source as the audience.

3. Music – All music must be submitted to the competition regulators no later than 1st June of the competition year and must appeal to a ‘family’ audience. The teams must detail the name of each track, composer/artiste and duration. They can use between 4 and 10 pieces of music and the total amount of time of the display can be between 16 and 18 minutes but the teams will be penalised if they are outside of these timeframes.

4. Fireworks – They must be HSE classified. Teams can have up to 350kg of NEC. The Competition Clerk will have a list of ‘typical’ NEC to assist in maintaining a ‘standard’. Any set pieces (wheels and lancework) are allowed but if they are unusually large this must again be discussed with the Competition Clerk.

5. The NO-NO’S: No aquatic shells, no spherical shells exceeding 5 inches, no pattern shells exceeding 6 inches and no maroon shells above 3 inches. No Girandola’s or Crown Wheels.

The Judges Score Sheet Takes Into Account The Following:

Artistic Merit:
Synchronisation to Music 15
Mood and flow (continuity) 15

Variety of Music and Effects:
Firework Symmetry – colour, pattern and effects 15
Choice and use of music 15

Technical Merit:
Technical synchronisation 10
Site Safety management 10
Overall display timing 5

Overall Performance:
Design, choreography and entertainment value 15
(taking weather conditions into account)


The safety distances are a little complex as each different sized shell will have a different fall out area. To simplify, Simon has offered this information:

Set pieces – around 30m
Single shots and slices – around 50m
Small cakes – around 70m
Big cakes – around 100m
And 3,4,5 and 6 inch shells – around 200m

When all this has been taken into consideration and all the boxes ticked, the competition can really get under way :)

Southport has been at the forefront of display fireworks for a number of years as many of you are aware but due to some major refurbishment, the actually firing site changed from Marine Drive overlooking the lake, close to the seafront to the new venue of Victoria Park. Feelings about the new site are mixed as the reflection over the water did add that extra dimension to the effects but as Simon said, it’s the challenge of this that should make the teams more creative and mix them with traditional effects like the waterfall used on their winning display in 2013.

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