View Full Version : ARPA Australian Recreational Pyrotechnic Association

10-27-2012, 03:51 AM
Australian Recreational Pyrotechnic Association (or ARPA for short) is an organization that believes in the fun, legal, responsible and safe use of fireworks by passionate members of the community. We consider fireworks as art in the same way a painter uses canvas to reveal their artistic side- the sky is our canvas.

I have been thinking for a while that Victorian law (and the Australian laws in general) regarding fireworks are not only incredibly strict but also irrelevant in some areas as you class all types of fireworks the same despite the fact that a lot of firework devices are not large display type devices and contain only a small amount of pyrotechnic material, these smaller devices perform very differently to the larger display type fireworks.

What I am proposing is that some members of the community would be interested in establishing a fireworks club on a social level, that is to say an appropriate venue in which smaller class fireworks can be let off on set dates in a location away from residential areas, and which would have it's own strict rules for doing so. A separate license would be made available from workcover that allows this. I'm not talking about large display type fireworks here such as shells and large multishot cakes, I totally agree these such devices should only be used by professionally trained pyrotechnicians and in fact the recent injuries and deaths that have occurred in Victoria I have noted were caused by display shells, The smaller devices do not pose a risk of injury, the last 2 cases in which there was a fatality was due to professional fireworks being used by untrained operators. I believe your categorizing system in place is completely wrong because your including of all pyrotechnics devices into the one permit scope makes no sense. We are allowed rocket clubs & firearm clubs so why not a fireworks club that is controlled in the same manner as the afore mentioned clubs are.

My proposal is not about legalizing fireworks so anyone can get hold of them and let them off in a residential area. This proposal relates directly to an organized club that is licensed to let off fireworks at an approved venue that meets strict requirements. Members don't posses the fireworks in such that they have them stored at their house and can let them off at there own choosing, my proposal stipulates that a chosen remote venue which has a proposed locked magazine with various security features stores members fireworks there, which are acquired from a licensed supplier which adheres to appropriate transport regulations. Members of the club would only be able to access the fireworks on the approved night, and MUST be let off that night for example once every 2 months there is a club meet.

This is for enthusiasts, people that may have a current passion for fireworks and don't want to become professional and outlay the large costs and do not want to become a pyrotechnician for a job, also people who might remember the old days such as Guy Fawkes & Empire nights may want to relive those days. This is NOT for people who just want to blow things up, run a muck or cause trouble, membership would be conditional on certain requirements, mature people only would be allowed to join the club. Anyone doing anything stupid, disobeying rules would have there license/membership cancelled on the spot.

The proposed venue would not have surrounding residences for x amount of kilometers and would be far out of town, cleared of any fire risks such as long grass trees etc.

Two licensed pyrotechnicians I have spoken to think its a good idea and also believed it would be a good opportunity for them to test new products that they may wish to use in future shows. Professionally full licensed pyrotechnicians would also be encouraged to join and let of their larger display type devices in accordance to current workcover regulations.

The proposal includes the following well thought out conditions which would allow for optimal safety requirements:
- Members must be at least 18 years of age (possibly even 21).

- Under no circumstances will fireworks be let off on a total fire ban.

- The proposed venue would be completely clear of flammable vegetation or material, with a surrounding area completely cleared to a certain distance.

- Fully insured.

- Under no circumstances shall any fireworks be taken from the premises. All fireworks would be sold from a licensed supplier and delivered to the venue and locked in an approved magazine.

- Appropriate fire prevention devices would be available on site such as fire houses hoses & extinguishers.

- A licensed pyrotechnician could provide training at a few of the events for new members, to save on money a minimum amount of people would be required to be trained. They would then receive a certain Category license enabling them to become an active member of the club and use that category type fireworks at the approved venue. Professional pyrotechnicians are encouraged (and no doubt would enjoy attending) to attend the meets. The training would mainly focus on safety requirements and correct setting up, this would limit the time and cost of the training.

- Other various clubs would be encouraged to use the facility/location such as the firearms and rocket clubs.

- Strict time limits would also apply, fire works would only be let off on a Friday and Saturday night, with the cut off at 10pm.

- Absolutely no alcohol permitted on club premises.

- Appropriate safety devices would be available on site with medical kit and at least 2 members trained with medical certificate.

- All fireworks are to be shot by electronic means, therefore no member or viewing public can be injured by he fireworks as they are shot from a distance remotely.

- Background checks are performed by workcover to ensure any applying member is fit to hold a license.

- An area in which the fireworks are setup and fired can only be accessed by the licensed members, any attending audiences which are not members are allowed only into the designated viewing area which is set back a safe distance from the display.

- Local authorities and nearby residences notified within 1 month of each planned event.

- Anyone doing anything stupid, disobeying rules would have there license/membership cancelled on the spot.

- These types of clubs exist all over the USA & the UK and are very successful, safe & enjoyable clubs.

Before anything at all would proceed we need a good idea on numbers showing some interest would be needed, I already know of quite a few people who are interested in such a proposal. Yes this mainly a Victorian thing, but think of it as a stepping stone in the right direction for other states. Interstate members would be more than welcome and considering how cheap flights are interstate at the moment there wouldn't be a reason why you couldn't attend a few meets a year.

Come and support the cause: http://ausrpa.blogspot.com.au/

10-28-2012, 11:05 PM
I believe you articulated your proposal for fireworks in Australia very well. Fireworks enthusiasts from Australia subscribe to and enjoy my fireworks videos. I communicate with a few of these enthusiasts so I understand a little about the firework situation in your country. What you are asking for seems reasonable. Are you able to educate us more about the fireworks laws in Australia? From what you are saying, the current laws do not differentiate between 1.4 Consumer Fireworks and 1.3 Professional Fireworks. Perhaps to simplify things are you able to post links to current laws in Australia pertaining to users of fireworks?
If what my contacts in Australia tell me is true, the authorities in Australia try to find users of fireworks from youtube videos and other social media. If anyone in Australia wants to comment on this issue, on the pyrotalk forums, you can do so with anonymity. As administrator of the pyrotalk forums, I am privy to user contact information. I will only reveal that a user is from Australia on the forums and nothing else. I would like to hear more from users of fireworks in Australia. It may be time for a change in the fireworks laws in Australia. For someone to help you we need educated on the current laws and situation.

11-09-2012, 06:22 AM
Hi Dave,

Basically as it currently stands in Australia only one State (or Territory as we call it) called the Northern Territory allows the legal sale and use of shop goods/consumer fireworks which happens for an occasion called "Territory Day". It was only a few years ago you could still legally buy and discharge consumer fireworks in Adelaide, A.C.T. (Australian Capital Territory) & Tasmania, but of course because the Governments seem to continuously listen to a complaining minority, and focus their attention on the small amount of irresponsible ones who ruin it for the vast majority of responsible ones and the responsible ones have to be punished.

In Victoria fireworks have been completely banned since the 1980's, and when I say completely, I mean everything, the only things that we can use are sparklers, party poppers and caps for cap guns, also available legally are hobby rocket motors such as Estes but are limited to no more than 62.5 grams. Even items such as coloured sparkers are not permitted. The biggest problem in Victoria and even Australia as a whole the lawmakers never think things through, rather than analyzing and understanding the different types of fireworks and realizing that yes some fireworks are dangerous and should be regulated while others are harmless and should be allowed to be used by the general public.

You could however fire a professional fireworks display by completing a one off permit, you needed to be 21 years of age or older, which had all your details, what types of fireworks were being used, a diagram of the site and distances and a self assessment section you filled out such as the local fire authority will be notified as well as local council etc. But recently its completely changed you must be fully licensed, you need to complete training, this is not a massive issue, the problem is it costs around $10,000, and this is not the trainer/operators fault, I can completely understand it would be expensive to provide the training. The problem is not everyone wants to go professional or wants to only shoot displays at public events which really is the only reason you would get the license to begin with. The problem is that they have placed this broad ban on every firework type, ones that don't even contain that much explosive power. And again I'm not talking about large display type items, I'm referring to consumer fireworks. Why allow the use of model rockets but not other pyrotechnic devices.

The amusing thing is its 20 times easier to get a gun license than it is to use fireworks, even harmless ones.

I have spoken to a farmer who I know who owns a large amount of land who is very keen on the idea and would have no problem with it and would even be actively involved, a CFA (fire fighter) member is also keen on the idea if it was to be made legal.

I appreciate your offer of anonymity to us Australian users, personally I am fine as I'm not involved with fireworks in an illegal way, but I do understand that some Australians might be a bit worried about the law.

In regards to law changes on fireworks the biggest problem is a law is hardly ever repealed in this country and even if it was mentioned all the do gooders will come out and ruin any chance of us being able to buy consumer fireworks like you can, that's why my suggestion would be the only way possible of legal access to consumer fireworks, it would be similar to buying and using a firearm; a firearm is purchased from a licensed shop it can only be used in a controlled environment, you can't just start shooting it off anywhere you wish, this would be no different to my proposal.