Artists Resource for Fire

Fire Information

Lightweight Burn Platform

I am attempting to come up with an idea for a burn platform that will allow a small to medium-sized artwork to be burned without harming the ground below it. At events like Burning Man, you cannot have a burn scar on the Playa. The problem is that so many solutions have turned out to be impractical. I wanted to come up with a template for a burn platform which can be easily assembled, the materials could be purchased from a home improvement store like Home Depot and the platform could be recycled and made from repurposed building materials.

I have come up with this platform as a first attempt at a design that might work. It uses metal studs used in commercial construction, corrugated metal for heat resistance and a sheet of plywood because corrugated sheet metal is not designed to have someone walk on it and it has lots of sharp edges. A deck of plywood creates a smooth surface, it can be walked on, it adds strength and it allows people to build an object on the platform.

The construction works like this:

This burn platform has a base made of steel studs used in commercial office space construction. In this version of the burn platform, the studs are placed 8" apart to help support weight. In addition, these studs should work like a giant heat sink and help radiate the heat out away from the hottest parts of the burn to reduce burn scars.

Photo [the plywood is just being used as a table, it is not connected at this stage]:
steel studs

On top of the studs is a layer of corrugated steel roof panels which are screwed directly to the studs. This will act as a heat shield to block radiant heat.

corrugated steel sheet metal

On top of the corrugated steel is a layer of plywood. By itself, corrugated steel is not strong enough to support support weight without bending. It also has very sharp edges which can produce nasty cuts. This makes it impractical to walk on. With a skin of plywood over the top of the corrugated steel, it creates a platform that can support weight, people can walk on it and it can be used as a base for constructing art. In addition, the plywood also acts as an insulating area. Yes, if the fire is hot enough, it will burn. But it offers another level of fire resistance and helps to strengthen the entire platform.

plywood deck

All of the pieces can be purchased at a Home Depot or similar home improvement store. the amount of space it takes up for transport is very low. It can be assembled with a electric drill, self-tapping drywall screws and tin snips. Everything except the plywood can be recycled. Everything including the plywood can be repurposed from previously used construction materials. In fact, the plywood came from the Alameda County dump.

The platform seems to be able to support a great amount of weight and it stronger than it looks.

I will post more information on minimum thickness of plywood once I figure out the heat rating for each size.

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The information on this Web site is for informational pourposes only. Nothing should be attempted without first consulting your local Fire Marshal or the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in your area. Some of the activities described may be illegal in your area and in no way should you attempt any activity without the expressed consent of the AHJ.