Artists Resource for Fire

Minimum Safe Distances

This guide to Minimum Safe Distances applies to any type of show using fire or pyrotechnics. You can always exceed the minimum safe distance (go farther out), but never decrease the distance in any situation. Remember, no flames, sparks or pyrotechnics will be permitted to cross, enter, go over, under, on, or around the audience.

Min Distance



4 feet

Finger fire, hand held finger props.

5 feet

No fire shall come closer than this distance to speakers, lights, or overhead structures.

15 feet

Minimum distance for indoor fire effects (NFPA 160)

Chains, staves, torches or similar props.
(Fire must come no closer than 5 feet to lights or overhead structures.)

20 feet

Fire puppets, flaming jump ropes, sparklers, staffs.

25 feet

All scenery and decorations are non-flammable or have been treated with a flame retardant.

50 feet

Fountains, firecrackers (1.4g Class C "safe and sane") or as approved by Fire Marshall.

75 feet

No smoking allowed or open flames.

Minimum distance for Class B (1.3g) pyrotechnics.

Minimum distance for Class B (1.3g) pyrotechnic set pieces
(Add 70' for every 1" in diameter for the shell size, up to a 12" shell. Then add 100' as a rule and seek specific permission from the local fire safety official.)

80 feet

Flame projectors

100 feet

Class B (1.3g) cakes.

125 feet

Class B (1.3g) fire bright work

150 feet

Unwanted fire (small event)
(Min. distance for a large unwanted fire is 500 feet.)

190 feet

Propane tank fire.
(If the fire is out of control, the minimum distance is 600 feet.)

200 feet

Minimum radius for Class B (1.3g) effects such as roman candles. These have a fallout distance of 100'.

215 feet

Minimum radius for 3" Class B (1.3g) shells.

265 feet

Minimum radius for 4" Class B (1.3g) shells.

370 feet

Minimum radius for 5" Class B (1.3g) shells.

500 feet

Large unwanted fire

600 feet

Propane tanks burning out of control.

Minimum radius for 6" Class B (1.3g) shells.

850 feet

Pipe bomb

1000 feet

Minimum radius for 12" Class B (1.3g) shells.

Package bomb (1-25 lbs.)

1500 feet

Minimum distance for car bomb. Increase distance for larger vehicles.

2000 feet

Propane tank leaking out of control.

2500 feet

BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Evaporated Vapor Explosion)

Stage any arriving units 2500 feet upwind. Position vehicles with head-out away from danger.

There are other important considerations. If you are on stilts, you need to increase your distances for every foot you are off the ground. If you have 18" stilts and have fire fingers, you should be an additional 2' back from the audience. The idea is that if you slip or fall, there is no chance you will fall into the audience.

Some people find an issue with distances because they feel it breaks the intimacy with the audience. Intimacy is established in many ways, including eye contact. One could complain about the audience being 20' away or one could revel in the fact that there is good clear sight lines for an even larger group of people.

Fire blowing is allowed on a street with traffic so long as there is a traffic spotter and a fire watch.

Pyrotechnic Zones

Red Zone:
Prohibited access.

Distance - 7x quantity3
(ex. 1lb charge, perimeter=18')

With concussion mortars, the minimum distance is 25 feet.

Shatter Zone
Window breakage occurs from shock of ignition. This does not take into account the effects of shrapnel.

Distance - 65x quantity3
(ex. 1lb charge, perimeter=165')

Green Zone:
General protection Safe zone.

Distance - 120x quantity3
(ex. 1lb charge, perimeter=310')

Shatter Windshields
Distance - 10x quantity3

Crack concrete or brick walls
Distance - 19x quantity3

Plaster walls crack
Distance - 34x quantity3

No fireworks should be within 75' of any building, tent, trailer or vehicle.

Terrorist Bomb Threat Stand-Off

Ever wonder why Government agencies such as the Police restrict such a large area when they suspect a bomb? The potential for an explosive device could surprise you. Here is a list of distances for the worst case scenario for a device packed with explosives.


(TNT Equivalent)



Pipe Bomb 5 LBS    
2.3 KG    
70 FT    
21 M    
850 FT    
259 M    

Briefcase or
Suitcase Bomb
50 LBS    
23 KG    
150 FT    
46 M    
1,850 FT    
564 M    

Compact Sedan 500 LBS    
227 KG    
320 FT    
98 M    
1,500 FT    
457 M    

Sedan 1000 LBS    
454 KG    
400 FT    
122 M    
1750 FT    
534 M    

Passenger Van or
Cargo Van
4,000 LBS    
1814 KG    
640 FT    
195 M    
2,750 FT    
838 M    

Small Moving Van or
Delivery Truck
10,000 LBS    
4,536 KG    
860 FT    
263 M    
3,750 FT    
1,143 M    

Moving Van or
Water Truck
30,000 LBS    
13,608 KG    
1,240 FT    
375 M    
6,500 FT    
1,982 M    

Semi Trailer 60,000 LBS    
27,216 KG    
1,570 FT    
475 M    
7,000 FT    
2,134 M    

1 — Based on the maximum volume or weight of explosive (TNT equivalent) that could reasonably fit in a suitcase or vehicle.
2 — Governed by the ability of an unstrengthened building to withstand severe damage or collapse.
3 — Governed by the of fragment throw distances or glass breakage/falling glass hazard distance. Note that pipe and briefcase bombs assume cased charges which throw fragments farther than vehicle bombs.
Source: BATF

Written by Wally Glenn
Edited by Neil Carlberg, Maque Da Vis' and Daniel Walsh.

ARF | About Us | Contact Us | ©2005 by Wally Glenn. All Rights Reserved. Hosting provided by GetWally.

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.