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Arts & Culture

MI Pyrotechnician on Fireworks Safety and the 4th


Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, the evening sky over many parts of the U.S. will be filled with color. But who makes sure that show runs smoothly? Learn from one MI company about some of the safety precautions and the economical reasons why most fireworks are not made in the U.S.

When it comes to the weeks leading up to 4th of July weekend, to say that Aaron Enzer is busy would be an understatement. "This time of year it's basically any food that happens to present itself near me, close enough for me to grab as I'm walking past to go work on something else." says Enzer, owner and president of ACE Pyro, a professional fireworks display company. "Over this weekend we'll be shooting in Wisconsin, in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, so we have a fairly wide area that we cover."

And while they are a fireworks company, they don’t manufacture many in their Manchester, Michigan headquarters. Enzer tells me only about 1%. "

The regulatory environment in the U.S. just makes it cost prohibitive to make the majority of the fireworks. - Aaron Enzer

." explains Enzer. "There are a few specialty companies that are you know, still kinda survive. But you've gotta make something unique, you've gotta make something better than what you can simply by and import because we just can't complete economically because so much of the process of making fireworks is labor, and the labor rates here are just, you know, cost prohibitive as compared to the rates of bringing fireworks in from predominantly China."

And when it comes to those regulatory requirements regarding fireworks, it’s meant Enzer basing his business of ACE Pyro in Manchester, MI, located a bit south west of Ann Arbor, it works out pretty well. "Well, Manchester meets the basic requirements of being a fairly rural area. People don't want fireworks close to, you know, more populated areas, so it's very nice agricultural community in this area." But that doesn’t mean that the Michigan locals get free fireworks displays as Enzer tests out new shells. "The majority of the testing we do, we usually test items at one of our regular shoots or shows for our customers." says Enzer. :Obviously the customer doesn't mind us bringing some extra fireworks that we're donating to their show. They get the benefit of that and we also get the, you know, the benefit of being able to test our items, you know, at somewhere we're already setting up to shoot anyway. Occasionally we will test a couple of items here, but it's quite limited."

If somebody were to be injured, we would rather not shoot the show and err on the side of caution - Aaron Enzer

When it comes to launching fireworks displays we all hope for good weather and clear skies, but should the weather start to look ominous, who makes the decision to cancel? "Well, ultimately, the basic rule is that anybody that's a participant. Be it the sponsor, be it your authority having jurisdiction like your fire department or the shooter. Anybody can say 'Stop.' or 'We're not going to shoot.' Only the actual trained pyrotechnician is the person that can actually say 'Yes. We are going to go.' So it's kind of a safety measure in the fact that anybody has the veto power to say, you know, 'Look, we're just not going to shoot it tonight.' But they're also not allowed to pressure or try to overrule a pyrotechnician that doesn't want to shoot. You know, we would much rather disappoint a crowd because that in itself is not a life-changing event. If somebody were to be injured, we would rather not shoot the show and err on the side of caution then to shoot a show  that later on we figured out that we probably should not have fired it."

So wherever you go for your professional fireworks displays, know that folks like Aaron Enzer of ACE Pyro in Manchester, MI are also following procedures to keep you safe as well.

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