Aerial – A firework product that produces stars or spheres in various color forms in the air.
AHJ – (Authority Having Jurisdiction) The people assigned to maintain public safety during a fireworks display. Local law enforcement and fire departments are involved.
Ash Can – Also called a silver salute. Can be fired from the ground or launched from a mortar into the air.
Assortment – A variety of firework products purchased by consumers. The collection can be mixed with firecrackers, sparklers, fountains and rockets.
ATFE (ATF) – (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) Federal Bureau in charge of regulations concerning the sale, manufacturing, import, storage and use of fireworks or explosives used professionally.
Barrage – A group of firework products fired simultaneously.
Battery – Missile or Roman candle firework products assembled as a bundle.
Black Match – A type of fuse made by saturating cotton string in black powder that burns quickly manufactured in fireworks.
Black Powder – A mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulfur used for aerial fireworks and flaming balls. The ingredients burn slow and have no sensitivity to shock. Black powder is known as gunpowder.
Bombette – An exploding star ejected from a Roman candle or fountain firework display. The product has a maximum charge of 130 milligrams in legal consumer fireworks.
Bottle Rocket – A small rocket launch into the air that has a whistling effect and loud bang. Same size as a standard firecracker with a thin stick attached to it as support.
Bouquet Pattern – A floral shaped aerial pattern of stars in a spherical shape. (Read the definition for peony).
Brocade – A spider like effect similar to fine lace using glitter to produce long brocade tails. The effect is brighter than the willow or tiger tail effect.
Cake – Known as repeaters or multi-shot aerials. Several tubes are lit in sequence from a single fuse. Beautiful aerial effects, including spinners, flower bouquets and comets can be seen from cakes. They are popular among consumers.
Candle – Another name known for the Roman candle firework, (definition below).
Cherry Bomb – A round firecracker that is available in different colors. Original designed cherry bombs contained over a gram of flash powder. They were too powerful according to the federal government and declared illegal in 1966. The new firecracker contains 50 milligrams of flash powder.
Chlorates – A chemical oxidizer that includes potassium chlorate and barium chlorate. The ingredients are sensitive to shock when they come in contact with sulfur. They are only allowed in some professional firework displays.
Chrysanthemum – A flower pattern resulting from a mortar or cake firework.
Comet – A star type pattern with a tail of sparks in the sky.
Commercial Fireworks – The term is used to include all fireworks regulated by the DOT and PHMSA. Public displays use the term “Display Fireworks.”
Cone – A fountain type firework in the shape of a cone.
Confetti – Multicolored streamers made from paper that is propelled by pyrotechnic charge or a gas cartridge.
Consumer Fireworks – The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) must approve the products before they are released for purchase to the general public. They must be able to remain safe at 350-degree temperatures. The fireworks are limited to 500 grams of composition. Consumer fireworks can’t contain more than 130 milligrams of flash powder and must remain shock resistant.
CPSC – A federal agency known as the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC is responsible for testing and approval of all fireworks sold to the general public. (http://www.cpsc.gov/.)
Crackle Effect – Any firework designed to make noise similar to snaps or crackles in the air.
Crossette – A firework shell that contains several large stars that break into smaller stars. The firework can have silver or gold color and be manufactured in other colors.
Dahlia – A starfish type shape produced from a firework shell. Shells can be cylindrical to allow for larger star display.
Day Time Effect – Smoke and parachute fireworks are good choices that are used during daylight hours.
Decomposition – A chemical process used to convert a compound or mixture into a chemically stable form through a heating process.
Deflagrate – The term used foe when the firework explodes. The loud boom heard after the ingredients inside the firework burn or vaporizes.
Detonate – The explosion heard after any explosive device ignites the compound mixture inside.
Display Fireworks - Professional fireworks that can only be purchased by licensed individuals. They are regulated through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive devices (ATFE). Display fireworks are sometimes called Commercial fireworks.
Display Permit – The special license or permit required by authorities to legally shoot fireworks at a general public viewing area. Additional rules and regulations are required for public displays where large crowds gather.
DOT – Abbreviated definition of the agency known as the United State Department of Transportation. They are responsible for firework classification. The DOT classification for display fireworks is 1.3G. Consumer fireworks are classified as 1.4G.
Electric Match – Electrical current used to ignite fireworks is called an electric match. An electrical current heats the nickel-chromium wire to light the fuse that ignites the firework.
Explosive – Any substance or mixture of ingredients that can undergo rapid decomposition when subjected to shock, friction, sparks or flame.
Falling Leaves – A stunning aerial display consisting of glowing embers that tumble and flicker through the air while gently falling to the ground.
Firecracker - A firework that has a loud bang report. The product contains flash power wrapped in paper with a fuse attached. 50 milligrams of flash powder is the legal limit sold to consumers.
Firefly – A stroboscopic tail effect consisting of numerous bright flashes of light.
Fireworks – Any product or device that is manufactured to be ignited to produce an explosive effect through sound or sight.
Fish – Inserts that propel away from the firework after the shell burst that lasts for only seconds.
Flare – A cylindrical device with a length of 12 inches or longer that is used to light display fireworks.
Flash Powder – A silvery mixture consisting of powdered aluminum and potassium per chlorate. The mixture is the explosive component in all types of fireworks.
Flitter – A type of star that produces bright flashes of light in the trail that star leaves behind similar to a glitter effect.
Floral Pattern – A flower type shape pattern with points of light that streak outward from the break.
Fountain – A ground firework that produces showers of sparks into the air.
Fuse – The string attached to the firework that burns down to the moisture of chemicals inside the body of the firework that causes the explosion.
Glitter – The tail effect from a firework that consists of small explosive bursts containing flashes of light that last several seconds.
Go Getter – Self propelled star that swims in the air after the explosion of the rocket.
Ground Items – All firework products that remain on the ground after ignition. They include fountains or smoke balls, firecrackers, sparklers and other similar items.
Helicopter – A firework that is capable of spinning fast while traveling high in the air. The firework will explode, leaving a unique aerial effect. The product is also known by other names that include sky flyers and UFOs.
High Explosives – They are never used in the manufacturing process of fireworks because of the chance of serious injury and death. Several examples of high explosives are TNT, RDX, PETN and nitroglycerine. They can be ignited with an initiator to produce a dangerous explosion.
Horsetail – The shell produces tailed stars that only travel a short distance before falling to the ground. Another name known for the shell is called a waterfall shell.
Illegal Fireworks – Any fireworks used for general public display are mostly illegal to everyday consumers. Firecrackers with more than 50 milligrams of flash powder are illegal to the unlicensed general public. Consumer fireworks are illegal if they contain more than 130 milligrams of flash powder in an aerial product. Fireworks may not contain any chlorates, red phosphorus, high explosive ingredients or more than 500 grams of composition.
Initiator – A smaller explosive device used in the detonation of large quantities of explosives. The purpose of an initiator is to cause a chain reaction to detonate large bombs or other explosive materials in building detonation. An initiator is never used with fireworks in any display whether it is public or private.
Jumping Jacks – Jumping Jacks emit multiple colors while spinning rapidly after ignited. They are similar in appearance to a firecracker.
Lance – A pyrotechnic composed tube with a length of five inches. Lances are used in set pieces at most firework display events. (This isn’t the definition of set piece in glossary).
Low Explosives – Examples of low explosives are black powder and fireworks sold to the public. They are never used in demolition work. Low explosives burn at a steady rate and can be hard to ignite for detonation.
M80 – Before 1966, the M80 firecracker was legal to purchase by the general population. The original M80 possessed an extremely loud report. They are red with a green fuse protruding from the side. The firecracker was 5/8 inch in diameter and 1½ inches in total length. The original M80 caused many serious injuries due to improper use because it contained two grams of flash powder. The firecrackers were banned in 1966 by the CPSC and made illegal to purchase by the BATF during the 1970s. The BATF is now officially called the ATFE.
Mine – An aerial firework that shoots stars into the sky in a spray pattern arrangement.
Missile - A skyrocket that doesn’t resemble a bottle rocket with a stick to guide it upwards or to stabilize it. The skyrocket can rotate after ignition to give it stability as it shoots into the sky. It can also be ignited from a tube.
Mortar – Generally used in display firework shows for the public. After ignition, the shell travels into the sky to explode and release stars that travel in many directions with color. The shell contains a lift charge on the bottom that sends it shooting into the sky.
Multi-Shot Aerial – Another name commonly used for a cake or repeater firework.
NFPA – Used as the abbreviation for the National Fire Protection Association. The National Fire Protection Association is responsible for the storage, transportation, manufacturing and use of all types of fireworks whether they are public or professional. The NFPA is responsible for rules, regulations and laws concerning all fireworks manufactured and used today. (The National Fire Protection Association website is http://www.nfpa.org).
- NFPA 1122 covers the standards for model rocketry.
- NFPA 1123 covers using display fireworks.
- NFPA 1124 covers the transportation and manufacturing of all types of fireworks.
- NFPA 1125 sets standards for all types of model rockets.
- NFPA 1126 covers the use of indoor fireworks.
- NFPA 1127 sets the standards for the use of high power rockets as hobbies.
Novelty – All firework products with limited capability to cause bodily harm to people or destruction of property. Some fireworks classified under novelty are sparklers, snakes, snaps and poppers.
Palm Tree – An aerial effect known as a rising tail. This effect is similar to a gold or silver palm tree in the sky. As the shell rises into the sky, the aerial effect produces a stem, followed by a brocade or willow effect that creates palm fronds.
Parachute - A projectile made from paper that is launched from a mortar tube as a multiple shot effect in a cake or as a single shot.
Peony – Used most often as an aerial effect at most firework displays. The aerial effect is similar to a spherical ball of multiple colored lights in the sky.
Per chlorates – Used as an oxidizer in the manufacturing process to produce fireworks. Per chlorates are less sensitive to shock, which makes them safer for both public and professional use.
Pistil – A special aerial effect of a ball of stars in another ball of stars exploding in the sky. Also known as a peony inside another peony.
Planes – Other names for this firework are helicopters, UFOs and sky flyers. The firework is designed to spin fast and propel high in the sky to explode into an aerial effect.
Primary Explosives – Similar names are initiators or initiating explosives. The explosive devices are stable under most conditions, but will detonate if ignited. They are used as a primary source to ignite multiple high explosives. They are very sensitive to mechanical shock.
Proximate Fireworks – Technical name used for indoor fireworks. These fireworks are under strict regulation. They are used for indoor firework events. Examples of indoor use are concerts and sports entertainment events.
Punk – The definition for it is a bamboo stick with brown coating that burns slowly once lighted. The punk stick is similar to an incense stick as an example of comparison. The Punk stick is used to ignite fireworks safely.
Pyrotechnics – Name used for fireworks. Fireworks are classified under the name known as pyrotechnics.
Quarter Stick – The firework item is very similar to the original M80. Original quarter sticks contained as much as 10 grams of flash powder and were larger in size than the original M80. Specifications for the quarter stick were four inches in length, one inch in diameter; silver in color and packaged with a four-inch waterproof fuse protruding out the side. Quarter sticks are illegal to purchase or own. The explosive device was banned in 1966 by the CPSC and made illegal during the 1970s by the BATF. The BATF is now officially called the ATFE. The ATFE can file criminal charges against people caught with quarter sticks. Quarter sticks are can injure or kill users because of their sensitivity to shock.
Quick Match – This is the type of fuse used to ignite professional firework displays. Specifications of a match are black in color, wrapped in a paper pipe design on the inside while enclosed with a plastic covering and 3/8 inch diameter. A black match is capable of burning at 1 inch per second but the quick match burns much faster. The quick match was designed to light dozens to hundreds of fireworks at virtually the same time.
Re-loadable Aerial – An aerial mortar designed with one or several mortar tubes with aerial shells that can be replaced after firing with additional shells. They are used in professional display fireworks.
Repeater – Also known by the names of cakes and multi-aerial shots. An aerial is an aerial tube cluster ignited from a single fuse and the tubes will fire in sequence. The cluster of tubes resembles a cake in dimensions and shape.
Report – The sound made from a firework. The term used the most concerning the bang associated with fireworks.
Ring Shell – An aerial shell that produces a ring pattern in the sky. (See Saturn Shell for further definition).
Rising Tail – A gold or silver effect aerial display produced that is similar to the trunk of a tree. Palm tree shells most often will leave this aerial effect in the sky.
Rocket – A pyrotechnic device resembling a paper tube that propels into the air. The pyrotechnic device can include missiles, bottle rockets and skyrockets. (Refer to names mentioned for definitions.)
Roman Candle – A paper tube firework that shoots flaming balls into the air. The firework is ignited while resting on the ground. Roman candles can be a fire safety hazard due to sparks and other flammable material being fired from the device. Only use the candle in a safe and secure area.
Safe and Sane – The term used for fireworks that can’t explode or produce aerial effects.
Sparklers, snakes, fountains, smoke bombs and snaps are some of the products classified as safe. These types of fireworks are generally safe for younger children to enjoy.
Salute – An aerial firework that explodes after ignition in the sky. Also known as a report after the aerial firework explodes in the air.
Saturn Shell – The aerial firework is similar to a peony with a ring around a ball of stars.
Serpent – An aerial display of star that spins in the sky and leaves huge amounts of gold, silver and white light particles. Designed from a small tube made from paper with holes to allow it to spin in flight.
Set Piece – A ground product that is complicated to manufacture that can cost thousands of dollars. Used in public displays. Examples of a set piece item are the Liberty bell, American flag and other patriotic symbols. The device simulates drawing effects in the sky of these symbols after ignition.
Shell – An aerial firework used to display patterns and color designs in the sky after ignition from an internal fuse that is triggered after the device reaches the sky. The firework device can contain most any type stars in a variety of colors. A time fuse connected to the paper ball ignites causing the effect. A fuse is ignited at the ground that propels the shell into the sky from a lift bag.
Silver Salute – The firework product is the M80 firecracker with silver colored paper tube design. (See definition for M80 and Quarter Stick for further information on this type of firework product.)
Single Shot Aerial – An aerial firework capable of producing spectacular displays. A shell is installed inside a mortar tube with the fuse protruding at the base of the tube on the side.
Sky Flyer – Similar names used for this firework product are helicopters, UFOs and planes. The firework is capable of spinning fast as it lifts high in the air to explode with special display effects.
Sky Rocket – A pyrotechnic firework designed out of a paper tube with a stick to add flight stability to the product. The rocket can reach the sky in seconds to explode with a loud report or aerial display. Rockets without the stick manufacture into the product are called missiles.
Smoke Item – All firework products that produce smoke after ignition. These fireworks are used mostly during the day. Examples are smoke bombs and aerial fireworks that only produce smoke without aerial displays or reports.
Snakes – This firework is a ground product that children can play with. Once the product is ignited, it crawls similar to a small snake.
Snaps – Another firework product designed for safety around younger children. Snaps are paper balls containing enough explosive ingredients to make a loud bang report. They offer no harm to children other than the loud pop heard after being thrown at a hard surface on the ground.
Sparkler – A novelty firework with a pyrotechnic coating on a stick that produces sparks after ignition. Another product designed for younger children to play with. Sparklers should never be ignited indoors. They can produce a fire hazard if improperly used. The firework product can produce injuries if thrown at someone or disregard for other people’s safety isn’t heeded.
Spinner – An aerial firework that displays large amounts of white light as it spins in the sky. Tourbillion is another name used for the item.
Squib – A blasting cap or initiator used to set off high explosive devices. Squibs are never used in the firework industry. People with little understanding of an electric match and a blasting cap are responsible for the slang term squib. (Note definition of electric match).
Star – A pyrotechnic effect produced from a small pellet. Most aerial shells can contain hundreds of stars that are capable of producing beautiful aerial displays. Stars can produce long pulsating tails and similar effects. The small pellets known as stars are used in roman candles, cakes, fountains, rockets and aerial shells.
Strobe – A strobe effect is similar to shimmering water in the sky. The effect can have a variety of colors and seem to be blinking to the human eye.
Tail – The trail that follows a star exploding in the sky. Examples of tails are comets, brocade and willow aerial effects.
Titanium Salute – An aerial display producing white light sparks with a loud report. Titanium is used to deliver the bright silver and white sparks in the display.
Tourbillion – An aerial star that displays large amounts of gold, silver and white light. The product is made out of a small tube designed from paper that has holes on both ends to allow it to spin. Tourbillion is another name used for Serpent.
Tube – Another name used for mortar. (Not definition for Mortar.)
UFO – An aerial firework that produces a unique display while spinning fast in the sky. The product is known under other names as helicopter, plane and sky flyer.
Visco – A waterproof fuse used to ignite fireworks. The fuse is flammable and available in various colors. It should only be ignited with another ignition tool known as a Punk. (Note definition for Punk).
Wheel – A firework product designed to spin and produce a circular ring of sparks. The item can be a fire hazard and should only be ignited in areas free of flammable materials.
Whistle – A firework designed from a tube formed from paper with flammable ingredients that produces a whistling sound. The whistle can be designed into cakes, fountains and rocket fireworks.
Wholesale Fireworks – Firework assortment packages that can be purchased from firework vendors at a reduced amount over buying individual products.
Willow – An aerial firework display that is similar to a golden willow tree. The aerial effect can have golden trails that last over ten seconds in the sky to produce a stunning display.