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Center for Media Production and Research Produce Pyrotechnics Safety Video

Thanks to a project being done by the IUP Center for Media Production and Research for the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA),  Mack Park will be the site of a special October 31 Halloween fireworks event and the first Indiana Lions Club Fun Fest.

In 2012, the APA approached the IUP Center for Media Production and Research about creating a new safety video for APA. The APA leadership decided to take the safety video one step farther and to offer a “fireworks spectacular” for the community, free of charge, while IUP student videographers document best safety practices of the setup and execution of a fireworks show.

“The APA’s willingness to turn the project into a special community fireworks show then grew into a charity event organized by the Indiana Lions Club, the Fun Fest,” Mark Piwinsky, Department of Communications Media chair, said. Donations to attend the event benefit the United Way of Indiana County and Lions charitable programs.

About 20 Communications Media students and faculty will be involved in filming the event with 10 cameras covering all angles of the fireworks show, from ground shots to aerials. Filming began Tuesday, with students following pyrotechnic crews from truck loading to show set up to clean up.  “We’ll have cameras all over town,” Piwinksy said.

Many other IUP students have been involved in the pre-production of the safety video and will be involved in the post-production and editing of the final product, slated to be completed by March 2014.

The project has given students a chance to participate in the technical aspect of producing a professional video project as well as the opportunity to work behind the scenes of a community fundraising event. Many of the Communications Media students have been working on the promotional and logistics aspects of coordinating the Fun Fest in cooperation with the Lions Club. Students have created promotional video ads, radio ads, and posters for the event.

The Fun Fest begins at 3:00 p.m. with a car show featuring antique cars, trucks, and motorcycles.  Lions Club member Jerry Boucher (Jerry B) will be playing oldies from 3:00–7:00 p.m. Hiram and the Walkers will take the stage at 7:00 p.m. Concessions stands with refreshments also will be part of the event. Candy makers Boyer and Blair have donated candy for children. The fireworks show will begin around 8:30 p.m.

The APA, a nonprofit organization with membership of more than 240 professional fireworks companies worldwide, has had safety videos in the past. However, the last video on this topic was produced in 1995, and with the advent of more sophisticated, software-generated fireworks over the years, the safety procedures, terminology, and government regulations have changed, APA Executive Director Julie Heckman said.  “We needed to get into the 21st century,” she said. 

The new safety video is intended as an internal training program for pyrotechnic industry professionals and others, including local fire departments, who are involved in the permitting and inspecting of fireworks display sites.

In fact, anyone who is involved with pyrotechnics will be offered the opportunity to see the video, Heckman said, from the people who transport them to government officials who regulate them. “This [video] will be in front of a lot of eyes.” 

The APA has expressed an interest in doing followup videos with the university, which might include more specific topics, such as indoor pyrotechnic displays or transportation of fireworks.

For example, the transportation of fireworks requires certain very specific procedures, such as the proper placement inside the truck in order to avoid shifting and potential hazards on the highway. Trucks must be properly marked with the necessary hazard signs, and drivers must confirm their arrival once they have arrived at their destination.

Starfire Corporation of Carrolltown, which recommended IUP for APA’s video project and provides fireworks for the local Fourth of July event, got the Indiana Lions Club involved in the event and have been working on the Fun Fest.

Starfire co-owner Vince Terrizzi, Jr. said as planning progressed on the video, everyone agreed that it would be a lot more fun to have an actual show. “It was like taking a kid to the candy factory and not letting him have it,” he said.

Starfire, which is a family-owned company that manufactures, transports, and displays fireworks, has provided Indiana’s Fourth of July fireworks for more than 30 years. However, Terrizzi said the fall event promises to be even bigger and better than the Fourth of July.

“Six other fireworks display companies have also volunteered their products and services for the event, making it an unprecedented local fireworks display. It’s been a great effort by all,” he said.

Pyrotechnics companies from all across the country, including American Fireworks, Hudson, Ohio; Zambelli Fireworks, New Castle, Pa.; Pyrotecnico, New Castle, Pa.; Bay Fireworks, Long Island, N.Y.; and American Fireworks Manufacturing Displays, Utica, N.Y., have volunteered their products and services for the event. “Everyone wanted to roll up their sleeves and donate to the community,” Heckman said. “It’s going to be a great show!”

In addition to the APA members and the Boyer and Blair candy companies, sponsors for the event include the Indiana County Fair Board and the Mack Park Foundation.

The fireworks show will go on regardless of rain; however, in case of high winds, the show may be cancelled.

—Beth Louisa Koop

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