FIRE SAFETY

Fire spinning is inherently dangerous. Even when following these safety precautions and protocols, there are dangers that cannot be completely avoided. We cannot assure you that nothing will go wrong even if you follow all these precautions. If you are not willing to assume full risk and liability as outlined in the safety disclaimer, DO NOT FIRESPIN!

The Three Pillars of Safety

Fire Safety Blankets

Fire safety blankets might be THE most important safety tool to always have. Safety blankets have two main purposes: to put out fire props and to put out fire spinners. All you need to do to douse a fire prop is wrap the lit wicks in the blanket making sure no airflow is going to the wicks. If the fire performer catches on fire, the fire spotter (explained below), should wrap the body part in the fire safety blanket similar to dousing a fire prop.


Fire safety blankets are commonly referred to as duvetynes, but duvetynes are not the only types of fire safety blankets. Duvey’s are thin blankets that are made of cotton or wool. They are generally treated with chemicals to make them flame resistant. This type of safety blanket should not be washed or the flame resistance will be much weaker. Our blankets are heavy duty and made of 100% wool and have been certified inherently fire resistant by the state marshal, so they can also be washed. Only use blankets that are meant to be used as fire safety blankets. Synthetic materials are never recommended unless specifically labeled fire safe because they will melt. Test your fire safety blanket with a lighter before using it to ensure it’s fire safe.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are most useful for any fire that is too big for a fire safety blanket to take care of. Being the most common fire safety equipment, these are very easy to find and usually very easy to use. Most extinguishers have a meter on them which will tell you if it is still good to use so be sure to check this when getting your hands on one. If your fire extinguisher doesn’t have a meter on it, then they usually come with a date printed on the extinguisher itself or an a card attached to it. If you cannot verify if your extinguisher is still in working condition, then get one with a meter attached so you can be sure.


Fire extinguishers are classified according to the type/class of fire they extinguish (USA). Class A extinguishers put out fires in ordinary combustibles like paper or wood. Class B extinguishers are used on flammable liquids like gases, grease, and oil. Class C extinguishers are used on live electrical equipment and fires caused by electrical energy. Class D extinguishers are used on flammable metals. Most of the fires that can be caused by lit fire props fall into the Class B category.


Multipurpose extinguishers that can be used on multiple types of fire are labelled with more than one class. ABC Extinguishers are very common as they put out most types of fire and can be found cheap. The expellant is a dry chemical, meaning it is not the best for use on humans. It can cause skin irritation and difficulty breathing amongst other unwanted consequences. BC extinguishers are more ideal and recommended for our purposes, but more expensive. The expellant is carbon dioxide, which will not have as much negative health repercussions as dry chemicals on the performer or audience. Having both ABC and BC extinguishers can be necessary if Class A fires are possible in your specific circumstances, but ideally you should not be spinning near large amounts of paper and easily flammable wood in the first place.


Most fire extinguishers have instructions labelled on them and usually follow the acronym P.A.S.S. This stands for PULL, AIM, SQUEEZE, SWEEP. The safety pin on most extinguishers has a tamper seal that breaks when you PULL on it. AIM the nozzle low at the base of the fire. SQUEEZE the handle to release the expellant, then SWEEP the nozzle from side to side at the base of the fire until it’s extinguished. The reason we aim low at the base of the fire is because if you were to start at a higher point, the fire can reignite itself from below.

Fire Spotters/Safeties

Having a fire spotter/safety is paramount in every fire spinning situation. A safety is basically another human being who is watching you firespin while holding a safety blanket. They are meant to attentively watch to make sure that the fire spinner, audience, and environment are not catching on fire. When asking someone to safety you, make sure they are aware of the mechanics of your specific prop and what to expect. The fire safety should also have a fire extinguisher nearby, especially in the case of the audience or environment catching on fire.


The most common spotter protocol is to call out what body part has caught on fire to make the performer aware. Be specific with the call outs by naming specific body parts and which side of the body they are on (eg. instead of yelling out “LEG” you should yell out “LEFT THIGH”). Most of the time, a fire spinner can extinguish the fire by just aggressively patting/wiping it off with their hand, but in more serious situations the fire safety should run up and use the safety blanket to douse the fire. The other aspect they should pay attention to is if the venue or something in the environment catches on fire, in which case they can either use the safety blanket or the fire extinguisher to put it out depending on the size of the fire and what is burning. 


The difference between a first and third degree burn is just a matter of seconds! Having an extra pair of eyes in the form of a safety is critical. When asking someone to safety you, make sure you are both on the same page as far as protocols go. More than one safety might be necessary depending on your prop or size of the audience or specific conditions of your environment. The more precautions taken, the better.

Environment

Ideally the location you pick is a large open space that isn’t near buildings, structures, trees, or bushes. You want a dirt, concrete, or gravel ground (anything that isn’t flammable and is easy to maneuver on). Be sure to clear the area of any obstacles that can cause you to trip and drop your fire tools. Wind is also not your best friend as it can blow fire onto yourself and your surroundings (trees, bushes, etc). Always be aware in what direction the wind is blowing to know what direction the fire will blow towards when lit or in what direction fuel will spray.


Once your environment has been cleared, designate specific areas for fuel storage (a dip station), spin-offs, and for fire spinning. These 3 areas should not be near each other (minimum 20ft distance from each other). Everyone present should be aware of where these 3 things are. Never light a fire or smoke anywhere near the dip station or the spin-off station. The only place a fire should be ignited AT ALL is in the fire spinning area.


Be aware of the people in your environment. It is not recommended to fire perform near intoxicated people. They can be difficult to communicate with and can easily cause a huge safety issue when not aware of the dip station, spin-off zone, or fire safety area. The same goes for people who are smoking and unaware of their surroundings.

Never fire spin anywhere you don’t have explicit permission to do so. We never condone anyone to fire spin unless they are on their own property or have explicit permission to do so by the property owner and relevant authorities. Check local laws that pertain to open fires for more guidance, especially in high fire danger areas.

Gasoline/Fuel

Types of Fuel

There are many types of fuel commonly used nowadays in fire spinning but the way they are commercially labeled varies heavily from brand to brand and country to country. The main categories of fuels are low combustion point gases and high combustion point gases, which refer to how high of a temperature the fuel will combust. So this means low combustion point gases ignite much more easily because they combust at a lower temperature. In the USA, the two main gases we use in each category are white gas (low combustion point) and paraffin lamp oil (high combustion point).


White gas is very commonly used in America and is also sold under the name of “Camping Fuel”. It is composed of purified gasoline, making it more safe to use around humans. White gas is the most visually appealing fuel to use and creates those picturesque spin-offs people have come to know and love. White gas tends to burn hotter and brighter than most other options and also has a tendency to cause fuel transfers. Fuel transfers happen when a wick touches another object, such as your arm or shirt, and transfers the fire from the wick to the object (this is why safety blankets and fire safeties are necessary). 


Paraffin lamp oil is sometimes just labelled as lamp oil. Use lamp oils that are labelled as purified whenever possible. Lamp oil has a much longer burn time than white gas, doesn’t have a tendency to cause fuel transfers, and does not burn as bright and hot as white gas. This makes it a safer and beginner-friendly alternative. One thing to note is that lamp oil is a more oily substance compared to white gas, so it can make a floor slippery. It does not evaporate quickly like white gas does, and can cause oil stains on clothing. Lamp oils are within the same chemical family as Kerosene, but have been purified to make for a cleaner burn. Regular kerosene is not recommended because it’s not as purified, has a very smoky burn, and leaves soot all over fire props and performers.


E85 has become another popular low combustion point fuel that fire spinners globally use because of its availability and low price. E85 is a bio-fuel that is composed of ~85% ethanol and ~15% gasoline. Around the world, E85 is almost always at least 85% ethanol. In the USA however, E85 can legally be anywhere between 51% and 83%. That means up to 49% of the fuel contents can be straight gasoline. Especially for these reasons in the USA, E85 is not recommended. Gasoline as a whole shouldn’t be used because of the toxic fumes that will be released from burning.


There are many different kinds of fuel that can be used for our purposes in modern times. Now that fire spinning is popular all over the world, check social media groups related to fire spinning or ask your local fire community what types of fuel people use in your general area. Every country/continent has different regulations for branding fuels and what is meant by different labels. 

Fuel Storage and Dip Cans

Dip cans refer to the container you pour fuel into so that you can dip the wicks of your fire props. The most important aspects of a dip can are that they are spill proof once closed and will not break if knocked over. The two most commonly used dip cans are metal army ammo cans and new/unused metal paint cans. Test your dip can using water to make sure it is spill proof before using it for dipping fuel.  Whenever dip cans are not in use, they should be closed as to prevent fuel from spilling or being lit on fire. Set up a dip station away from the fire spinning area and spin-off area. Make sure all fuel containers and dip cans are kept at the dip station. When your fire spinning session is over, be sure to return the fuel from your dip can to its original container using a funnel, large metal meat baster, or measuring cup.

Dipping and Spinoffs

Wicks should be dunked into gasoline in a dip can very briefly. As long as you got the wicks saturated, you’re good to go. You can also use a metal meat/turkey baster to fuel your props in more accurate ways, which can be helpful for some specialty props. The only part of a prop that should be touched by any fuel is the wick. Do not put fuel on any other parts such as silicone tape/tubing or any types of rope.  After dipping your prop, close your dip can and move away from the dip station towards the spinoff area. Spin-off before you go to the fire spinning area. Spin-off here just refers to spinning your prop in a circle quickly to get as much fuel to come off of your wick as possible. You don’t want ANY dripping fuel at all. DO NOT ATTEMPT the flashy spin offs you see more advanced fire spinners do. These should only be taught in person by someone who knows what they’re doing. Make sure no one is close enough to you that you spray fuel on them. Check direction of the wind to know in what direction the fuel will spray. Be careful not to get any sprays of gasoline into your eyes or mouth. Be aware if fuel is sprayed on your skin or clothes before lighting up, as this can make for more fuel transfers.  Move towards the fire spinning area AFTER you have spun off. Before lighting your prop, check the direction of the wind to know where your fire will blow towards. Once you light up the prop, make sure to keep your fire prop moving as a stagnant fire can damage your prop. Ask a more advanced practitioner if you have any questions about any of these points.

Other Safety Notes

Prop Hardware

Before dipping a prop in fuel, make sure everything is intact. If your prop has any quick-links, make sure they are securely closed. Check wicks to make sure they are secure. If your prop is collapsible or needs to be screwed together, make sure all connections are tight. If your prop has rope involved than make sure the rope is secured to the wick also. Pick the prop up and use it for a bit to double check that everything is secure before dipping or lighting up. The last thing anyone needs is a fireball flying through the air.

Clothing/Hair

Clothes made of 100% natural fibers (cotton, wool, leather, denim) or synthetic fibers specifically advertised as fire safe are the only recommended clothing when fire spinning. Although clothing made of natural fibers can still catch on fire, it is easy to put out when following our three pillars of fire safety. Clothing made of synthetic materials (polyester, rayon, spandex, nylon…) will melt and produce some nasty chemicals. Melting fabric on your skin is a sure fire way of getting a serious burn and can cause more serious scarring because of the chemicals produced from synthetic fibers melting. Clothing that is dangly and flowy regardless of the type of fibers is also not recommended as it will get in the way more often which will make for higher chances of fuel transfers. Long hair can also get in the way for similar reasons. It is recommended to wear your hair up in a bun or at least a ponytail to keep it out of your way. Optionally you can also dampen your hair so it is less likely to catch on fire.

Substances

Fire spinners and fire spotters/safety should be sober during the whole fire experience. Intoxication has negative effects on inhibitions and will make the whole experience much less safe. In order to be fully aware of the environment and what is happening during the fire experience, we must reiterate that all parties should not be intoxicated. Take care to make sure any intoxicated audience members are aware of what is happening. 

FIRE SAFETY CHECKLIST

To Have:

1. Fire Safety Blanket

2. Fire extinguisher

3. Fire spotter/safety

4. Right type of fuel

5. Dip can with funnel/baster/measuring cup

6. Fire safe clothing (natural fibers e.g. cotton, wool, etc.)

To Do:

1. Check environment

2. Designate dip station, spinoff area, and fire spinning area (not close together)

3. Dip wicks then close your dip can

4. Spin-off all fuel in the spin-off area

5. Fire spin only in the fire spinning area

6. After fire session is over, return fuel from dip cans back to their original container for storage