Writing and interpreting risk assessments, understanding safety distances, the handling and storage of dangerous goods… this is all bread and butter language and procedure for pyrotechnicians as we go about our work. However, there are times when an event organiser, venue manager or production company may not have the relevant in-house specialist knowledge, particularly when working with hot flames, sparks and explosions.
In the months and weeks leading up to an event, organisers want to understand the nature of the stage sets and stunts being planned. They seek assurance to be confident that the risk assessments are robust and cover the relevant areas and eventualities. Having access to specialist knowledge is vital. This is one of the reasons that the Cheltenham Science Festival production team approached Matthew Tosh; asking him to come on board as a consultant for the 2014 six-day festival.
Matthew will be providing pre and live event support for the shows and awards ceremonies that involve so-called higher-risk stunts, tricks and demonstrations. He brings over eight years of combined pyrotechnics and live science presenting expertise to the Cheltenham team.
High-profile science shows are incorporating more close proximity pyrotechnic and explosive effects to show off particular science principles, as well as enhancing the dramatic and visual aspect. These require an understanding of how the materials perform, detailed risk assessments and robust rigging techniques. A specialist eye also helps give organisers the confidence that safe rigging, storage and set-up procedures are being followed, particularly if any on-site changes or material substitutions need to be made at short notice.