Glossary of Technical Theatre Terms – Pyrotechnics

Pyrotechnic effect which is designed to be suspended from an overhead rig (e.g. lighting bars / truss). Different size airbursts are designed to be triggered at different heights from the ground, so ensure that the manufacturers guidelines are followed. 
The airburst effect is a flash and burst of sparks. 
Airbursts - Le Maitre website

Metal bin or box covered with fine mesh in which Theatrical Maroons can be safely detonated.

Range of connectors used for multipin or 'non-standard' connections. The small 3 pin Bulgin plug is used on the Le Maitre Pyroflash system. The larger 8-pin round 'truck plug' allows the connection of 6 dimmer circuits (up to 6A each) via a single multicore cable. This is ideal for carrying multiple dimmed circuits to a moving set-piece or truck. The 8-pin round connector has become a standard for disco lighting systems.
Bulgin Components website

Long-running column in Lighting & Sound International magazine, by Rob Halliday, discovering the history and origins of many essential technologies and bits of equipment that have made entertainment technology what it is today. 
See the Lighting & Sound International archive for many examples. 

Pyro: Coloured Smoke (Le Maitre) Pyrotechnic device, produced by Le Maitre, which is available as a cartridge which plugs into a flash pot, and when detonated, produces an intense cloud of coloured smoke. Care must be taken as the smoke contains a pigment which can stain light coloured objects or costumes.

Frozen solid carbon dioxide (CO2) at a temperature of -78.5° centigrade which produces clouds of steam-loaded CO2 gas forming a low-lying mist or fog when dropped into boiling water. Although non-toxic, caution is required in the storage and handling of dry ice because of its extreme cold. Water is boiled in a large tank offstage, into which the dry ice is lowered in a basket. Fans and ducts then direct the gas onto the stage. Dry ice does not support life, so care should be taken that small animals, actors etc.are not below the level of the dry ice for more than a few seconds.
See also LOW SMOKE.
Fog / Smoke / Haze On Stage

Essential tools of the pyrotechnician's trade ! In the UK, they used to be colour-coded according to content (Carbon Dioxide (Black), Water (Red), Foam (Cream), Halon Gas (Green) Powder (Blue)) but now, they're all red with a small label saying what they are. Another great leap forward !.

A flammable paste which controllably burns with a bright orange flame. 
Flame Paste at Le Maitre

Flash Pods for use with the Pyroflash system (Le Maitre) A small box containing the socket into which a pyro cartridge is plugged. Also known as a flash pod or firing pod.
German: Startbox

A generic term for a pyrotechnic device consisting of a small cylindrical container into which pyrotechnic powder has been loaded. At the bottom of the container is an electric match or igniter which, when a large enough electrical current flows through it, produces a spark which ignites the powder. Many companies (such as Le Maitre and Theatre Effects) produce cartridge flash pots which are pre-loaded and sealed, reducing the likelihood of incorrect usage.


(Manufacturer) UK based manufacturer of pyrotechnic devices (Pyroflash brand name), smoke machines and other theatre effects
Le Maitre website

An electrically detonated pyrotechnic device giving the effect of a loud explosion. Made from gunpowder encased in stout cardboard or string. Must be used within a metal bomb tank. Originally developed in the second half of the 19th century to simulate the sound of cannon, it was often used to call out the volunteer lifeboat crew in an emergency.

Pyroflash System Controller (Le Maitre) A range of pyrotechnic cartridges, fliring pods and controllers used to create pyrotechnic effects in semi-professional situations, made by Le Maitre.

(often shortened to just 'Pyro') Chemical explosive or flammable firework effects with a manual detonation. Usually electrically fired with special designed fail-safe equipment.
There are many different variations of pyrotechnic effects available. The categories are as follows:
Theatrical Flash - a flash and a cloud of smoke
Maroon: produces a very loud bang. Must only be detonated inside a bomb tank covered with a protective mesh.
Gerb: version of the Roman Candle firework, throwing a shower of sparks into the air. Possibly named from the French 'Gerbe' meaning a sheaf of wheat, due to it's shape.
All pyrotechnics should be used with close reference to local licensing laws, and the manufacturers instructions. Professional advice should be sought before the first use of effects.
Some territories only permit licenced pyrotechnicians to use these devices.
The word originates from the Greek for fire, pyr

Pyrotechnic effect that produces a flash, short burst of sparks and a small cloud of smoke. Can be used to simulate an electrical fault. 

Pyro: Silver Jet (Le Maitre) Pyrotechnic cartridge produced by Le Maitre, which produces a bright shower of sparks in a fountain. This is a type of GERB.

A pyrotechnic product which produces a cloud of real smoke when set alight.
Also known as a Smoke Pellet. 

Pyrotechnic effect that creates a focussed burst of sparks from a small tube. 

Pyro: Theatrical Flash Large (Le Maitre) Pyrotechnic cartridge produced by Le Maitre, which produces a bright white flash, a small bang, and a large mushroom of smoke.