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Old 03-05-2016, 08:56   #1
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Lightbulb Test Firing Flares in the UK

Hi All
I have a UK friend who runs a pyrotechnic company and is suitably qualified to use explosive compounds. He also has access to a large quarry way out in the country.

As its frowned upon or even illegal to test fire any kind of rescue/warning flare in the UK he has come up with an idea I'd like to bounce off any of the UK members.

I would like, and I know that others would love to test fire a flare/s to actually see what they are like before having to use them in a real life situation.

He's had the idea (for a fee of course) to use the quarry and a tunnel within the quarry to run training and/or the chance to fire off your old, close to expiry date flares.

There may be also be an opportunity to dispose of older out of dates flares at some point.

I don't have a location for the site apart from it being in the south of England but does anyone have any good/bad idea thoughts on the idea?
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:07   #2
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pirate Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

Firing them inland should present no problems regarding calls to the rescue services.. however he may need to satisfy fire hazard reg's for things like parachute flares if its sited near woodlands etc.. also.. I'd hate to fire a rocket flare or a smoke in a tunnel..
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Old 03-05-2016, 10:42   #3
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

Hi Boatman

The idea was for rocket and parachute type flares to be fired into the tunnel while standing outside to help prevent any kind of fire.

Handheld flares would just be used in the base of the quarry.

Thanks for the input
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Old 03-05-2016, 10:52   #4
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

Even if the tunnel was vertical (a mine shaft) it would be of limited value.
In the US the predominant flares are handheld-vs-12gauge and unless someone has actually SEEN both in use, they have no grasp of how radically different the two are.


So there's very good reason to test pyros and actually SEE how they differ.


I can see that because of environmental concerns (toxic chemicals) and fire dangers, test firing might be problematic. But I would expect that if co-ordinated or planned with local authorities, and done over water (either seaside or large lake) it should be possible to at least schedule SOME demonstrations.


Other than handheld (not hand launched) devices in an open quarry area...I don't think the quarry would serve much purpose.
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:39   #5
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

Many people just wait until the clock strikes 12:00 on New Years Eve. You'll have a few minutes window to test fire all manner of flares without alerting the SAR crowd. God help the poor mariner who is sinking on the 4th of July or on New Year's Eve.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:34   #6
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

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Originally Posted by seasick View Post
Many people just wait until the clock strikes 12:00 on New Years Eve. You'll have a few minutes window to test fire all manner of flares without alerting the SAR crowd. God help the poor mariner who is sinking on the 4th of July or on New Year's Eve.
I've advocated such a time for testing myself whereby we can fire off old flares to find out how they behave. i don't know of any other safety device that we are prohibited from 'testing' in any way shape or form.
It seems ludicrous that we have to wait until we are in need of help to discover "o ****! It doesn't work"
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:35   #7
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

I organised a flare firing night at my boat club a few years ago. It was very successful on a number of levels. We had about 70 people turn up and most brought along some old flares. So everyone was able to fire off 3-4 flares.

It is a really useful exercise to practice with flares. Several of our group would have caused a bad fire on their boat. Very easy to fire a flare down or get yourself burnt.

Was interesting too, of the several hundred flares used, only two failed (I think really they ere operator error rather than the flares themselves). All the flares were expired, some were nearly 30 years old.

In order to hold the night I'd gotten permission from:
Police
Fire Service
Coastguard
Harbour Master
City Council
Civil Aviation Authority

Our event wasn't out in the wops somewhere; it was in Wellington Harbour (capital city of New Zealand).

I think that the Odeo or similar electronic flares are a great deal safer and given that they last for hours rather than a minute or so far more likely to be helpful.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:49   #8
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

"i don't know of any other safety device that we are prohibited from 'testing' in any way shape or form."
So, bob?
Remind me of exactly when we are allowed to fire off EPIRBs in order to confirm that they are actually transmitting. And (aside from the few that have test messaging provisions) how we're supposed to confirm they worked, other than waiting for that phone call from the SAR guys.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:58   #9
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

Quote:
Originally Posted by grantmc View Post
I organised a flare firing night at my boat club a few years ago. It was very successful on a number of levels. We had about 70 people turn up and most brought along some old flares. So everyone was able to fire off 3-4 flares.

It is a really useful exercise to practice with flares. Several of our group would have caused a bad fire on their boat. Very easy to fire a flare down or get yourself burnt.

Was interesting too, of the several hundred flares used, only two failed (I think really they ere operator error rather than the flares themselves). All the flares were expired, some were nearly 30 years old.

In order to hold the night I'd gotten permission from:
Police
Fire Service
Coastguard
Harbour Master
City Council
Civil Aviation Authority

Our event wasn't out in the wops somewhere; it was in Wellington Harbour (capital city of New Zealand).

I think that the Odeo or similar electronic flares are a great deal safer and given that they last for hours rather than a minute or so far more likely to be helpful.
Congratulations on performing this much needed service. I congratulate your authorities also for allowing you to proceed.
Wish our authorities were just as helpful; unfortunately, I was warned of dire consequences and legal action should I fire off as much as even ONE test flare. Go figure!
I do have a question for you; You referred to a "Flare firing night" ... I realize we are dealing with pyrotechnics and it is usual to think of them like "fireworks" BUT, does it need to be "night" would it not be as well to fire some off during the day? Just wondering what others think on this subject. . .
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:17   #10
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"i don't know of any other safety device that we are prohibited from 'testing' in any way shape or form."
So, bob?
Remind me of exactly when we are allowed to fire off EPIRBs in order to confirm that they are actually transmitting. And (aside from the few that have test messaging provisions) how we're supposed to confirm they worked, other than waiting for that phone call from the SAR guys.
You are NOT allowed to "fire them off" ... back to my advice in another post: Read the instructions. eg: Testing EPIRBs

The Coast Guard urges those owning EPIRB's to periodically examine them for water tightness, battery expiration date and signal presence. Most EPIRB's have a test switch that allows emission of a signal that is ignored by the satellites. Testing a 406 MHz EPIRB by actual activation is illegal. For a pdf on NOAA SARSAT testing procedures, click here.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:28   #11
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

I would contact the local authorities. Coast Guard, Harbor Master, etc. Many places have accommodations for testing and instruction. They will be able to advise procedures for testing. In many places you have to simply file the date, time, location and purpose and get it approved first.

I've also seen Green Flares being used for testing and practice as well. I would discuss that option with them as well.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:34   #12
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailorbob8599 View Post
I do have a question for you; You referred to a "Flare firing night" ... I realize we are dealing with pyrotechnics and it is usual to think of them like "fireworks" BUT, does it need to be "night" would it not be as well to fire some off during the day? Just wondering what others think on this subject. . .
I think being night time helped to maximise the benefit of the event. But certainly not essential.
But reading the instructions, and operating a flare, in the dark; much more realistic. Obviously not a pitching deck in a storm, but point was for people to gain the experience.
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Old 04-05-2016, 12:48   #13
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

The good news is that in the UK we celebrate the Roman Catholic attempted destruction of the English Protestant Government with lots of bonfires and fireworks on 5 November each year.

Whilst hand helds could be let off in a garden and I have done to get rid of wasps nests parachute flares which are very common in the UK are a probem. Unlike fireworks they continue to burn even after they have landed. Indeed there was an incident of a parachute flare probably fired on land causing serious damage to a yacht in Southampton.

Flare up - Yachting Monthly

As to firing them down a tunnel, no thanks. There is no way of aiming a parachute flare. The reason the advice is to fire them held out pointing away at waist height is so they don't burn the face. How are you going to fire one horizontally? and if it hit the wall of a tunnel? i would be surprised if you can get business liability insurance for this.

The use of a large quarry for firing parachute flares as an organised event sounds a better option.

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Old 04-05-2016, 17:10   #14
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

This is again another thread where posters seem to forget that the forum is an international forum. What the law is in the UK, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and in my case Australia is often quite different. The OP is posting about the UK. I don't really see how anyone else from thousands of miles away can dispute what he is saying.

Now, IN AUSTRALIA and my must specify in my State of Tasmania (because each of our states and territories have different rules) we used to be able to have demonstrations simply by alerting the local authorities, namely police, that your going to be setting some flares off and what time that will be. I'm contemplating doing this soon at a local primary school for the kids. But along with the police I'll need to inform the local airport authority as the school is within the airport boundaries.

Epirbs are a different matter. And no matter where you are you can test an Epirb by the test button on the device. That is sufficient for a test. There is simply no need to do any other sort of active, live test.
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Old 08-05-2016, 08:47   #15
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Re: Test Firing Flares in the UK

With airplanes, you are allowed to test your emergency locator transmitter at 15 minutes after the hour (I would need to verify the time before doing it) in the US. Then listen for it on the emergency frequency 121.5 to verify it is pinging.
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