Burn Guide

2022 Afterburn Burn Guide

So you want to play with fire at Afterburn 2022, huh? Before you do, be sure to read this guide in full.


Fire is truly at the heart of our events, and we encourage and support all types of safe fire art and displays. The following information and guidelines are designed to promote the safe use of open fire or flame effects in your artwork, performance, theme camp, or mutant vehicle – and we encourage you to use these safety rules as a guide. Please read this page in its entirety, making sure to focus on the areas that apply to your work. 


The mission of CATS is to provide experienced support for artists both pre-event and on-site, as well as to ensure the safe use of fire and pyrotechnics. This team, which includes artists, fire performers, fire safety personnel, and industry professionals will assist you in the safe execution of open fire or flame effects in your art installation, theme camp, or mutant vehicle. You should take advantage of their cumulative knowledge in planning for your project. 


First off, thank you for stepping up and producing your art with fire; this is a task that’s not easy to do safely. We will explain in the next few steps the Burnt Oranges process for dealing with the various aspects of burnable art at a regional burn. 

Step 1: Read the guide! This guide will tell you about all of the aspects we will review before your art is permitted to burn at our event. For those of you who are an old hand at building burnable art projects, many of the subsequent items may be within your knowledge base. Others may not, so new or old hand, please read it thoroughly.

Step 2: Get your ideas on paper using this guide to create your documentation and help you form your ideas in a way that will lead to a successful burn. Your attention to detail will be a key component in whether or not you are permitted to burn your art or receive a grant. Documents required for submission are as follows: 

1. Timeline for project

2. Design and construction documents

3. Demo and fire plan

4. Budget

5. Burnable art permit and art grant forms

Step 3: Upon receiving and reviewing your submitted documents we will schedule a call with you and your team to discuss your project. This will be a no more than two hour discussion that must involve all key members of your team. 

Step 4: You will receive written feedback on your project and any must-change items will be noted. 

Step 5: After the submission deadline all projects will be voted on by three random mandarin members and two CATS team members. Voting criteria is based on the following variables: 

1. Artistic creativity 

2. Adherence to design rules and guidelines

3. Thoughtfulness in design and burn plan 

4. The ability of safely burning this art on the current site

5. Interactivity


Here are a set of definitions that will help participants understand and plan for the use of fire and pyrotechnics in art installations, theme camps, and mutant vehicles. These definitions will be referenced in the following general safety information.

Open fire: Open fire is defined as non-pressurized flame, including setting fire to an art installation, large burn barrels, braziers, torches, large assemblies of candles, and other simple uses of fire. Open fire projects must follow the burnable art process (see below).

Pyrotechnics: The term pyrotechnics refers to the art, craft, and science of fireworks, which includes any explosives or projectiles. Currently, Burnt Oranges allows the use of Class C fountains, sparklers, and non-aerial or exploding type fireworks. We reserve the right to inspect and refuse the use of any pyrotechnic device.

Flame Effects: The term flame effects is defined as all flames that are automated, switched, pressurized, or having any action other than simply being lit on fire, as well as projects using propane or liquid fuel. Liquid fuel effects are not allowed in theme camps or on mutant vehicles. All flame effects will be inspected by the CATS team (a fire safety liaison) prior to receiving the go ahead to light up.

Please fill out the flame effects registration form on the Burnt Oranges website. You will then be contacted by a member of the CATS team to discuss your project. They will then determine if you are approved or not; they will also determine if any additional safety procedures need to be implemented. Your flame effects need to meet the guidelines below.


Size: Keep in mind there will be two perimeters around your art while it is being burnt and while the conclave is in progress. There needs to be plenty of room for people to stand, after all. The first perimeter, while it is being burnt, will be 1 1/2 the height of your structure. The current maximum is around 13’x13’x13′. This limit is subject to the mass of your structure and may need to be modified based on your design.

Design: All aspects of your design and construction must be documented. 

1. Timeline: All aspects of your project must appear on your timeline, everything from planning and design to leaving no trace. This document should include the names of who will be helping and with what. This type of information helps us ensure that you have adequate help and will not be burnt out and unable to complete the task. If you need help with how to document this please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

2. Budget: All aspects of your budget should be documented both for your sake and for ours. We require this to be sure that your project will make it to the event and be complete. 

3. Documentation: Drawings detailing your project’s general size, scope, aesthetics, how it will be put together, and how you intend to build it. This allows us to understand what we are dealing with from both a safety standpoint and a build standpoint. 

4. Conclave: If there are any requests or ideas you have about conclave, they must be in the design part of your proposal. Any requests received by the conclave coordinator onsite will not be honored. We do this so that we have time to look at as many of the safety aspects as possible. 

5. Be prepared to receive feedback. We will review these plans very thoroughly and will provide feedback before the final project is selected. 


There are several general guidelines regarding construction of burnable art.

1. Absolutely no pressure treated lumber is allowed to burn. Note that some sizes of lumber generally are only available in a pressure treated variety. For example, a 4’x4’ is generally only inexpensively available if it has been pressure treated. Fortunately, two 2’x4’ slats can be mated together to get the required size and load capacity. 

2. Regarding paint, use water based paint only. 

3. If part of your plan is to make the structure move or fall in a particular way, that design and idea must be explained in your documents particularly well so that when the project is submitted we can review it for any safety concerns. Also, when designing your structure to fall, it is often best to design it to fall lightly and naturally as opposed to designing it solidly and forcefully making it fall. An example of this is if you want your ball-like burnable art to open up and reveal something while burning. The sections that are to fall can be connected together conventionally via screws. Where they connect to another section that will fall in the opposite way, drift pins or twine that will burn quickly can be used to affix the two sections together. 

4. Is your structure intended to support the load of participants? If so, it is important that if you don’t have experience with these types of structures that you contact the effigy team during your design process so that we can help you design a safe structure. The rule of thumb when you want participants on your structure is to have every load bearing component (wood, connections, screws, bolts, etc.) capable of bearing the weight of that section, plus the total load you want on that section of the effigy. 

5. When designing the structure you should also design a way to compromise the structure so that it will fail easily. For instance, when designing a load bearing structure to have people on, it is important that every component of the structure be as strong as possible. However, no one wants to wait several hours for your structure to burn and fall to the ground before they run around it at conclave. So having a plan that is simple and reliable to compromise the structure is important. If there is no plan for this when your application is submitted, we will help you put that plan before the burn. Even a non-load bearing structure will need to be planned to fail. 

6. The use of cardboard and cloth can create sheets of embers that blow great distances, showering sparks down on the crowds. Laminated wood is often treated with fire retardants that can greatly affect the burn time and end with support pieces remaining upright long after the bulk of the piece burns away. Heavily-painted or treated wood, plastics, and other inorganic materials can cause excessive fumes and will not be allowed to burn 


Fire safety liaison: A knowledgeable representative of the art installation or performance shall serve as your team’s fire safety liaison. The fire safety liaison is responsible for the exchange of information about the art installation with CATS before and during the event. They will maintain communication about all aspects of the project during the event. The artist registering the artwork and the fire safety liaison can be the same person or two different people. 

Perimeter: The CATS team will work with you, the artist, the rangers, DOGS, and the conclave team to provide an adequate perimeter for your project. 

Burn plan: It’s important to stick with your submitted plan. The CATS team will be supervising your build and burn preparations. If changes need to be made it’s important that you let us know immediately we may have to re-plan safety logistics. If you purposely do not stick to your plan (e.g. adding pyrotechnics or some other type of unexpected items to the art) without having permission from CATS, you will jeopardize your chances of being approved for any further fire art projects. You also may receive disciplinary action for the unauthorized activity, up to being banned from the event and any subsequent events. 


Fuel: It’s important to understand the difference between fuel and accelerants. In this case, the accelerant is what will provide a catalyst to accelerate the spread of the fire, while the fuel is what the fire uses as fuel to burn. There are several techniques to loading burnable art with fuel; the design of the structure and the artist’s intent will generally guide the layout and selection of wood types. However, there are several guidelines to abide by. One rule is that you want air to flow through the fuel pack like air flows through a typical scout campfire. It is important to have this in your plan and mind when designing your art to burn. If this is not in your wheelhouse, not to worry: We have people on our team that are professionals in burning and blowing stuff up. The CATS team will oversee this process closely as it is important to the outcome of both the burn and participant safety. 

Accelerants: The type of accelerant and loading technique for each art piece will vary. This is where we will work most closely with you to come up with a plan using your input as a guide. The CATS team will implement the accelerant loading and fusing. The CATS teams will also be responsible for acquiring the necessary accelerants.

Ignition: The CATS team will be implementing an electronic or manual ignition system for each burnable art piece that we deem necessary – and yes, you will be the one pulling the switch. 

Cleanup: Cleanup post-burn, artists are expected to completely clean the area of debris. Completely cleaning the sight of your burn is essential for the continuation of our event and it is your responsibility as the artist. This includes removal of all unburnt material and any moop within a 25-foot radius of your project. 

CATS team/ranger team checkout: After your art is burnt to the ground and your team is actively managing the smoldering remains and moop clean up, come to the ranger HQ for a debriefing. This will be a quick conversation on how the burn went and next steps are needed, if any. 


The majority of flame effects that we utilize use liquefied petroleum gas (LP), more commonly referred to as propane. Most of the guidelines below deal with propane as a fuel. Regardless of fuel type or technological aspects, all flame effects must be constructed in such a way as to meet or exceed applicable laws, codes, and industry standards. These standards can be found in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) documents, Sections 54 and 58. You can also consult the LP gas codes, as well as Section 160 that deals with flame effects with a live audience.

Gas cylinders: All LP gas cylinders must have an unexpired certification date stamp and be in good working order. Tanks in poor condition or out-of-date are a danger to fill and may cause injury to the fuel team, artists, and/or participants. 

Shutoff valves: All LP flame effects must have 1/4-turn shutoff valves at each fuel supply connection, as well as a primary emergency fuel shutoff point. These valves must be exposed and visible at all times. These valves also give the artist control of the gas supply without having to manipulate the multi-turn supply valve on the tank itself. 

Fuel lines: All fuel lines used must be rated for both pressure and type of fuel being used. This information must be printed on the fuel lines at the time of onsite inspection. Air or pneumatic

lines are not acceptable as fuel hoses. LP gas degrades rubber hosing not specifically designed for use with that fuel. This results in the hose cracking from the inside out, potentially leading to catastrophic failure.

Ratings: All fittings, piping, valves, and connectors must also be designed and rated for the pressures and fuel type used. The use of lead-soldered fittings is prohibited in the fuel system of any flame effect. The use of improper fittings can lead to leaks and failures in the fuel system, resulting in fires and or injury. If you are using unregulated propane (full tank pressure), schedule 80 piping is required.

Hose connections: Hose clamps are prohibited on any fuel lines. All fuel hose connections must be factory made, or constructed with a crimped fitting specifically designed for that purpose. Hose clamps are well-known for cutting and chafing fuel lines or coming loose, possibly leading to catastrophic failure. 

Pipe fittings: Accumulators, pressure vessels, and all associated piping and fittings must be rated for the operating pressures at which your flame effect is operating. Any welding alteration tanks used as accumulators or pressure vessels must be fabricated by an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) certified welder, and must be re-stamped and certified as such. Catastrophic failure of accumulators or pressure vessels can result in leaks or explosions. In flame effects where the gas supply pressure is higher than the rated operating pressure of the accumulators or pressure vessels, a regulator must be properly installed on the supply side of the accumulator or pressure vessel. Also, an over-pressure device must be properly installed in the vapor space of the accumulator or pressure vessel.

Supervision: Flame effects must never be left unattended. Winds are highly variable, and may create havoc in a poorly monitored installation, resulting in fires or explosions. Any flame effect found running unattended will be shut down. Egregious or repeat offenses will result in the confiscation or disabling of the effect. 


To receive approval to use flame effects for art projects, the fire safety liaison must attend a technical walk-through meeting with a member of the CATS team the day prior to its use. If this meeting is missed by the liaison, the artist or theme camp will not be allowed to operate the flame effect. 


Any artist, theme camp, or mutant vehicle using open fire, flame effects, and/or pyrotechnics must develop an emergency plan of action. If an art installation or performance has received approval and is scheduled, this plan should be submitted to the CATS team prior to the inspection. 


A daily safety check of all flame effects’ fuel, materials, hoses, pumps, wicking, pressure of tanks, etc. will be mandatory before daily/nightly art installation/performance begins. If a safety hazard has been identified, the fire safety liaison will halt the art installation/performance until such safety matters are resolved.

Thanks for reading, now go burn brightly (and safely)!